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I just recursively copied over a directory from a remote machine and would like to work on the files on my own computer.

However, whenever I used Vim remotely, every tab automatically did two things:

  • used 4 spaces per tab
  • put a vertical marking at the location of each tab to indicate that there was one

My own machine has none of these settings in place (I think each tab is about 8 spaces, and there are no vertical markings)

Is there a way to make it so that whenever I open up a file using Vim from now on, it will match the settings of the remote machine I originally developed the files on?

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2 Answers 2

Vim can display meta-characters that indicate tabs, eol (end-of-line) characters and such. To enable this just put the following in your ~/.vimrc file:

set list

To set vim to use 4 spaces on tabs:

set tabstop=4

If you wish to have your tabs act as if you input four individual spaces, and a way to delete these as one tab, include:

set expandtab
set softtabstop=4

Or, if you're lazy like me, you simply copy the ~/.vimrc file from your remote location to your home directory (note that it may use options or resources not available on your version etc.)

scp ~/
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I edited to add scp ~/.vimrc since that explicitly answers the last question. – styfle Jan 5 '12 at 18:57

Alternatively, you could supplement your files with modelines, e.g. in comments:

vim: set list tabstop=4:

(Note that there has to be whitespace or a line beginning before the vim: keyword.)

This way, they will automatically display correctly on any system's vim. (Unless the 'modeline' option is unset.)

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