I'm trying to get started with things like FuzzyFinder, but I am stuck at the point where it says:


Put all files into your runtime directory. If you have the zip file, extract it to your runtime directory.

You should place the files as follows:



What is a "runtime directory"? What goes in there? Where is mine?

4 Answers 4


Assuming that you're using some flavor of Unix, your personal runtime directory is ~/.vim. This is where you should put any plugin used only by you. If you want other users to be able to access the plugin, put it in the second directory of the 'runtimepath' option, which is usually $VIM/vimfiles. You should not install any plugins into the $VIMRUNTIME directory. That directory is intended for plugins distributed with Vim. If you put other plugins in that directory, or modify files in that directory, you will likely lose those changes when you update your Vim installation.


:help 'rtp'

for more about this.

  • 1
    If the OP is considering installing plugins like FuzzyFinder, it might also be worth mentioning plugin managers like Vundle or (older) Pathogen - the sooner you can get started using a plugin manager, the better, as it rationalizes the default sub-folder structure in ~/.vim/ .
    – J-P
    Feb 13, 2014 at 20:53

There are actually multiple “runtime directories”. Use :set runtimepath? inside Vim to see the directories involved.

Any of them should work, but probably the easiest place to use would be the per-user directory ~/.vim/, which should be first in your Vim's runtimepath.

mkdir ~/.vim; (cd ~/.vim && unzip /path/to/vim-fuzzyfinder.zip)

If you want to install it for all users on the system, then try one of the later directories in the list (one of which is the version specific value that is also in Vim's $VIMRUNTIME variable).


Enter :!echo $VIMRUNTIME inside vim to find out.

  • Blank? So I... don't have one? Jun 15, 2010 at 18:55
  • @Andres Jaan Tack: I am guessing that you ran the command in your shell. You need to issue that command at a colon prompt in Vim. Jun 15, 2010 at 19:39
  • 3
    it will work better without ! since the environment variable won't exist on Windows Apr 4, 2013 at 21:10
  • @JanusTroelsen is correct, on Windows, use :echo $VIMRUNTIME without the !.
    – Sabuncu
    Nov 27, 2017 at 6:25
  • What about :echo &runtimepath?
    – ljrk
    Apr 19, 2022 at 11:05

Late to the game here ... according to the docs

echo VIMRUNTIME=`vim -e -T dumb --cmd 'exe "set t_cm=\<C-M>"|echo $VIMRUNTIME|quit' | tr -d '\015' `

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