Is it possible to get vim to open multiple files into tabs, similar to the way the args <path> command will open multiple files into buffers?

Doing something like :tabe ./* results in the error "E77: Too many file names", even though the number of files is less than the value set in the tabpagemax property.

(I believe the vim -p <files> option will open in tabs, but I'm hoping to find a way to do it when vim is already open.)


4 Answers 4

:tab all

will open all the files in Vim's argument list in individual tabs. The argument list is initially set to the list of file names given on the command line when Vim is started. The list may be changed with the :args and related commands. See

:help :all
:help argument-list


:args *.c
:tab all

will open all the .c files in the current directory in individual tabs.

  • I'm not sure how this is meant to work. Say if I want to open all .txt files in the current directory, what would I enter? If I enter :tab all *.txt, vim counters with "E488: Trailing characters"
    – Ash
    Aug 4, 2010 at 9:52
  • I edited the answer to clarify what I meant by "arguments". I meant Vim's argument list rather than arguments to :tab all.
    – garyjohn
    Aug 4, 2010 at 15:39
  • 1
    I don't know of a single command that can do that, but you can put two commands on one line by separating them with a vertical bar, like this: :args *.c | tab all.
    – garyjohn
    Aug 5, 2010 at 0:31
  • 10
    The downside is that using :tab all replaces your existing tabs. Because of this, in my use case, it doesn't provide much benefit over reopening files with vim -p. However, if there were some way to stuff existing tabs into :args, it might be possible to open new tabs and keep the existing ones.
    – Kevin Qi
    Jul 19, 2012 at 23:36
  • 5
    If a tab is already open, substitute argadd for args.
    – cdosborn
    Jun 16, 2015 at 19:17

You actually can open new tabs and keep your current tabs without writing new functions. See this answer on Stack Overflow: https://stackoverflow.com/a/11430615/200234

:args file1 file2 | argdo tabe

You may want to open a new empty tab (:tabe) before doing that, because the first file will open in the current tab. Also, an extra empty tab will be left open (see :help argdo to understand why).

  • If you're adding new tabs to an existing set, wouldn't it be easier just to :tabe file1?
    – jpaugh
    Sep 10, 2019 at 14:29
  • @jpaugh, the question is about multiple files. Sep 10, 2019 at 18:05
  • Wouldn't :args | argdo tabe answer the question, though? What's the reason for adding new files this way?
    – jpaugh
    Sep 10, 2019 at 20:34
  • @jpaugh, this is what the question asks for: "I believe the vim -p <files> option will open in tabs, but I'm hoping to find a way to do it when vim is already open." Sep 11, 2019 at 22:57
  • This did what I needed! I used a wildcard :args *.c | argdo tabe With the top answer it was opening some files in windows and some in tabs, but this opens all of them in tabs.
    – mindthief
    Sep 9, 2021 at 23:27

To open files in new tabs without replacing the arguments or tabs that are already open:

:argadd *.c | tab all

This was mentioned in a comment but I think deserves its own answer.

Also, to search for files in subdirectories:

:argadd code/**/*.c | tab all

I mapped @Mihai Capotă soltuion, adding an automatic change directory to current file. Add this line to $HOME/.vimrc file:

nnoremap <C-S-t> :cd<Space>%:p:h<CR>:tabe<CR>:args<Space>*.html<Space>\|<Space>argdo<Space>tabe<Left><Left><Left><Left><Left><Left><Left><Left><Left><Left><Left><Left><Left><Left><Left><Left><Left><Left><Left>

Code explanation:


map to Crtrl-Shit-T (like FireFox is Ctrl-T for new tab)


change directory to the one in current file open in VIM, read: https://vim.fandom.com/wiki/Set_working_directory_to_the_current_file


read @Mihai Capotă soltuion


read same


move cursor to asterisk

To improve:

  1. the current tap will be a blank (just close it Ctrl-W-q or :q). Ideally this tab should be autoclosed (also from buffer).
  2. go to previous tap may be easy if you remember it, e.g. if it was 1st tab then just press 1gt or :tabr. Ideally this go to previous should be automatic.

PD: it might be a comment, not a solution, if so, then please comment it, I cannot.

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