Is it possible to have 2 or more (G)vim windows for the same session, or at least share some buffers. Here, "window" refers to a Gnome(or KDE, or Windows etc.) window, not a VIM window.

I use two monitors with xinerama and want to open two separate GUI windows instead of having a huge single one that spans multiple screens.

  • have you tried :sp <filename> or :vsp <filename> ? This are vim's window splitting commands and they're great. Here's some documentation Jan 19, 2011 at 3:53
  • 2
    @Tom Stephens: and that helps .. how? OP wants to position the vim-windows of ONE vim instance across his monitors. OP does not want ONE vim instance spanned across all monitors.
    – akira
    Jan 19, 2011 at 8:28
  • 1
    This is important; the editor should not really be doing it's own window management. Oct 2, 2012 at 2:40

6 Answers 6


Currently gVim cannot have separate 'toplevel' windows for the same process/session. There is a TODO item to implement an inter-process communication system between multiple Vim instances to make it behave as though the separate processes are unified. (See :help todo and search for "top-level".)

  • 7 years later, Vim8, this is still in the todo list.
    – Al.G.
    Apr 1, 2018 at 22:10
  • 1
    Donate to the Vim charity and get votes, then vote for the feature: vim.org/sponsor/index.php
    – Heptite
    Apr 1, 2018 at 22:13

Take a look at GNU screen used in conjunction with Vim.

First window, start up gnu screen and vim

screen -S edit

Second window, connect to screen session:

screen -x edit

Incredibly useful over large xinerama desktops, multiple virtual screens, or VNC sessions. One session of Vim, with lots of tabs, is all you need.

-- Tom

  • 1
    Points for the quick and brief tutorial, although I would call this only slightly useful, because I cannot edit different buffers of the same session this way. Dec 12, 2011 at 10:04
  • interestingly this is a point where screen wins over tmux, - in tmux attaching to the same session from a different client means you just see things mirrored across both instances... I'm considering some unholy combination of the two but haven't quite figured out what I want to do yet!
    – JonnyRaa
    Jan 10, 2018 at 13:21

It's been some time since you asked your question and many things have improved. Nvidia has much better driver support for multiple monitors on Linux.
I've now stopped using Gvim since I moved over to KDE: Now I'm using vim-qt. It allows you to open multiple instances, in case you don't want to use vim in the terminal.

edit: My setup

  • I am trying it now, how do I use these multiple instances? It looks like regular gvim with a slightly different face to me. Nov 14, 2012 at 8:16
  • You can just start two instances of vim-qt so you can have one window for each of your screens and alt-tab betwen them, or assign hotkeys to each window. Vim-qt is written for qt, so qt-based desktop environments like KDE can utilize the windows better. That means you get to have several different graphical windows open and that your graphical vim windows can be full screen. Which was not possible with regular gvim.
    – jollyroger
    Nov 23, 2012 at 14:53
  • 6
    Thanks for taking the time but this is not what I wanted. I wanted to access the same buffers from two separate GUI windows. And this is not possible as buffer sharing is still in to-do list of vim(see the accepted answer). Nov 26, 2012 at 10:28

I have been looking for a solution to this problem for quite a while now and just found out (pretty much by accident) that there is a GUI wrapper for Neovim, which has support for independent windows for the same instance!


You can detach a window into an external OS window with Ctrl+w g e.

Unfortunately I have discovered that it doesn't really play well with some plugins, so I don't use it at the moment. It might be worth keeping an eye on the following list to see if any of the other GUI wrappers implement a similar feature: https://github.com/topics/neovim-guis

Edit: I have just found some more approaches towards a solution to the same problem:


You can have as many vi(m) sessions as you want by using separate terminal windows for each.

As for not having them span across, I assume you are putting them to full screen and then it is expanding across both monitors as it is set to an extend the desktop. Don't maximize it and manually adjust the terminal or gvim window size.

If I missed the mark please try to elaborate a little more.

What do you mean by vim window?

edit: Here's a pic of my screen with 4 vim instances running

Hopefully Heptite hit it, because I was kind of lost with this one.

  • 1
    That is exactly what I am doing now, manually resize them to span two monitors and then :vsplit but it looks ugly and sometimes I want to see some buffers on different virtual desktops, or cover one monitor with something else. What I want is to use two differnet terminals ans still access the same buffers from both of them. Jan 19, 2011 at 9:00
  • I understand now. Glad to see Heptite answered that for you.
    – user61724
    Jan 19, 2011 at 13:23

I have no problem starting multiple gvim version 9 session from a non-root user command prompt:

$ gvim &

The problem seems to be isolated to starting gvim from gnome desktop only.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .