I'm using both Vim and MacVim (or well, trying to). I installed the Tagbar plugin but find it impossible to switch to the actual Tagbar window to make my selection.

I've been reading loads about window switching in VIM, found a lot of default keybindings (CMD+`, CTRL+W+ or ), tried setting my own. NONE worked.

I always use VIM for quick file edits and got intrigued by using it as my full-time IDE. After spending a full hour just trying to figure out how to switch a window I'm totally turned off by the idea though. Still, I feel I have to know. How do you switch the window? Am I being totally blind here?

  • 10
    Vim is one of those tools where everything makes perfect sense - after you know about it. Before then it may as well be in welsh.
    – Phoshi
    May 7, 2011 at 19:13

4 Answers 4


Control+W followed by W to toggle between open windows and,

Control+W followed by H/J/K/L to move to the left/bottom/top/right window accordingly,

Control+W followed by Left/Down/Up/Right arrow to move to the left/bottom/top/right window accordingly.

  • 4
    Nope, not doing anything.
    – Naatan
    May 7, 2011 at 18:14
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    Ugh, I was pressing them at the same time. Tried Ctrl+W, THEN (seperately) one of the last keys and it worked. Sigh. Thanks!
    – Naatan
    May 7, 2011 at 18:15
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    Besides the H/J/K/L directional keys you can also hit W again (with or without Control) to switch back and forth between the previously focused window.
    – Caleb
    May 7, 2011 at 18:33
  • 9
    The arrow keys can also be used besides h/j/k/l. Jan 4, 2014 at 9:28
  • 7
    You can also add prefix the direction with a number if you need to go more than one window; e.g. C-w 2k
    – Walf
    Aug 1, 2016 at 6:12

Control + W twice does the trick for me on Macbook Pro.

  • 3
    It does also work on Linux.
    – tomrozb
    Mar 4, 2014 at 12:44
  • This is the only thing that's worked for me on OSX. None of those <C-w><h/j/k/l> or <C-w><C-h/j/k/l> things the internet says does anything. Too bad <C-w><C-w> only cycles through the windows rather than going directly... Sep 8, 2016 at 4:59
  • 4
    Control + W sucks when running a terminal in a browser Sep 18, 2018 at 13:39
  • Running a terminal in a browser... interesting. Btw. if it sucks, you can remap it to a different keys.
    – user254319
    Sep 11, 2019 at 7:40
  • Surprisingly it worked on vim in termux(android terminal emulator.). Sep 7, 2020 at 22:17

It's possible to remap these to a more convenient keys (i.e. instead of Control+W followed by h/j/k/l)

Add this to your .vimrc

nnoremap <C-H> <C-W>h
nnoremap <C-J> <C-W>j
nnoremap <C-K> <C-W>k
nnoremap <C-L> <C-W>l

After that, Control + h/j/k/l will switch window focus.

  • This is nice. I placed it into my vimrc.
    – Enis Arik
    Jun 28, 2021 at 14:40
  • 1
    This is clutch for those running a terminal in a browser (as mentioned in another comment) since Ctrl+W on Windows is "close window". Oof.
    – Excel Help
    Jun 22, 2022 at 12:07
  • ❤️ that one! Thanks! Aug 20, 2022 at 0:07

These mappings allow cycling through the windows. Whereas something like <C-W>l stops at the most right window <C-w>w moves the focus to the the first window.

In your .vimrc:

nnoremap <C-h> <C-w>W
nnoremap <C-l> <C-w>w
  • 1
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