The other day I was doing some web development work in Netbeans 7 like I had been doing for months. I was working on, at most, two or three files...real light-weight work. It gets late, I go to bed with the computer running. In the morning I wake up to a lot of the memory on my computer being used up by something. I look at NetBeans, and it's hogging up an insane amount of memory.

It had to go. After hearing the countless 'nerdgasms' about Vim I had to try it out. Although I've only just gotten started with it, and I have a ways to go before I get the kind of customization I am looking for, I am extremely impressed with it. I love how easy it is to move around and edit code. I can only imagine what it will be like when I really feel comfortable with it.

One of the things that I would like to do is upgrade to Vim 7.3. I don't want to use MacVim (I've already tried it), and I don't want to install via MacPorts/HomeBrew/Whatever. I want Vim 7.3 from source.

I've only just entered the world of Unix and having already bricked my computer once I have no desire to do it again. So, I want to make sure I know what I'm doing before I do anything stupid.

I currently have the default version of Vim 7.2. I know what directory this is located in. I can access this by typing vim into a terminal.

I currently have a working version of Vim 7.3 installed in ~/Source Code/vim/ that I can gain access to by typing out the complete path to the Vim binary file.

My question is:

How do I safely change the command vim in a terminal or xterm to point to my new version in ~/Source Code/vim/?

I have a feeling symbolic links are involved, but I know this is getting outside my area of comfort. So far the only thing I've been able to find on Google is the normal "Just do this through MacPorts."

Well, I don't actually learn anything through MacPorts. I don't want to just get a better editor, I want to learn something in the process.

  • 1
    Just a quick note, you will save yourself a lot of pain by not using spaces in directory names. Jul 12, 2011 at 5:01
  • @Greg Duly noted. Jul 12, 2011 at 5:01
  • I'm surprised you actually liked it first off! I recall hating it and raging on irc about how the escape key was too far from my fingers to toggle between insert/command mode quickly. Then someone pointed out that I could use ctrl-c and my rage abated fractionally.
    – sashang
    Jul 12, 2011 at 5:40
  • @sashang I was actually surprised too. This is the first time I've ever went non-gui. But, it's a learning curve and there's virtually nothing I was getting from Netbeans/Eclipse that I can't get from vim. And there's a lot I can get from vim that I can't get from Netbeans/Eclipse. I equate it to making the switch from Windows to Mac. Jul 12, 2011 at 5:45
  • 1
    Everything you need to know about $PATH.
    – Daniel Beck
    Jul 12, 2011 at 12:20

1 Answer 1


Type this into your terminal:

echo "export PATH=\"~/Source Code/vim:\$PATH\" " >> ~/.profile

This makes bash search ~/Source Code/vim/ for executables before any other directory, so it will find the vim there instead of the vim in /usr/bin/.

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