If I open a file with vim dir/to/my/file.c how can I easily open the directory dir/to/my in vim's filebrowser?

11 Answers 11


Try :Ex[plore]. From :help Ex:

:Explore will open the local-directory browser on the current file's directory (or on directory [dir] if specified). The window will be split only if the file has been modified, otherwise the browsing window will take over that window. Normally the splitting is taken horizontally.

  • Make sure you set nocompatible on your .vimrc or somewhere else. If you open vim in compatible mode (e..g, vim -u NONE), even if you set nocompatible later, netrw plugin won't be loaded and you won't be able to run :Ex. The following setting might be necessary, too: filetype plugin on. More details here: vi.stackexchange.com/questions/29343/….
    – awvalenti
    Mar 20 at 12:49

I personally prefer the:


command. It does the split window for you, and drops you into the current directory.

:Sex dir/to/my

works too.

  • 22
    You can also use :Vex to open the directory in a vertical split.
    – Chuan Ma
    Jun 25, 2014 at 16:56
  • 8
    And it turns out that Tex was exactly what I was looking for (rather than tabe.) Apr 28, 2016 at 13:42
  • 1
    Why can I never remember this shortcut Aug 18, 2018 at 6:17
  • :Sex is short for :Sexplore and :Vex is short for :Vexplore , and so on.
    – Flimm
    Aug 15, 2023 at 6:58

You could use:

:e %:h

More info on expansions is here: http://vimdoc.sourceforge.net/htmldoc/eval.html#expand()

  • I love this! You can run this command repeatedly to keep going up one directory.
    – Flimm
    Aug 15, 2023 at 6:59
  • To turn it into a keyboard shortcut binding to F4, add this to your .vimrc file: noremap <F4> :e %h<cr>
    – Flimm
    Aug 15, 2023 at 7:00

As already mentioned, you can just do ":Explore" and it will open the file explorer for the directory of the current file.

However, if you need to explicitly specify the directory, you can use ctrl+r on the :-command line to read the contents of any register in, and the % register is the current filename, including a path if necessary. So, just do :e ctrl+r% then backspace over the filename, and press enter.

There are other ways to do it, but this is the method I usually use.

  • 7
    I know this is way old, but you can also do :e %[tab] which will expand % for you.
    – Brian
    Dec 7, 2011 at 15:20

For opening Windows Explorer showing current file's directory :

:!start explorer /select,%:p

(Source : http://vim.wikia.com/wiki/Open_Windows_Explorer_showing_directory_of_current_buffer )

:e `dirname %`

dirname expands to the directory in which current file is.


Just :E should do it. Tested on neovim.

  • 2
    How do we go back to the file after :E?
    – user674669
    Jan 5, 2021 at 5:16
  • 1
    Use this command :Rex Oct 30, 2021 at 9:42
  • 1
    Just Re, no need for x, appears to work to go back and forth between netrw and editing a file. Nov 25, 2022 at 18:50

:e dir/to/my/

:e . opens the directory you initially launched vim from.

Vim browser 'c' sets the working directory.

I'm not sure if there is a way to automatically jump to the directory of the file you are editing.


If you edit with the pwd command on unix it will open the current directory you are in.

:e `pwd`

This will not work like you want it if you did a cd while in vim.


if you want to actually get a shell in it you'll need to :lcd %:p:h run :shell and then restore the working directory after you've exited


If you want to launch a custom terminal emulator in your current directory's buffer, add something like this to your vimrc:

" Set Vim's current directory to the opened buffer
set autochdir
nmap <leader>k :silent !kitty &<cr>

Replace kitty with your favorite terminal emulator.

See also:

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