I love vim's syntax highlighting. It does particularly well on unified diffs, so I use it very often like that:

diff -pu old new | vim -

I'm aware of one tip to use vim as a better less, but what I really want a way to simply output colored output (no paging). I'm sure it can be done, but how?


2 Answers 2


If you want ANSI output, I don't know of a way to accomplish that, but Vim has a :TOhtml command which I have been using in one of my Makefiles (simplified here):

vim -gf --noplugin -c 'if has("gui_running") | stop | endif' \
    -c 'runtime syntax/2html.vim' \
    -c 'w foo.html' -c 'qa!' foo

The first line where it runs "stop" if the GUI is running doesn't actually stop gVim, it just minimizes it. The second line with the "runtime" command is basically what :TOhtml does—I don't recall any more why I chose to do it that way instead of using :TOhtml. The third line writes "foo.html" and quits, and also includes the original file on the command line, which is "foo" in this case, and you could possibly change it to - instead.

  • + for you script. It's amazing
    – c0rp
    Jul 31, 2014 at 6:03
  • 1
    A comment to "I don't recall any more why I chose to do it that way instead of using :TOhtml", perhaps you didn't want to load all plugins. If you use TOhtml instead you have to remove --noplugin.
    – 244an
    Oct 26, 2016 at 18:03
  • @244an: You're right. That's almost certainly the reason.
    – Heptite
    Oct 26, 2016 at 18:05

Unfortunately I can't comment the question, this is why I write an answer and hope that a more privileged user converts my entry to a comment.

For the usage of diff, you can also try something like:

svn diff |colordiff

colordiff does a great job by coloring diff output, maybe you give it a try for this specific situation. Otherwise, Heptite's answer is the correct approach.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.