I am just starting to make the Textmate to Vim switch. I love it, but it's so ugly.

I'm running Mac OS X Lion and needed Ruby support so I am using Vim 7.3 as installed via Homebrew not the Vim Lion ships with.

Then I see Corey Haines doing his fast specs talk and his Vim is... it's just gorgeous. http://confreaks.net/videos/641-gogaruco2011-fast-rails-tests

I look at his GitHub dotfiles, there's a note to use a repo called Vimlander2 the quickening. Following the instructions there and I have a different looking but still ugly Vim. https://github.com/spicycode/Vimlander-2-The-Quickening

I am brand new to Vim so there's probably something silly I'm missing-- I upgraded to Lion specifically because the terminal could handle the colors, but something is still off.

I am getting better and better with Vim everyday and am really liking it, but I opened Textmate the other day to do a project wide search and, well I was swayed briefly by the beauty just before I caught myself typing :wq

I would really appreciate your Vim beauty tips--thanks!

  • Check out SPF13 It turns any vi environment into a development work horse. tmux + vi + spf13
    – user361018
    Aug 24, 2014 at 1:35

4 Answers 4

  1. Old versions of Terminal.app only supported 16 colors and you are right that Lion's Terminal.app is supposed to support 256 colors. But he is not using CLI Vim, he is using MacVim. That makes a huge difference on the colorscheme front because CLI Vim won't support all the shades of colors one can use in a colorscheme for GUI Vim. If you want a "beautiful" Vim like his make sure you use MacVim.

  2. That "Vimlander2" package has about 20 colorschemes (in colors). In MacVim, while in NORMAL mode, type :color (with a blank space after color) then hit <Tab> to display a list of all the colorschemes available on your system. If your package is installed correctly (eg you have ~/.vim/colors/[20 or so files]) you will have a lot of choice. Once you are satisfied, add a line like this one to your ~/.vimrc:

    colorscheme nameofyourfavoritecolorscheme
  3. I think that MacVim's default font is Monaco. If you don't like it you can change it in the "Edit" menu but your choice won't stick. Use it to try all the monospaced fonts active on your Mac. Once you are satisfied, add a line like this one to your ~/.vimrc:

    set guifont=nameofyourfavoritefont:h12

    See :help guifont for more info.

  4. Why did you need Ruby support for? Did you need a specific plugin written in Ruby?

  5. You wouldn't know how often I type o to open a blank line under the current one in other apps.

  • Thank you! The distinction here is that I was not using CLI Vim and not MacVim. I briefly looked at MacVim and was horrified, however not I see that the vim customizations go a real long way and that it's MacVim that will allow me to get the look I'm after.
    – Hugh Jamps
    Dec 23, 2011 at 16:58
  • Why did you want Ruby support?
    – romainl
    Dec 25, 2011 at 8:56

These links will be useful:

Making the switch



Inspiration NuColors by crshd (dotshare.it)

  • Thank you! The links are very useful. I have accepted romainl's answer though because it illuminates the difference between CLI Vim and MacVim.
    – Hugh Jamps
    Dec 23, 2011 at 16:59
  • What colorscheme are you using in the picture?
    – Vlad
    Nov 13, 2015 at 12:46
  • @Vlad Vim::NuColors by crshd Nov 20, 2015 at 20:55

I use https://github.com/alloy/macvim which has a textmate (mac) like project drawer, and PeepOpen, http://peepcode.com/products/peepopen which is an improvement over Command-T.

Combine this with the Solarized theme ( http://ethanschoonover.com/solarized ) and I think MacVim's pretty close to being pretty! And least not totally ugly.

I would love to see TextMate style RSpec bundle output, and ideally a webkit style window/pane added in, but I don't know of anyone that's done that yet.


With proper settings and a cute theme we could easily make vim to look as good as gvim or even better; along with a modern terminal of course!

Side-by-side Preview of Vim and Gvim: Vim vs Gvim Look

The guide here is neither meant for Terminal.app nor making vim beautiful, It is about making Vim Solarized theme (terminal-mode) look as same as in Gvim. The steps should work equally well for any terminal emulator or OS.

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