To switch between buffers without installing any plugins, a good way is to type

:b <tab>

Which shows all the current buffer names in status bar and you can pick one using cursor keys and enter.

But :b <tab> is 5 keystrokes and I would like to map it to a <leader>.

But setting the following is not working.

:nnoremap <Leader>. :b <Tab>

It shows ":b ^I" in status bar and doesn't actually open the buffer names on status bar.

Anyone knows why?

  • the buffers (note the 's') command lists the buffers, while the buffer (no 's') command, when it is given an option, will change which buffer is shown in the window.
    – lornix
    Jul 6, 2012 at 0:36

2 Answers 2


You need to set the wildcharm setting. Try this:

set wildcharm=<Tab>
nnoremap <leader>. :b <Tab>

At least this works here.

  • Wow! Thank you. I've never heard/read about it.
    – romainl
    Jul 6, 2012 at 7:56
  • YES! That fixed it!!! OSX on MacBook. Thank you:-)
    – CDR
    Jul 8, 2012 at 5:50

I think that it has something to do with <tab> not being a real argument for :b.

If you drop the tab, as in nnoremap <leader>. :b<space> you can hit <tab> to get the menu.

You are down to 3 keystrokes to summon the menu but you may still have to hit <tab> more times to select the correct buffer and hit <CR>. That's a minimum of 4 keystrokes if you want the 1st buffer which is quite nice but what if you want the 7th or 12th buffer?

May I suggest another way?

nnoremap <leader>. :ls<CR>:b<Space>

With this mapping, a list of buffers (:ls) is displayed and the :b command is initiated, waiting for a buffer number as argument. That's 4 keystrokes (,.5<CR>), whatever buffer you want to jump to (well, if you have 10 or more buffers that would be 5 keystrokes but you get the point).

I don't know how you could make it shorter beside mapping a single key (like <F11> or whatever).

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