Created: 2012-03-23 10:19
Updated: 2014-04-11 03:21



Manage your 'runtimepath' with ease. In practical terms, pathogen.vim makes it super easy to install plugins and runtime files in their own private directories.


Install to ~/.vim/autoload/pathogen.vim. Or copy and paste:

mkdir -p ~/.vim/autoload ~/.vim/bundle; \
curl -so ~/.vim/autoload/pathogen.vim \

If you don't have curl, use wget -O - instead.

By the way, if you're using Windows, change all occurrences of ~/.vim to ~\vimfiles.

Runtime Path Manipulation

Add this to your vimrc:

call pathogen#infect()

If you're brand new to Vim and lacking a vimrc, vim ~/.vimrc and paste in the following super-minimal example:

call pathogen#infect()
syntax on
filetype plugin indent on

Now any plugins you wish to install can be extracted to a subdirectory under ~/.vim/bundle, and they will be added to the 'runtimepath'. Observe:

cd ~/.vim/bundle
git clone git://

Now fugitive.vim is installed. If you really want to get crazy, you could set it up as a submodule in whatever repository you keep your dot files in. I don't like to get crazy.

If you don't like the directory name bundle, you can pass a different name as an argument:

call pathogen#infect('stuff')

You can also pass an entire path instead. I keep the plugins I maintain under ~/src, and this is how I add them:

call pathogen#infect('~/src/vim/bundle')

Normally to generate documentation, Vim expects you to run :helptags on each directory with documentation (e.g., :helptags ~/.vim/doc). Provided with pathogen.vim is a :Helptags command that does this on every directory in your 'runtimepath'. If you really want to get crazy, you could even invoke Helptags in your vimrc. I don't like to get crazy.

Finally, pathogen.vim has a rich API that can manipulate 'runtimepath' and other comma-delimited path options in ways most people will never need to do. If you're one of those edge cases, look at the source. It's well documented.

Runtime File Editing

As a guy who writes a lot of Vim script, I edit a lot of runtime files. For example, when editing PDF files like I do every day, I might notice something weird in the syntax highlighting and want to have a look:

:sp $VIMRUNTIME/syntax/pdf.vim

Even the best case scenario with tab complete is painful:

:sp $VIMR<Tab>/synt<Tab>/pd<Tab>

The picture is even bleaker if the file in question sits in a bundle. Enter the V family of commands. The V stands for Vimruntime (work with me here).

:Vsp s/pd<Tab>

As you can see, not only does it eliminate the need to qualify the runtime path being targeted, the tab completion is friendlier, allowing you to expand multiple components at once. Here's me editing pathogen.vim itself:

:Ve a/pat<Tab>

In the event of duplicate files, you can give a count to disambiguate. Here's the full list of commands:

  • :Vedit
  • :Vsplit
  • :Vvsplit
  • :Vtabedit
  • :Vpedit
  • :Vread

All but :Vedit automatically :lcd to the target's runtime path. To suppress that behavior, use a !, and to :lcd with :Vedit, use :Vopen instead.


Can I put pathogen.vim in a submodule like all my other plugins?

Sure, stick it under ~/.vim/bundle, and prepend the following to your vimrc:

runtime bundle/vim-pathogen/autoload/pathogen.vim

Or if your bundles are somewhere other than ~/.vim (say, ~/src/vim):

source ~/src/vim/bundle/vim-pathogen/autoload/pathogen.vim

Will you accept these 14 pull requests adding a .gitignore for tags so I don't see untracked changes in my dot files repository?

No, but I'll teach you how to ignore tags globally:

git config --global core.excludesfile '~/.cvsignore'
echo tags >> ~/.cvsignore

While any filename will work, I've chosen to follow the ancient tradition of .cvsignore because utilities like rsync use it, too. Clever, huh?

What about Vimballs?

If you really must use one:

:e name.vba
:!mkdir ~/.vim/bundle/name
:UseVimball ~/.vim/bundle/name


If your commit message sucks, I'm not going to accept your pull request. I've explained very politely dozens of times that my general guidelines are absolute rules on my own repositories, so I may lack the energy to explain it to you yet another time. And please, if I ask you to change something, git commit --amend.

Beyond that, don't be shy about asking before patching. What takes you hours might take me minutes simply because I have both domain knowledge and a perverse knowledge of Vim script so vast that many would consider it a symptom of mental illness. On the flip side, some ideas I'll reject no matter how good the implementation is. "Send a patch" is an edge case answer in my book.


Like pathogen.vim? Follow the repository on GitHub and vote for it on And if you're feeling especially charitable, follow tpope on Twitter and GitHub.


Copyright (c) Tim Pope. Distributed under the same terms as Vim itself. See :help license.

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