While using WSL/Bash for Windows I want to be able to use y yy 3y and p the same way they always work in vim, but connecting to the system clipboard shared by all apps, not to vim's internal clipboard... I already have ditto to manage clipboard history.

It seems that Vim already has a built in option to synchronize the copy/paste buffer with the system clipboard... Yet the problem when running WSL is that you actually need to use /mnt/c/Windows/System32/clip.exe to access the clipboard... So even though I would like to be able to use:

set clipboard^=unnamed

It doesn't seem to have WSL support yet.

I understand the neovim does have this as an option, but I don't really want to experiment with neovim right now...

For now, the closest thing to a workaround that I've found is:

nnoremap <silent> <leader>y :call system('/mnt/c/Windows/System32/clip.exe', @0)<CR>
vnoremap <silent> <leader>y :call system('/mnt/c/Windows/System32/clip.exe', @0)<CR>

But this is a really horrible solution in my opinion... It makes copying a two-steps process...

Of course I can do some copy and paste with the mouse/shift+ins, yet I think there must be a way to get this synchronization to work properly in Vim.


3 Answers 3


I'm aware this is a very old question but I recently found a good solution. After much frustration, I came across these ways to access the windows system clipboard by copying and pasting.

By copying, with vim version >= 8.0.1394, as noted in another answer https://vi.stackexchange.com/a/15190

let s:clip = '/mnt/c/Windows/System32/clip.exe' 
if executable(s:clip)
    augroup WSLYank
        autocmd TextYankPost * call system('echo '.shellescape(join(v:event.regcontents, "\<CR>")).' | '.s:clip)
    augroup END

Pasting, mapping to fake registry commands, i.e. "=p or "+p or whatever.

map <silent> "=p :r !powershell.exe -Command Get-Clipboard<CR>
map! <silent> <C-r>= :r !powershell.exe -Command Get-Clipboard<CR>

" I thought this will be better :)
noremap "+p :exe 'norm a'.system('/mnt/c/Windows/System32/WindowsPowerShell/v1.0/powershell.exe -Command Get-Clipboard')<CR>

Right-click pasting works, but is unsatisfying if you don't want to use the mouse

  • On WSL vi I have added nnoremap <S-Insert> :r !powershell.exe -Command "& {Get-Clipboard}"<Enter>
    – Walter A
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 23:15
  • Thanks for the helpful answer! I was wondering if it would be possible to also use a fake register for the yank command. Something like noremap "+y :exe 'norm a'.system('echo '.shellescape(join(v:event.regcontents, "\<CR>")).' | clip.exe')<CR> (which doesn't work...)
    – Tropilio
    Commented Apr 21, 2020 at 8:41

What about this?

if system('uname -r') =~ "Microsoft"
  augroup Yank
    autocmd TextYankPost * :call system('clip.exe ',@")
  augroup END

uname is a Linux terminal command which returns OS info, such that it will return Linux for WSL. Whereas with -r flag, the command returns release info of OS, thus it should include "Windows".

TextYankPost is a vim event (see :h TextYankPost in vim), which detect your text yank activity.

clip.exe is a Windows command prompt's command in WSL (see CLIP /? in command prompt) which copy text or return from a command into clipbord via text | clip.exe or command | clip.exe. Here the clip.exe is executed from vim by vim function system.

  • 1
    in Neovim one can use has('wsl') instead of system('uname -r') =~ "Microsoft". Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 5:39

I've made a PR for WSL support to fakeclip some time ago.

See vimawesome on how to install it; help fakeclip for usage.

  • Still maintained?
    – Chris
    Commented Jan 13, 2019 at 15:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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