I usually have multiple instances of vim running on the same machine. When I make a change to my vimrc I can just :source ~/.vimrc (with an easy mapping or an autocmd). But in order to have all running instances reflect the change I have to run that in each of them separately. Can I use the clientserver feature to tell all instances to reload my vimrc?

I would also be interested in solutions that don't use clientserver.

2 Answers 2


You can tell a Vim server to reload the vimrc file like so:

$ vim --servername MARTIN --remote-send '<Esc>:source $MYVIMRC<CR>' 

And you can get a list of all servers with:

$ vim --serverlist

Which can be combined with a for loop:

$ for s in $(vim --serverlist); do vim --servername "$s" --remote-send '<Esc>:source $MYVIMRC<CR>'; done

Since that's a lot of typing, you could put it in a shell script in ~/bin/reload-vimrc; you can of course also call it from within Vim:


If you're running Linux, and want to get really crazy, you could use inotifywatch from inotify-tools to monitor your vimrc file(s) for changes, and execute this automatically on every change (untested, example adapted from manpage)

$ inotifywatch -v -e modify -t 60 -r ~/.vimrc ~/.vim

I wouldn't recommend this, though ... If you accidentally save a file with a syntax error you could bork all your vim session...


I don't know about clientserver, but since you said you were interested in other solutions I would recommend looking into this writeup about dotfiles from Github.


You obviously don't have to use Github, but the concepts are sound and seem to be widely used.

  • While I do think having your dotfiles under version control is awesome, I was specifically asking about instances of vim running on the same machine (I've updated the question).
    – xthrd
    Feb 3, 2015 at 21:14
  • 1
    -1; This answer doesn't really have any bearing on the asked question. The question is about reloading vimrc, not managing vimrc. Feb 6, 2015 at 15:30
  • The original question prior to my answer did not make it clear he was talking about instances on the same machine. At the time my answer did address the question.
    – tgrosinger
    Feb 6, 2015 at 15:34

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