I start up vim from mac terminal like so:

vim filename

But my colorschemes do not load properly (I tried loading desert.vim, desert256.vim and solarized.vim).

desert256.vim has a black background and white text.

desert.vim doesn't make a difference.

solarized.vim has blue font and grey background.

I tried a lot of solutions online, but cannot get it to work. (like adding lines to .vimrc). My current .vimrc is:

syntax enable
set background=dark
colorscheme desert256
set t_Co=256
let colors_name = "desert"
  • You shouldnt need to let colors_name or set t_Co (it should be automatically detected). Can you explain what you mean by “do not load properly”? Add your vim version as well. Is this a coloring issue, or is the colorscheme command failing (check runtimepath)?
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Feb 26, 2019 at 15:11
  • if you run colorscheme darkblue does it change your background to dark blue?
    – Maxim Kim
    Feb 26, 2019 at 16:30
  • Add associated pictures, it would help us understand.
    – kadekai
    Feb 26, 2019 at 17:49

2 Answers 2


It is very common for a fancy colorscheme (such as solarized, base16-*, you name it) to require palette changes in a terminal. Without it you will face ugly colors.

I generally avoid such colorschemes in terminals and use them only in GUI vim.

To solve it -- goto the place you have obtained colorscheme, find description on how to properly use it. Usually it is smth about changing first 16 terminal colors. Solarized example: https://github.com/altercation/solarized . There you can find how to redefine your colors for different stuff including osx terminal.


There are also colorshemes that are not made with terminals in mind -- they define only gui colors.


Look for colorschemes that are compatible with the terminal and the mac OS terminal colors. Here is a list of them (search for the word "solarized"): https://github.com/rafi/awesome-vim-colorschemes

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