I know that with commands like sbuffer you can create a new buffer and display it in a split window, and commands like enew can create a new buffer in the current window. But is it possible to not display the buffer in any way but just create a hidden buffer right away?

My use case is that I have a python class that should return a vim.buffer object to be processed. The display happens differently depending on conditions in the calling object. So I need a buffer that I can load, and write stuff into (it's a buffer not associated with any file, so it's a nofile buftype), but that is not displayed until I command to load into the current or some other window.

1 Answer 1


I'm not aware that you can create a hidden unnamed buffer.

But you can create a hidden (even unlisted) buffer with some fancy name and use that.

In VimScript:

let g:myscratch = bufnr("my-fancy-name", 1)
call setbufvar(g:myscratch, "&buftype", "nofile")

The first line returns the buffer number for the buffer named "my-fancy-name". If the buffer does not exist, it is created as hidden, unlisted buffer. So you don't see it with :ls.

The second line sets the buffer as nofile.

The buffer is created, but (for whatever reasons) you cannot write to it. You first have to activate it for a moment: [I didn't find another way to make it "writable".]

let curbuf = bufnr("")
execute g:myscratch . "buffer"
execute curbuf . "buffer"

If you do this short switch of buffers in a function, you won't see it (screen is not updated).

After that you can write to it with setbufline(g:myscratch, ...) and appendbufline(g:myscratch, ...).

To bring it to view:

execute g:myscratch . "buffer"

To finally delete it use bwipeout:

execute g:myscratch . "bwipeout"
  • Additionally i think bufadd can buffers without switching to them.
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Apr 11, 2019 at 13:15
  • @D.BenKnoble its the command :badd, but then you need a following bufnr()` to get the number for appendbufline() etc.
    – Ralf
    Apr 11, 2019 at 14:16
  • ah that makes sense i forgot about the writing part
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Apr 11, 2019 at 14:16
  • Can you link or explain why the short switch won't actually appear on the screen? When is the screen actually updated then? Apr 11, 2019 at 18:07
  • 1
    to make the buffer writable, call bufload(curbuf) would be sufficient Dec 23, 2021 at 22:53

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