When running gvim by double clicking with a file in a graphical file manager, like nautilus, the vim instance is called with a strange current directory (seems root sometime, but I am not sure). This has the effect that file name completion (C-x C-f) is, well, not so useful.

I have a map that solve this:

nnoremap <silent> <F3> :lchdir %:p:h <CR>

so that I can hit F3 and I am done. I was trying to make it happens automatically whenever I start editing, so I tried:

autocmd FileReadPost *.tex :lchdir %:p:h <CR>

and with BufReadPost too, but it doesn't work.

What am I doing wrong?

Notice: Although set autochdir is working, it is doing this globally; in the help there is a scary notice:

Note: When this option is on some plugins may not work.

So it would be nice to be able to select for which buffers I want to do it, and not setting it globally.

  • possible duplicate of Make :edit {file} use current directory during :Explore
    – muru
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 11:54
  • @muru I'm not sure this is a duplicate ... The problem (having a strange cwd) should not occur at all in the first place, and netrw isn't involved here... Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 11:57
  • @Carpetsmoker alright.. So should I post autochdir as an answer?
    – muru
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 11:58
  • @muru yes (good spotting!) , because I just tested it and it works. Although it would be nice to know why the autocmd did not work; what if I'd like to have it enabled only for *.tex files for example?
    – Rmano
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 11:59

3 Answers 3


I just installed nautilus, and it seems the current working directory is always set to the directory nautilus was started from (ie. Vim inherits nautilus' working directory).

This is a problem in nautilus (IMHO), and not Vim. When nautilus starts a new process (Vim) it can set the working directory, but doesn't. If I check /proc/22656/cwd it's set to /home/martin.

I also have space-fm installed, and if I open the same file in that, /proc/22803/cwd is set to /home/martin/code (where I would expect it to be).

So, now we know what the problem is, let's look at your autocmd:

autocmd FileReadPost * :lchdir %:p:h <CR>

The FileReadPost does something different from what you expect, from :help FileReadPost:

After reading a file with a ":read" command.

But that's not what we're doing; when you open a file Vim doesn't use :read. What you want to use instead, is BufReadPost, from :help BufReadPost.

When starting to edit a new buffer

In Vi & Vim, when you think "file", or usually (though not always) want to think "buffer".

So this is what you want to use. You also don't need the <CR> here; that's just for key mappings (not autocmd)

So a working solution would be:

autocmd BufReadPost * :lchdir %:p:h

But wait, there's more!

Vim has the autochdir option which does the same thing! From :help autochdir:

When on, Vim will change the current working directory whenever you open a file, switch buffers, delete a buffer or open/close a window. It will change to the directory containing the file which was opened or selected.
Note: When this option is on some plugins may not work.

The note about plugins not working also applies to the autocmd.

  • Neither BufReadPost nor BufWinEnter (as suggested by @muru) work. set autochdir do work, but only globally. (BTW, I too think it's a bug/misfeature of Nautilus. Just searching a workaround)
    – Rmano
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 16:31
  • @Rmano Hmm, using BufReadPost works for me (tested it, in Nautilus); perhaps there is another autocmd in that's interfering? You can try starting Vim with blank vimrc file except for this one line. You can also replace the lchdir with echoerr(expand("%:p:h")) to show an "error" with the file path (this is useful for debugging). Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 16:36
  • Ok. Found it. If I call gvim /home/romano/path/file.tex it works, but if I call (as is doing my default action) exec gvim --servername desktop_0 --remote-tab-silent /home/romano/path/file.tex it does not work (desktop_0 is automatically generated for the current desktop). Now I am really puzzled.
    – Rmano
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 16:45
  • @Rmano Hm, it seems autocmd works different when using --remote? Not sure ... Need to test more ... Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 17:10
  • Ok, marking this as answered --- and posting another question. Thanks!
    – Rmano
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 18:00

Try the autodir setting in vimrc.

set autochdir

I think the ReadPost events aren't applicable since the documentation describes them as related to the :read command. You could try the Enter events, either BufEnter or BufWinEnter. For example:

autocmd BufWinEnter *.tex  lchdir %:p:h

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