Take a plugin like Flake8. It instructs users to install using Vim 8's package manager by:

mkdir -p ~/.vim/pack/flake8/start/
cd ~/.vim/pack/flake8/start/
git clone https://github.com/nvie/vim-flake8.git

On Windows, this brings up some questions about the compatibility of these paths. What is ~ here? Should the files actually go in ~/.vim, or should they go in the Windows equivalent - ~/vimfiles?

You can answer these questions by:

  1. Using :echo expand('~') and :echo $HOME to learn what ~ and $HOME mean.
  2. Using :set packpath to show your packpath.

These are the answers I get on my copy of Windows 10, with a fresh install of Vim 8.1:

:set packpath

packpath=~/vimfiles,C:\Program Files (x86)\Vim/vimfiles,C:\Program Files (x86) \Vim\vim81,C:\Program Files (x86)\Vim/vimfiles/after,~/vimfiles/after

:echo expand('~')


:echo $HOME


From those answers, it seems like the place to make the pack/*/start directories is in C:\Users\user.name\vimfiles.

However, that doesn't work! If I put the Flake8 files in C:\Users\user.name\vimfiles\pack\flake8\start, they don't get automatically loaded. And this problem doesn't seem to be with just with Flake8 - this doesn't work with any plugin I've tried.

Looking at :scriptnames, the only scripts that are picked up are in C:\Program Files (x86). Nothing in ~.

Note that there is no _vimrc or .vimrc file in ~ or ~/vimfiles or ~/.vim at this time.

I can verify that Flake8 works just fine if it's sourced manually, like so:

:source ~\vimfiles\pack\flake8\start\autoload\flake8.vim
:source ~\vimfiles\pack\flake8\start\ftplugin\python_flake8.vim 

Is it possible to use the Vim 8 package manager on a per-user basis when Vim is running on Windows? If it is, what am I doing wrong?

  • Excellent detailed question! You happened to include the bit that exposed the issue you're likely having.
    – filbranden
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 23:18

1 Answer 1


The bit you quoted about sourcing the files manually gave it away:

I can verify that Flake8 works just fine if it's sourced manually, like so:

:source ~\vimfiles\pack\flake8\start\autoload\flake8.vim
:source ~\vimfiles\pack\flake8\start\ftplugin\python_flake8.vim 

You need to have a plug-in directory under start/ and the plug-in contents inside that directory.

In your case, you should have a vim-flake8/ under start/ and autoload/ and ftplugin/ under that subdirectory:


If you follow the git clone instructions you referred to (adapting to ~/vimfiles), you should end up with a tree such as this one here.

  • 1
    Thank you! I missed that when I got caught up in the difference between ~/.vim and ~\vimfiles.
    – EchoLynx
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 23:28
  • 1
    I find that while vim in Powershell can find these plugins, when vim is launched from git like git rebase -i ... it doesn't find the relevant plugins anymore. Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 5:40

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