Vim, by default, opens all .md files as "modula2" code. I have never heard of modula2, nor do I plan to use it.

How can I tell vim to always treat foo.md as Markdown (as if I had typed :set ft=markdown)?

  • On what distribution is this the case? I am currently running Archlinux and .md is being seen as markdown
    – Neikos
    Feb 4, 2015 at 0:25
  • @Neikos This is on Ubuntu 14.04.
    – Doorknob
    Feb 4, 2015 at 0:30
  • on fedora as well I correctly get markdown syntax on .md files
    – guido
    Feb 4, 2015 at 0:33
  • 2
    This has already been answered on SO. You may find more and different information there.
    – bsmith89
    Feb 4, 2015 at 0:43
  • 3
    FYI, as of Vim 7.4.480, *.md files are recognized as Markdown instead of modula2 by default.
    – fwalch
    Feb 5, 2015 at 20:49

2 Answers 2


In the file filetype.vim that is shipped with your distribution you will find a line that looks probably similar to this (on my machine it lives at /usr/share/vim/vim74) :

au BufNewFile,BufRead *.md,*.m2,*.mi setf modula2

Now, this tells vim to set the filetype as modula2 if your file has such an ending.

To override this behaviour you can put a line like this in your own .vimrc (Taken from the Archlinux filetype.vim) :

au BufNewFile,BufRead *.markdown,*.mdown,*.mkd,*.mkdn,*.mdwn,*.md  set ft=markdown


I previously had setf as the function to be called, but it seems to be a reserved function for the filetype.vim file.


I currently have this line as an ugly hack in my .vimrc:

autocmd BufRead *.md set ft=markdown

I'm still wondering if there's a better way, though.

  • 1
    this does not work in fedora, it seems the /usr/share/vim/vim74/filetype.vim definitions will override this setting
    – guido
    Feb 4, 2015 at 1:01
  • @guido, I wonder if that depends on when you enable filetype detection? If you add that autocmd after filetype on (with or without the plugin / indent flags), I would guess the results are better. Not tested, just speculation.
    – tommcdo
    Feb 6, 2015 at 15:00

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