In gvim the command :browse confirm e launches a GTK file browser. The default file mask in this window depends on the filetype from which the browse window is invoked. I would like to change that default file mask depending on the filetype. For example from .cpp file the mask is *.cpp *.c++ and I want to add *.hpp *.ipp there. From python file the mask is *.py I would like it to be *. And so on.

I use gvim version 8.1.141 on linux devuan beowulf.

The GTK browser invoked by gvim

(I could not find proper tags for this question, I tried to use tags: file browser, gtk, wildcard, glob, mask)

So far by grepping gvim sources I have found:

grep -E "\*\.cpp \*\.c++" . -r --color

./runtime/ftplugin/pyrex.vim:                   \ "C++ Source Files (*.cpp *.c++)\t*.cpp;*.c++\n" .
./runtime/ftplugin/c.vim:    let b:browsefilter = "C++ Source Files (*.cpp *.c++)\t*.cpp;*.c++\n" .
./runtime/ftplugin/c.vim:         \ "C++ Source Files (*.cpp *.c++)\t*.cpp;*.c++\n" .

So what is b:browsefilter and how to use it?

The :h browsefilter says that "You can override the filter setting on a per-buffer basis by setting the b:browsefilter variable.".

But I want to override it not per-buffer, but per-filetype from where the browse dialog was invoked.

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this site is about vi/vim, not the GTK file browser.
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 16:10
  • 1
    Well, the glob information is passed on from gvim. How else the browser would know which buffer inside gvim was active upon invocation? I am thinking about grepping gvim sources to find the variable name for that. Was hoping that someone knows it. OK, so far I got this: grep -E "\*\.cpp \*\.c\+\+" . -r --color yields: ./runtime/ftplugin/c.vim: let b:browsefilter = "C++ Source Files (*.cpp *.c++)\t*.cpp;*.c++\n". So what is b:browsefilter and how to use it ? Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 17:05
  • ah interesting; didnt know that. Your best first stop is always :help browsefilter
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 17:09

1 Answer 1


The browsefilter variable is a convenient way to add custom glob like filters for the graphical :browse dialog and select only the relevant filetypes for display.

As you discovered, those are usually set in the filetype plugins. If you want to customize those filters, create a file in ~/.vim/after/ftplugin/<filetype>.vim (replace <filetype> by the wanted filetype, e.g. c and python) and add the following content (this example is for your c filetype):

if exists("b:browsefilter")
    let b:browsefilter = "My C Source Files (cpp,c++,hpp,ipp)\t*.cpp;*.c++;*.hpp;*.ipp\n". b:browsefilter

It is important to place this in the after directory, as the default filetype needs to be run first to initialize the b:browsefilter variable that you can than customize further.

  • Thank you! It works perfectly. A bonus question: how can I tell a running gvim session to reload ~/.vim/after/ftplugin/<filetype>.vim ? Ah OK :source ~/.vim/after/ftplugin/c.vim worked :) Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 16:13

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