When working on a file, I often open another file by

  1. looking for the file by opening the file browser in a vertical split with :Vex
  2. Opening the file

it's actually nice to have the file browser show up on the left side, but I would like to have the 2nd file then open on the right split.

Similar in case I want to open a file based on a horizontal split with :Hex. I then would like to have the browser showing up on top and the file to open at the bottom.

I've tried with adding

set splitright
set splitbelow

to my .vimrc, but that only affects splits initiated by :vsp and :sp for a vertical and horizontal split, respectively.

I know I can rotate the splits afterwards with Ctl+W followed by r, but I would love to immediately have it like described.

Thanks in advance for any ideas!

  • 1
    So effectively, the browser shouldn’t close, but pop open the buffer in the other existing window? Nerdtree does this, but I recommend against it (cf. vimcasts.org/blog/2013/01/…)
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Mar 25, 2020 at 12:54
  • Ah no, it's fine if the browser disappears again. And it's probably less confusing if it opens within the split where the new file will appear (like the solution provided by @filbranden). Anyway, thanks for the interesting article!
    – Wolfson
    Mar 25, 2020 at 16:17

2 Answers 2


How to make :Vex / :Hex open on the right side / below?

Both these commands have a variant with ! that switches to splitting on the opposite side.

So you can use :Vex! and :Hex! to open on the right side, and below, respectively.

See :help netrw-:Vexplore:

:[N]Vexplore [dir] does an :Explore with :leftabove vertical splitting.
:[N]Vexplore! [dir] does an :Explore with :rightbelow vertical splitting.

And quite similarly on :help netrw-:Hexplore.

  • 1
    Just a '!' -> sometimes it's so easy, one only has to know :) Thanks a lot!
    – Wolfson
    Mar 25, 2020 at 16:15
  • 1
    @Wolfson Best advice I can give you is learn to explore the Vim help system as efficiently as you can. Vim's documentation is really really good overall! (Not perfect of course, but still really really good.) You'll find the answer to most questions there. So spend some time exploring it and trying to get more efficient in using it. Cheers!
    – filbranden
    Mar 25, 2020 at 16:45
  • thanks for pushing, I know I have to do this.
    – Wolfson
    Mar 25, 2020 at 17:42

If you want the file explorer buffer to stay open on the left side and the file to open up on the buffer to the right, :Lex has the exact same effect.

  • thanks for the hint, didn't know this. This however is not really what I was looking for since it does not open the 2nd file in a split. Anyway, meanwhile, I'm using the NERDtree plugin for an explorer continuously opened on the left side. With this, it's easy to open another file in a desired split as well ;)
    – Wolfson
    Nov 10, 2020 at 11:06

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