Recently on starting vim I've been getting an error message like this:

E575: viminfo: Illegal starting char in line: wait_until(lambda
_:<80><fc>^B ^[ldWA)^[:w^Mkkkdd^[:w^M<80><fd>c<80><fd>b248Gwwi_zzz^[:w^M<80><fd>c<80><fd>bkkkkj/refresh^M^c^[ma/browser.rfer<80>kb<80>kb<80>kbresh^[/refresh^MnN^ceb<80>kbdrie<80>kbver^[:w^M<80><fd>c<80><fd>b<80><fd>c<80><fd>b<80><fd>c<80><fd>b<80><fd>c<80><fd>b<80><fd>,<80><fd>-<80><fd>.^[^[^[^[<80><fd>W<80><fd>,<80><fd>.<80><fd>c<80><fd>b<80><fd>c<80><fd>b<80><fd>c<80><fd>bjodisplay_remaining_hours=<80>kb = trello9"<80>kb<80>kb("^V^V")^[^wwwwdt/..:w^M/zzz^Mkkjo@display_remaining_staff_hours^[ma/ldispla<80>kb<80>kb^[<80>kb^[ggjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjlkkkllllllllllllllllis<80>kb_staff^[*A.acceptance_test("At<80>kbT1")^[:w^Mjhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhdt(^[:w^M<80><fd>L<80><fd>L<80><fd>L<80><fd>L<80><fd>,<80><fd>.<80><fd>L<80><fd>L<80><fd>c<80><fd>b<80><fd>c<80><fd>b<80><fd>c<80>

It doesn't happen when I launch with vim -u NONE but it does happen if I clear out my entire ~/.vimrc and move my ~/.vim directory. It looks like there's an error in a tags file somewhere but I can't find with one.

Any ideas?

10 Answers 10


Turns out the answer was in the error message all along.. the offending file was ~/.viminfo which was somehow corrupted.

  • well, it does say the error is in the viminfo...
    – elyashiv
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 14:20
  • 2
    It does, but it says viminfo, not .viminfo or ~/.viminfo, so as someone who didn't even know that that file existed, it looked more like a generic tag than a filename. Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 21:12
  • And on windows it tends to be: "C:\Users\<username>_viminfo" Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 4:23

For me, this problem keeps showing up even if I delete the ~/.viminfo file - not right away, but a couple of days later.

I just noticed there's a way to skip using the viminfo file entirely, as detailed here:


In summary, put the following in your ~/.vimrc

let skip_defaults_vim=1
set viminfo=""

To solve this:

  1. rm ~/.viminfo
  2. vim ~/.viminfo # new file, leave it blank, then just wq.
  3. source terminal et voila
  • 2
    Welcome to Vi and Vim! Could you clarify "source terminal"? I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Also note that not all users are on *nix, so rm may not be the right term: perhaps you meant "Remove"? (similar with ~ in paths, etc.) I assume you mean :wq? If you structure the bullets in full sentences, you won't need to # comment out parts, and the whole answer would be more readable.
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 23:35
  • In addition to what Ben said (which I agree 100% with) note that your second step should be touch ~/.viminfo which is much more efficient than opening vim just to create a file. (Or even replace steps 1 and 2 by echo '' > ~/.viminfo)
    – statox
    Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 8:24

Noticed this error when I had forgot to start the line with : in .viminfo file for example set tabstop=4. To get rid of this error had to add : at the beginning of the line as below.

:set tabstop=4

For me, the problem was caused because I'd done a search-and-replace to replace a string which had been encoded in utf-8 but opened by Vim as encoding=latin1 . The string was saved in C:\Users\me_viminfo under "Command Line History" in these lines:


Deleting those lines from _viminfo stopped the error messages. But if I do a search-and-replace like that again, it will reappear.

  • Same for me. I went for tabula rasa, removed my .viminfo file entirely, and the error went away. But I'm afraid it will re-surface when I do a similar edit in the future. Commented Mar 25 at 7:13

I had the same issue. I think it occurred after I deleted a repo from my computer.

I first noticed it when trying to do a git merge from terminal, so I originally assumed it was an issue with git.

As describe above it is an issue with the ~/.viminfo file.

I resolved it by opening the ~/.viminfo in a text editor and removing the leading ".

Now everything seems to work fine again.


Removing ~/.viminfo only helped me to solve the problem temporarily. Later the error poped up again.

I finally resolved the problem by adding a > in the ~/.viminfo file.

I opened ~/.viminfo using vim and there was one line in red that showed up to me, so I just fixed that line through adding a >. You should add or delete something in your ~/.viminfo by comparing the wrong line in ~/.viminfo and other right lines.


I'm on Windows, and resolved this by removing the _viminfo file at user home directory (i.e. c:\Users\<username>\_viminfo).


Try this:

  1. rm ~/.viminfo
  2. touch ~/.viminfo

This solves my problem.

  • 1
    This is already covered in the other answers.
    – Herb
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 14:59

Maybe a viminfo save in default ansi encoding result illegal char, I have add c in viminfo parameters saved the question.

set viminfo=%,<100,'10,/50,:100,h,f0,c,n~/.vim/viminfo

See: https://vimhelp.org/options.txt.html#%27viminfo%27

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