(I know the goals are dumb, and I know I could set ffs=unix,dos to not see ^M; I'm just trying to understand more about vim).

I was playing around with vim keywords, because I want to conceal certain things. I was able to successfully hide a keyword with syntax like this:

syn keyword Windows happy conceal cchar=A
set conceallevel=2

This would successfully create a keyword group called "Windows" that conceals happy and replaces it with A in my text.

I cannot do the same with control characters:

syn keyword Windows ^M conceal cchar=A
set conceallevel=2

Whether I type out ^M or use CtrlVCtrlM, I am unable to conceal a control character.

Nothing in :help syn mentions anything about control characters being excluded (it only says I can't have cchar be a control character).

What am I doing wrong?

1 Answer 1


I cannot do the same with control characters.

When you use syn keyword Vim is actually trying to match keywords, which are defined as sequences of characters included in 'iskeyword'.

From :help :syn-keyword:

Don't forget that a keyword can only be recognized if all the characters are included in the 'iskeyword' option. If one character isn't, the keyword will never be recognized.

You can have that recognize a ^M by adding it to 'iskeyword':

setlocal iskeyword+=13
syn keyword Windows ^M conceal cchar=A
set conceallevel=2

(Note that ^M above is entered as Ctrl+V, Enter.)

But note that syn keyword will only recognize ^M when it appears on its own, surrounded by whitespace, as a keyword, and not when it's right at the end of another word, which would be more typical...

A better solution is to use syn match for this case, which uses a regular expression to define a match. In that case, you can use '\r' as a pattern to match any ^M anywhere in the line:

syn match Windows '\r' conceal cchar=A
set conceallevel=2

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