I have multiple projects (folders), and each of them has its corresponding tags generated.

I found every time I launch vim it only links to my first tags file (:set tags?), I need to manually set the proper tags for each project.

Is there a way to configure vim so every time I launch a file in a specific project that tags gets set?

For example:

  • If I launch any file vim ~/ProjectA/src/main.cpp will set tags=~/ProjectA/tags
  • similary vim ~/ProjectB/include/header.h will set tags=~/ProjectB/tags


  • A simple and effective way is to start vim in the right directory, or :cd there. I almost always start vim from the project root and rarely :cd away from there.
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 16:56
  • :cd does change the directory, but it doesn't change where the tags is pointing to. I'm not sure if it's possible to have something in vimrc to check my current dir (root of project dir) and then set the tag to the correct tags file for the project?
    – JZ67
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 19:26
  • Sorry, I should have clarified: this should work when your tags file is in the root of the project and tags contains ./tags or tags; you can do fancier things (:h file-searching). And tagfiles() for showing what's actually used. The reason is, after changing directories, vim should be able to look in the new pwd for tags (well, ./tags looks in the directory of the current file).
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 19:59
  • 1
    Welcome to Vi and Vim!
    – filbranden
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 23:16

1 Answer 1


You can use:

set tags=./tags;

(You can also include the other entries from the default 'tags', such as just tags, which means a file with that name in the current directory, and also the uppercase variants, if those interest you as well. Use commas to separate different entries. The ; is not a separator.)

This will look for a file named tags on either the same directory as the current file, or on a directory above it. The search keeps going up until reaching the root of the tree.

See :help file-searching, in specific:

  1. Upward search:

Here you can give a directory and then search the directory tree upward for a file. You could give stop-directories to limit the upward search. The stop-directories are appended to the path (for the 'path' option) or to the filename (for the 'tags' option) with a ';'. If you want several stop-directories separate them with ';'. If you want no stop-directory ("search upward till the root directory) just use ';'.

  • 1
    Thanks fibranden!
    – JZ67
    Commented Feb 5, 2021 at 3:10

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