I use the solution from this question to display tabs with litlle ⸱ characters. It works but they appear on a lighter gray background than the dark gray background I am using. It is quite distracting as unimportant information is highlighted.

Is there a way to avoid that ? What should I do ?

I am using vim with the beloved solarized8 theme. I have the same behavior on Gnome Terminal, Terminator and Alacritty.

Thanks in advance.

  • 2
    Read :help 'listchars' (almost at the end).
    – Matt
    Commented May 5, 2021 at 15:00
  • 2
    And/or :help hl-SpecialKey.
    – filbranden
    Commented May 5, 2021 at 15:02
  • Thanks @Matt and filbranden. From what I understand tabs are now highlighted as specified by the SpecialKey group. How do I make them higlighted as the NonText group for example ?
    – cassepipe
    Commented May 5, 2021 at 15:47
  • 2
    @cassepipe :h 'hl' (Vim only, not supported in Neovim).But, I think, it' more common to set it up the other way round (i.e. to change colorscheme / SpecialKey colors). I'm pretty sure there were many similar questions asked already.
    – Matt
    Commented May 5, 2021 at 17:07

1 Answer 1


The lazy way is to put hi SpecialKey ctermbg=NONE in your .vimrc after calling in your favorite colorscheme.

Else you can read this gist and learn some true vim wizardry : https://gist.github.com/romainl/379904f91fa40533175dfaec4c833f2f

Why SpecialKey ? The answer resides at the end of the :help 'listchars' section of the help pages.


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