I got a new laptop (macOS Big Sur 11.5.1) and vim does not work correctly in an XQuartz terminal window. Many commands that should erase characters on the screen (such as backspacing while in insert mode, typing D in command mode to delete a line, typing :refresh!, etc.) do not have any effect on what the screen displays.

The only fix I've found so far is typing


after starting to edit a file, but this must be done every time, and I want a better solution. The post Vim display won't refresh suggested setting the system LANG to ASCII instead of UTF-8, but I was unclear on exactly how to do this.

Various other proposed solutions did not work, including running

vim -u NONE -U  NONE -N

Additional information: I am running /bin/bash with $TERM=xterm; in vi, :set bs? returns backspace=2 and :set compatible returns nocompatible

  • 2
    Most likely the XQuartz terminal is not a real xterm and not really compatible. Try using something like TERM=vt100 or TERM=vt200 or try with one of those builtin terminals, see :h builtin-terms (e.g. :set term=builtin_ansi or :set term=builtin_xterm). Jul 29, 2021 at 19:08
  • 2
    Or use a non XQuartz terminal (Terminal.app is good, though lacks true color)
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Jul 29, 2021 at 20:52

1 Answer 1


I had the exact same problem and solved it by changing the font. You can either do this through xrdb (xterm*font) or by clicking control+right click and selecting a font such as huge.

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