I'm trying to make transparent the tabline of the vim-airline, as in the second picture. I'm using the onedark colorscheme. They don't have a color specific for that. They use the same color variable for the statusbar and the cursorline. So if I put the following command in my init.vim, I change all three (tabline, statusbar and cursorline):

let g:onedark_color_overrides = {
\ "cursor_grey": { "gui": "#2C323C", "cterm": "NONE", "cterm16": "0" },

I don't want to change the color of the cursorline.

I'm able to get the result I want for a specific session, using:

:hi airline_tabfill ctermbg=NONE

But I don't want to do this every time I open neovim. It doesn't work putting this command in the init.vim file.

Doing a little research, I found some people that put this command in a file in the ~/.vim/after/ directory. As I'm using neovim, I've tried this approach creating a file in the ~/.config/nvim/after/ directory. But it did nothing. I've also tried the ~/.config/nvim/after/plugin/ directory, and got nothing.

Interestingly, if I put this command in a file in the ~/.config/nvim/after/ftplugin/ directory, I get the result I want. However, in that way I need to create a file for every filetype I want this result and put that command. That is a horrible solution.

Any thought on how to do it in a more efficient way?

And can anyone tell me why I'm able to get this result putting the command hi airline_tabfill ctermbg=NONE in a file like tex.vim or python.vim in the ~/.config/nvim/after/ftplugin/ directory but can't do it for all filetypes putting this command in a file in the ~/.config/nvim/after/plugin/ directory?

Non-transparent tabline

Transparent tabline

  • Hi, thank you for the suggestions. I've tried all of the options you'd mentioned, but none of them seems to have worked. I've put autocmd FileType * hi airline_tabfill ctermbg=NONE and autocmd ColorScheme * hi airline_tabfill ctermbg=NONE before and after colorscheme onedark. But unortunely it didn't change anything.
    – rpmeira
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 0:57
  • I have airline and tried a couple things. I, too, couldn't change the highlight by just putting the statement in my vimrc but looking at the docs I found airline specific autocommands and this one seems to do the trick: autocmd User AirlineAfterInit hi airline_tabfill ...
    – B Layer
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 3:17
  • If this works for you let me know and I'll post a formal answer. (Which I'd appreciate you accepting...before you disappear forever...which happens a lot with first time question posters. :D )
    – B Layer
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 3:47
  • 1
    It worked! thank you so much, I really appreciate. Sure thing, I'll accept it.
    – rpmeira
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 11:11
  • Welcome to Vi and Vim!
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 18:21

1 Answer 1


As I alluded to in my (now deleted) comments this seemed to just be a matter of timing, i.e. you need some way to specify your hi customization such that it doesn't get clobbered by vim-airline's own setup.

Being a vim-airline user myself, I did :h airline then /autocommands. That quickly revealed that the plugin has five "user-defined" autocommands. Of the five, the one that seemed most likely to help was this one:

AirlineAfterInit : after plugin is initialized, but before the statusline is replaced

Source: :h airline-autocommands

So I tried putting the following in my vimrc:

    autocmd User AirlineAfterInit hi airline_tabfill ctermbg=NONE
augroup END

And lo and behold it worked. (The "user-defined" part I mentioned above is how I knew to use User here since it's not explicitly mentioned in that section of the docs.)

  • 1
    Yay, after 2 years I don't have anymore light grey on dark grey inactive tabs...
    – RobM
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 7:02
  • 1
    @RobM LOL. Yay, after 1 year I don't have zero upvotes on this answer... ;) (And I just noticed I had a typo, too! The doc excerpt had one autocommand but the example used another.)
    – B Layer
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 5:01

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