I upgraded my mac to Catalina and now the vim syntax looks all off to me. I am sure that strings used to be red, and I think that def used to be turquoise and import was pink. Is there a simple way for me to change the default syntax coloring so that strings are displayed in red text?

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For reference, here is my .vimrc file:

:map <S-s><S-s> :w<CR> 
set undofile
set undodir=/Users/kilojoules/.vim/

syntax on
execute pathogen#infect()

autocmd BufReadPost *
     \ if line("'\"") > 0 && line("'\"") <= line("$") |
     \   exe "normal! g`\"" |
     \ endif
set undofile                " Save undo's after file closes
set undodir=$HOME/.vim/undo " where to save undo histories
  • It's quite possible the background detection improved (or catalina's terminal better signaled its background) and so the default colorscheme went from behaving like :set bg=light to :set bg=dark. You could possibly even test if that's the case by setting the background and seeing what happens.
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Commented May 17, 2022 at 20:53
  • @D.BenKnoble This was exactly the issue thanks for pointing that out
    – kilojoules
    Commented May 21, 2022 at 19:19
  • 1
    please add an answer if you have one that solved your problem!
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Commented May 22, 2022 at 16:43

2 Answers 2


You can choose a colorscheme and set it in your ~/.vimrc

colorscheme <colorscheme_name>


I completely understand your problem. The issue is that the new system is better at detecting the background as being dark. Simply add

set bg=light

to your .vimrc file my friend. That should restore your color scheme to the one you know and love.

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