I saw that you could display the current byte offset in the statusline using %o, but I found no function or command which does the same. Is there a way of getting the current byte offset pragmatically?

2 Answers 2


Try this:

function! FileOffset()
    return line2byte(line('.')) + col('.') - 1

This returns the 1-based offset in file, which is the same as %o in statusline. You can, of course, subtract 1 to get the 0-based offset.

  • One question, does col('.') actually return the byte offset in the line? Last I looked, it just showed the cursor column. Jul 6, 2015 at 16:12
  • @EvergreenTree According to :help col(): [t]he result is a Number, which is the byte index of the column position given with {expr}. I take it that's the 1-based byte offset...
    – lcd047
    Jul 6, 2015 at 16:14
  • Will the answer work in a file having this line only: abcäb ? (I haven't checked)
    – VanLaser
    Jul 6, 2015 at 16:14
  • 1
    @VanLaser It works in my quick tests. You tell us if it still works after extended testing.
    – lcd047
    Jul 6, 2015 at 16:16
  • Just tested and it works :)
    – VanLaser
    Jul 6, 2015 at 16:17

The other answer did not work for me when I opened a binary file without line ending. It seems that there is a bug in vim when it comes to counting bytes in a binary file without eol. (edit: yes, this was a bug. I have submitted a patch, which got accepted in 7.4.781).

To find the byte offset, while accounting for the bug in old Vim versions, use:

let offset = line2byte(line('.')) + col('.') - 1
if version < 781 && &l:binary == 1 && &l:eol == 0
    " Vim prior 7.4.781 had a bug where the line count is off by 1 or 2.
    " See https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/vim_dev/zX45zm-cnc0/-BWjjh5tlX8J
    let offset += 1
    let offset += line('.') == 1

This bug also affects the %o specifier in e.g. rulerformat.

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