I am not seeing the correct behavior when I use the rightbelow command. If I run :vertical term then a terminal opens in a vertical split (terminal on the left, existing pane on the right), but the new window is on the left. If I run :rightbelow term then a terminal opens on the bottom of the screen (a horizontal split), not a vertical split as expected. What am I doing wrong?

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"Rightbelow" (or "belowright") here means "right or below whichever is applicable".

So in your case you have to type all three words vert rightb term (or below vertical term - the order doesn't really matter).

Also, you can do set splitright and/or set splitbelow to change vim's default behaviour for all commands.

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