I don't normally set autochdir, but I'm trying it out and seeing what kind of small frustrations I encounter as a way of learning more about vim.

For the purposes of this question, my .vimrc is the following:

set laststatus=2
set autochdir

Suppose I'm working with the following project.

~/tmp/some-project $ tree
├── a
│   └── README.txt
└── b
    └── README.txt

If I run the following, then emacs will populate two buffers that display as README.txt<a> and README.txt<b>.

emacs `find . -type f`

If I run the following, then vim will create two buffers side by side.

vim -O `find . -type f`

One of the buffers will be called README.txt and the other will be called ~/tmp/some-project/b/README.txt.

When I change which buffer has focus, then the names will all shift because vim itself has chdired when autochdir is set.

The problem that I'm running into is this. If I only have one buffer visible, then that buffer will be called README.txt regardless of which directory I'm in and I can't tell which README.txt I'm looking at.

Is there a way to configure vim to show buffers with single-segment paths as README.txt<a> or something similar so I can more easily tell which file I'm editing when autochdir is enabled.

  • You can personalize your status line with :help 'statusline' and massage filenames with :help fnamemodify(). Also, autochdir is an abomination.
    – romainl
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 6:45
  • I prefer to have the Vim working directory to be set to the root of the project (~/tmp/some-project). There are plugins that do that for you automatically based on the content of the root folder (e.g. vim-rooter). Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 9:04
  • Funny to read such strong feelings on autochdir. I've had it enabled for ten years or so and I actually like it. Having it off tends to confuse me. When in doubt, ask :pwd. Just my two cents.
    – Friedrich
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 10:01

1 Answer 1


Some ideas:

  • Press Ctrl-G, or run :file
  • Configure your statusline

For the statusline, you can experiment with %f (in the default), %F, and %t. I’ve rolled my own such that I can switch been short statusline (%t) and long statusline (path + %t), where the trailing component is always highlighted.

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