While going through the vimtutor, I was supposed to execute commands to access help. Executing :help worked, but once I executed :help w, :help user-manual the output became gibberish.

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The error code that was provided upon executing these commands was E434: Can't find tag pattern.

A previously posted proposed solution of installing vim-enhanced yielded no results.

  • 1
    Note the filename: usr_toc.txt.gz. For some reason, you are seeing a gzipped file instead of the expected text file. You should start your investigation with the packages you have installed.
    – romainl
    Jan 3 at 9:07
  • I recall having seen this once when I was on a system with only compressed help files. What happens if you run :helptags ALL and try again?
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Jan 3 at 14:03
  • See :help faq-4.6.
    – romainl
    Jan 3 at 15:38
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  • @D.BenKnoble I did not test running :help w without any modifications, and instead immediately ran :helptags ALL, as you mentioned. This seemed to work and it no longer outputs gibberish.
    – user49985
    Jan 3 at 22:30

1 Answer 1


The FAQ suggests one solution for working with compressed help files (using 'helpfile' and more).

I find that sometimes fixing the tags with :helptags ALL works just fine (so did the OP).

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