I'm trying to create a key mapping that makes switching buffers quicker and easier - something like:

set wildmenu
nnoremap <Tab> :buffer<space><Tab>

The problem is, this mapping leaves me at the end of a command line that looks like:

:buffer ^I

when I want it to start tabbing through the list of buffers.

I've searched the help files and Google, and tried many different combinations of :execute and :normal, all to no avail. Is there a way to do what I'm asking, or am I stuck with the following, two-keypress solution?

set wildmenu
nnoremap <Tab> :buffer<space>

Then, pressing <Tab><Tab> will do what I want.

2 Answers 2


You need to set wildcharm=<Tab> and the following mapping will do what you want:

nnoremap <Tab> :buffer <Tab>

See :h 'wildcharm' and :h 'wildchar':

  • wildchar defines the key which triggers the wildmenu
  • wildcharm is like wildchar but it works in macros and mappings.

You need the wildcharm option:

set wildcharm=<C-z>
nnoremap <key> :buffer<Space><C-z>

See :help 'wildcharm.

  • Seems like we get the same answer at some seconds of difference :-) But I have a question: Why do you suggest to use <C-z> as wildcharm and not <Tab> as OP wanted? Is it just a personal preference or is there another reason?
    – statox
    Oct 8, 2015 at 19:22
  • 2
    1. That's the value suggested in the doc. 2. wildcharm is only used in mappings anyway so it makes sense to use a special value to prevent confusion.
    – romainl
    Oct 8, 2015 at 19:33
  • My concern was more about incompatibility with other modes or this kind of stuff but your points make sense indeed.
    – statox
    Oct 8, 2015 at 19:37
  • Thanks, @romainl. statox beat you by only a minute. I went with the <Tab> as my wildcharm character
    – Phil R
    Oct 8, 2015 at 19:55

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