I know about % and #, which reference the filenames of the current and previous buffers in command-line mode. Is there any way to similarly reference other buffers?

For example, let's say that :ls gives me:

1 #h   foo.txt
2  h   bar.txt
3 %a   baz.txt

...and I want to use a command to the effect of:

:!pandoc foo.txt bar.txt baz.txt -o out.pdf

Only with a bit less typing. I would imagine something along the lines of

:!pandoc b1 b2 b3 -o out.pdf

So. Is there anything like this? Is there an addon somewhere, or some handy bit of vimscript I could use?

1 Answer 1


You can do:

:!pandoc #1 #2 #3 -o out.pdf

This is mentioned briefly in the help at :h :_#n.

If you need the full path to the file (say, because some of the files are in different directories), you can append :p like so:

:!pandoc #1:p #2:p #3:p -o out.pdf
  • Nice! I wasn't sure how to find this in the help documents (:h # brings up info about the normal-mode object). I might sometimes need the complete filepath, which according to the help would be :!pandoc #1:p #2:p #3:p -o out.pdf.
    – evilsoup
    Oct 24, 2015 at 22:43
  • 3
    @evilsoup, a good trick to know is Ctrl-D when typing a help command. It lists the possible completions. Try typing :h # and then pressing Ctrl-D. Also note that unlike shell autocompletion, this lists any help topic containing the typed substring—it doesn't have to be at the start of the help topic name.
    – Wildcard
    Oct 25, 2015 at 13:39
  • @Wildcard thanks for the tip, that'll come in handy I think.
    – evilsoup
    Oct 25, 2015 at 15:22
  • You can also reference current buffer filename with % and alternate file with #. E.g. !kdiff3 % # will run kdiff3 command with the filenames of current buffer and the alternate one.
    – Ruslan
    Jun 24, 2019 at 10:50

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