When setting spelllang for the first time, I was prompted to auto-download the appropriate spell file. Somehow I aborted the process due to unclear instructions, when it asked me, into which directory it should go.

Now when I :set spelllang it just says Warning: Cannot find word list… but does not offer to download it.

How can I restart the process?

2 Answers 2


The help states this:

The plugin has a default place where to look for spell files, on the Vim ftp
server.  If you want to use another location or another protocol, set the
g:spellfile_URL variable to the directory that holds the spell files.  The
netrw plugin is used for getting the file, look there for the specific
syntax of the URL.  Example: 
    let g:spellfile_URL = 'http://ftp.vim.org/vim/runtime/spell'
You may need to escape special characters.

The plugin will only ask about downloading a language once.  If you want to
try again anyway restart Vim, or set g:spellfile_URL to another value (e.g.,
prepend a space).

Please, note that the default choice at each interaction is negative.

For instance, the following happens if you enter :set spelllang=fr and the French language is not yet installed).

Cannot find spell file for "fr" in utf-8
Do you want me to try downloading it?
(Y)es, [N]o:

Hit Y to download the spell language

Downloading fr.utf-8.spl...
:!curl 'http://ftp.vim.org/pub/vim/runtime/spell/fr.utf-8.spl' -o '/tmp/vu98ZTF/2.spl'
  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
                                 Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
"/tmp/vu98ZTF/2.spl" [noeol] 1122L, 571626C
In which directory do you want to write the file:
1. /home/youruser/.vim/spell
[C]ancel, (1):

Hit 1 (hitting Enter choses the default Cancel action)

This will improve making suggestions for spelling mistakes,
but it uses quite a bit of memory.
[N]o, (Y)es:

Hit Y (or N/Enter, it's your choice)

Downloading fr.utf-8.sug...
:!curl 'http://ftp.vim.org/pub/vim/runtime/spell/fr.utf-8.sug' -o '/tmp/vu9
  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
                                 Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
  0     0    0     0    0     0      0      0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:--    26 2269k   26  596k    0     0   651k      0  0:00:03 --:--:--  0:00:03  6 64 2269k   64 1469k    0     0   767k      0  0:00:02  0:00:01  0:00:01  7"~/.vim/spell/fr.utf-8.sug" [New] 15706L, 2324315C written
Press ENTER or type command to continue
  • The documentation did not help me, because when I follow the instructions for the case of not using a plugin, namely adding the autocommand autocmd SpellFileMissing * call Download_spell_file(expand('<amatch>')) and then do :set spell it comes up with an error, not knowing the function Download_spell_file. Am I the only one? Feb 5, 2017 at 13:21
  • @Zelphir I don't understand. Why would you not have the autocommand active? Feb 5, 2017 at 15:04
  • @ChristianBrabandt, maybe doing more than copying the documentation would make this a better answer.
    – Enlico
    May 12, 2019 at 6:47
  • @EnricoMariaDeAngelis or maybe not, because the documentation already clearly answers the question. May 13, 2019 at 5:59
  • @ChristianBrabandt, then I suppose I'm here due to some malfunctioning neuron of mines.
    – Enlico
    May 13, 2019 at 6:02

I understand the question differently: when answering "No" to the "Do you want me to try downloading it [the spell file]?" question, the option to download does not present itself again.

I got around it by deleting ~/.viminfo—surely this isn't the best way, but it does answer the question (to my interpretation, at least).


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