Many terminal emulators allow you to define colors:

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Rather than trying to approximate (and duplicate!) the same theme in a Vim colorscheme, is there a way to tell terminal Vim to output ANSI escape codes for the colors I've already defined ("red", "green", "yellow", "magenta", etc)?

If not, why not?

1 Answer 1


Assuming your terminal emulator doesn't claim to support 256 colors ($ echo $TERM should output a string that doesn't contain 256color) and you didn't lie to Vim about that (:echo &t_Co should output 8 or 16), Vim should honor the "ANSI" colors you defined in your terminal emulator.

The built-in colorschemes all use those "ANSI" colors — either by name or by number — by default but many third party colorschemes are specifically designed for the GUI and/or for 256 colors terminal emulators. Those colorschemes generally don't work at all (or very poorly) in 8/16 colors setups.

So you will need to experiment with built-in and third party colorschemes to find the "perfect" combination.

You can look for the clues below to tell if a colorscheme will work in your setup:

ctermfg=red    use of names means it works in 8/16 color terminals
ctermfg=7      use of numbers below 16 means it works in 8/16 color terminals
ctermfg=123    use of numbers between 16 and 255 means it works in 256 color terminals
guifg=...      means it works in GUI Vim

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