I often use :Ex or :Sex to explore the filesystem from an opened file directory, or just invoke vim passing a directory to start exploring the filesystem and then opening a file.

In any case, while navigating the directory tree, using the :edit {file} command to open new files always takes paths relative to the current directory from which vim was executed; so:

~# vim .
-> navigate to Development/
-> open a file
:e <tab> will complete path from home dir


~# vim Development/
-> open a file
:e <tab> will complete paths from Development/

is it possible (automagically or with a command) to change vim current working directory to the current selected directory while navigating the filesystem?


It is possible by setting the netrw configuration variable g:netrw_keepdir to 0 (default is 1).
To make it permanent, add in the .vimrc file this line:

let g:netrw_keepdir=0

Yes, vim has a :cd command, which either prints the current directory or changes the current directory. In the help is this - note the last lines:

:cd[!] {path}           Change the current directory to {path}.
                        If {path} is relative, it is searched for in the
                        directories listed in |'cdpath'|.
                        Does not change the meaning of an already opened file,
                        because its full path name is remembered.  Files from
                        the |arglist| may change though!
                        On MS-DOS this also changes the active drive.
                        To change to the directory of the current file: >
                                :cd %:h

As noted at the top of the help for :cd, this affects vim's working directory, not just what :Ex returns to or internal commands use, so external commands will also use the new location.

  • Is there a "directory-changed"-like event, while navigatin, which I could bind an autocommand to? Also, does it only work after opening a file? – guido Feb 9 '15 at 14:42
  • @guido Not that I know of, but the other two answers seem like a possibility for automatic changing – Izkata Feb 9 '15 at 16:35

I set the following two options to ensure that Vim's current working directory is always the same as the current buffer's.

set autochdir                   " Changes the cwd to the directory of the current
                                " buffer whenever you switch buffers.
set browsedir=current           " Make the file browser always open the current
                                " directory.
  • The second command does it; the first will change directory also when opening a file with vim path/to/file which I don't want. – guido Feb 12 '15 at 22:21
  • @guido I don't understand how setting only the browsedir setting affects the behaviour you're describing. That setting affects what directory the GUI file browser opens, not what directory is used for command-line completion. – Rich Feb 24 '15 at 10:13
  • @Rich you perfectly right; I forgot to delete let g:netrw_keepdir=0 from my vimrc before testing this! – guido Feb 24 '15 at 11:55

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