Swap file ".file.swp" already exists!
[O]pen Read-Only, (E)dit anyway, (R)ecover, (Q)uit, (A)bort:

I usually see this message when I accidentally :edit the wrong file, i.e., one which I'm already editing in another terminal. My preferred solution in this case would be to tell Vim: oops, that was a mistake, please do nothing.

Both [Q]uit and [A]bort work, but they also add the file to the buffer list. I usually have a number of buffers open and page through them with the F3 and F4 keys, which I have mapped to :up plus :bp and :bn, respectively. This means I have to manually :bd the accidentally added file.

This happens often enough that it's becoming annoying, and for some reason I don't seem to be learning from repeating this particular mistake. Is there a way to avoid adding the file to the buffer list? If not, what would be a good way to automate "delete the last opened buffer"?


  • Good question as I recently realised this annoys me a lot... Any update on the solution to this issue, apart from the accepted answer?
    – Gordon Bai
    Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 15:36

1 Answer 1


I agree with you, and this seems like it could be improved, because one of those you would think would not create the buffer, and I just verified that I see the same behavior you describe, but if I were in your shoes what I would do to guarantee the buffer is immediately destroyed and which comes close to automatic is [O]pen Read-Only followed immediately by a :bw instead of :bd. That's 3 additional keystrokes.

One minor note, your question assumes you have a running session with other buffers that you want to keep, and this :bw command will not quit that session in any context.

(I would note that the frequency of the "Swap file exists" message in general is a pet peeve of mine with GVim, even though I really adore GVim and Vim and even though I am aware of workarounds via remote_foreground, single sessions, and such. But I believe GVim should bring me to the editor that is already open, assuming it's another GVim instance. Bringing to front an existing GUI window already open on a certain file is a feature of GUI editors since "the time immemorial.")

  • That seems like a very good workaround, thank you. The only nuisance that remains is that this will also close split windows when that buffer is wiped, but I can live with that.
    – Zilk
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 14:11

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