Often when coding I have this window layout - which is mapped to the flow of the program I am editing.


|            |              |
|            |      B       |
|            |              |
|            |              |
|  A         +--------------+
|            |              |
|            |              |
|            |       C      |
|            |              |

Now I want to open B in a new tab to work on it, but I want to leave the layout of tab1 intact.
Here is my desired outcome.

        tab1                         tab2
+------------+--------------+ +---------------------------+ 
|            |              | |                           | 
|            |      B       | |                           | 
|            |              | |                           | 
|            |              | |            B              | 
|  A         +--------------+ |                           | 
|            |              | |                           | 
|            |              | |                           | 
|            |       C      | |                           | 
|            |              | |                           | 
+------------+--------------+ +---------------------------+ 

What I have tried using vim

  • From inside B, open it in a new tab with <C-w>T.
    The problem is that destroys the B window in tab1.
  • tabe <full path to filename> - this works, but I am trying to find a "shortcut"

What I have tried using ctrlp

  • <C-p>, type in few characters of filename, <C-t>

Unfortunately ctrlp excludes the current buffer from its results, I know I can move to another window, buy I always forget this when I am coding, so I just assume ctrlp cant find the file and resort to some other way to open the file.
Is there a shortcut to open a file in a new tab, leaving the current one intact or to enable ctrlp to include the current buffer in its results?

3 Answers 3


:tab split will create a new tab displaying the current buffer, since :tab modifies any command that would normally create a split to instead create a tab page.

If you want to override <C-w>T to do that instead of its default behavior, you can remap it.

nnoremap <silent> <C-w>T :tab split<CR>

You may be wondering why I used :tab split instead of :tabedit %. According to the documentation, :tabedit {file} is just like creating a new tab and then running :edit {file}.

Therefore, it would be a bad idea to use since :edit {file} on a modified buffer would try to reload the buffer. :tab split better fits the behavior you're describing of just opening a new view of the existing buffer.

All that being said, the implementation of :tabedit {file} apparently doesn't act just like :edit {file} since it doesn't actually reload the buffer.

  • Ah very cool, I just tested now, yes so - if you wanted to open the current buffer in a new tab using :tabe %, but the buffer had unsaved changes - vim blocks the action and throws E:37 no write change - add ! to override Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 1:13

After some research I found a solution.
If you are focused on the buffer/window:

:tabe %

This opens the current buffer in new tab and leaves the current window intact.
why does it leave the old buffer intact when <C-w>T destroys it? I guess its because tabe generally creates a new tab, whereas <C-w>T seems to create a new tab and move the current window and buffer to it.


Another way, just for the fun of it…

  • create a new tab page, containing a new window, containing a new empty buffer.
  • then switch to the "alternate file".

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