When I try and trigger PHPUnit tests within MacVim, I can't see coloured outputs in my command line:

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  • Vim or GVim/MacVim?
    – romainl
    May 7, 2016 at 20:32
  • @romainl I'm using MacVim May 7, 2016 at 20:59
  • 2
    Then you can't get colored output. Try :!phpunit --colors=auto to disable color when the terminal doesn't support it. Not "pretty" but a lot cleaner.
    – romainl
    May 7, 2016 at 21:30
  • @romainl I used :!phpunit --colors=never. Is this a MacVim thing? May 8, 2016 at 8:44
  • 1
    Both MacVim and GVim come with a "dumb" terminal emulator that doesn't understand color. If you do :!command in Vim in a real terminal emulator, Vim is suspended and command is executed in the host shell which (hopefully) understands color escape sequences.
    – romainl
    May 8, 2016 at 9:29

2 Answers 2


The GUI version of Vim (MacVim on Mac OS X, GVim everywhere else) comes with a "dumb" terminal emulator that doesn't understand color at all.

If you want to run command-line programs without the ugly escape codes you'll need to either configure those programs to not use color when not possible or call them with dedicated options.

In your case:

:!vendor/bin/phpunit --colors=never ...

Since we are at it:


The default value has been auto for a while but if you use an old release:

$ git config --global color.ui auto


This is a bit extreme but npm expects a boolean, here:

$ npm config set color=false

I was facing same problem with gvim on Linux.

Put following in your ~/.gvimrc

set guioptions+=!

Explanation from :help guioptions:

'!' External commands are executed in a terminal window. Without this flag the MS-Windows GUI will open a console window to execute the command. The Unix GUI will simulate a dumb terminal to list the command output. The terminal window will be positioned at the bottom, and grow upwards as needed.

  • This fixed MacVim for me, thanks! Jul 5, 2020 at 2:13

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