Is there any way to make the special symbol % work with path names on the command line? For instance, I'd like to do:

:diffsplit Path\to\other\directory\%

So that I can do a @: to quickly compare files of the same name. However, this just opens up a new buffer called %.

Of course I could do:

:exe 'diffsplit Path\to\other\directory\'.expand('%')

But this is cumbersome as I can't tab complete directories when typing the command.

Is there any other better way to do this?

Here's a related question, but it doesn't address my situation exactly.

Edit: Just to clarify, I would like to be able to re-use the command exactly for different files. So a solution that simply autofills the current file in the command line will not work. The same command needs to work for different file names.

  • You can use a cmap for % such that it expands to filename, that might help :D
    – SibiCoder
    Jun 29, 2016 at 17:14
  • This has the same problem that Kent's solution has. As soon as you press %, it will fill to the filename, but then when I want to reuse that line, the old filename will still be present. I would like the % to dynamically insert the current filename, whatever that happens to be at the time without having to retype it.
    – Tumbler41
    Jun 29, 2016 at 18:01
  • 2
    :diffsplit Path/to/other/directory/%:t Jun 29, 2016 at 18:21
  • Wow, I thought I tried that, but you're right that works! Thanks! If you want to put it in an answer I'll accept it.
    – Tumbler41
    Jun 29, 2016 at 18:36

3 Answers 3


Special characters (see :h cmdline-special) and filename modifiers (see :h filename-modifiers) are expanded on the command line, so:

:diffsplit Path/to/other/directory/%:t

So it turns out that it's a stupid Windows problem. The remedy to this is to simply use forward slashes in the path name. i.e. :diffsplit Path/to/other/directory/% works just fine.

I've remedied this on my system by using the option set shellslash which defaults to using forward slashes even on Windows.

  • Yeah, the backslash is used both to escape the special meaning of %, and is the default path separator on Windows. Vim can't tell which you had in mind. Sep 9, 2016 at 7:09
  • See, I thought of that. So I figured that I could just do a directory\\% but that still didn't work. IDK, but I guess it doesn't matter since forward slashes solve the problem.
    – Tumbler41
    Sep 9, 2016 at 14:29

I don't know if this is ok for you:

:diffsplit Path/to/somewhere/<c-r>%

Just one more keystroke to your original, the <C-r>, in order to fill the % register value.

  • This still doesn't allow for using @: for future files as it "hard codes" the current file name.
    – Tumbler41
    Jun 29, 2016 at 16:24
  • then wrap a custom command like :Mydiff /path/to/there/ so the path could be tab completed. just pass this to your command/function with exec
    – Kent
    Jun 29, 2016 at 16:26

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