I must be turning a corner because I keep thinking of moving my text drafts off my Windows machine and onto my Linux box to get the convenience of editing them in Vim instead of Notepad++.

One thing I am going to miss though is Notepad++'s buffer window on the left that shows all my files. I just click on a file to open it in the view. Sublime Text has a similar ability, I believe, although I do not use Sublime.

Is there a way to get a pane like this that would show all the buffers, for example, in Vim and have a number or something so you could quickly activate whichever one you want? In Notepad++ I usually have about 50 to 60 different text files loaded at any given time.

In Notepad++ this functionality is called "Document List Panel" (Settings / General / Document List Panel show), shown on the left below:

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    I think the bufexplorer plugin can do this, but I never really tried it myself. Also see this list for some other options. Aug 13, 2016 at 13:21
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    @Carpetsmoker I am actually aware of that list and have investigated some of those plugins.The problem is that the list is unbelievably long, there are like 25 different buffer-related plugins. Also, using a plugin rather than native functionality always introduces complexity. Therefore, I was hoping for the voice of experience to help me figure out the simplest option. Aug 13, 2016 at 20:16

2 Answers 2

  1. You can use GVim on Windows so Vim is not really a valid reason for switching to Linux.

  2. You can display a list of buffers with :ls.

  3. For the last time: Read The Fantastic Manual.

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    :ls does not open a permanent pane, it just lists the buffers temporarily Aug 12, 2016 at 19:25
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    You don't need it to be permanent, that's completely superfluous.
    – romainl
    Aug 12, 2016 at 19:29
  • The problem with ls is that it lists all buffers. In case one has the following buffers opened: 1. terminal buffer, 2. NERDTree buffer, 3...100. Some regular file opened. Is there a way to list buffers corresponding to regular files only? Precisely I want to switch over file buffers and bind it to Tab to display it in a particular active viewport. This would be similar to what most IDEs have with their CTRL+Tab binding to go to the next tab pane.
    – St.Antario
    Dec 1, 2019 at 6:19
  • @romainl What works for you doesn't work for everyone. That's why (good) software and programming languages and editors are so configurable. I think a persistent buffer list would be pretty useful. Anyone who uses Vim with tabs probably feels a similar way. Jan 5, 2023 at 16:20

I would also add that in gVim you can get a very close approximation to this feature. If you click on the buffers menu item and then click the "tear off" (--✂-----) button. It opens up a little window that shows you all your buffers and does pretty much what you want. You can also do this with :tearoff Buffers.

I.E. Buffer window

  • I have been a little reluctant to get involved with gVim, both because I like to use the keyboard and I often use terminal sessions, so I would have to learn X11 forwarding, which I suspect is laggy and complicated. So, I am kind of hoping for a text-based solution. Aug 12, 2016 at 19:30
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    @TylerDurden I don't know about X11 forwarding, but just because you use gVim doesn't mean you have to use the mouse. :P gVim is my main use of vim and I hardly ever use the mouse on it. You can even turn the mouse features off if you really wanted to.
    – Tumbler41
    Aug 12, 2016 at 19:34
  • I use gvim (7.4.461) e.g. on Linux. I don't find the "tear off" button. How do I get this to work on Linux? @romainl: :ls is too slow to be an alternative. Aug 12, 2016 at 20:30
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    You can also try :tearoff Buffers
    – Tumbler41
    Aug 12, 2016 at 20:39
  • It looks like the :tearoff command is available on Windows only. You can still "tear off" menus by using the interface, but not with the command it seems... Aug 12, 2016 at 21:57

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