Problem: I have .glabels generated files, which are gzipped xml. When I rename file to have suffix .xml.gz, then VIM properly recognizes file and it's editable, human readable xml. After edit I have to rename back to original name.

What I try to open e.g. x.glabels file without renaming, what happens is that I see binary data. It does not ungzipped it.

How to force Vim from command like to treat given file like .gz ?

If possible please make answer more general, to address general problem : how to make Vim , treat file .extension1 as file .another_extension ?

Use case: http://glabels.org/ uses gzipped xml, so instead of .glabels extension, they could use .xml.gz.

When I rename file by adding .txt.gz or .xml.gz extension, VIM properly picks it up. However with .glabels extension it treats files like binary.

Question : How to force VIM from commandline to open given file (e.g. "x.glabels") like another type (e.g. "x.xml.gz") ?

No Answers: I know I can make symlink or temporarily rename file. I wonder about VIM flags.

Bonus Addition to answer: You are welcome to include in your answer nice way of configuring VIM to treat e.g. .glabels as .xml.gz, but this won't be accepted as full answer, as I look for onliner that I can use on any machine I will have to deal with. Still, information about config might be helpful for other readers (or my main machines;) ).

  • Are you referring to how Vim parses the file contents? What flags vim set? filetype? Please refine what you mean by "open as another file type" – Wolfie Oct 12 '16 at 16:14
  • @Wolfie I've provided "Problem" paragraph, that I hope clarifies use-case. Question lost not on being concise, but I hope use case is much more clear. If possible, I will be thankful for suggestions of making it more concise. – Grzegorz Wierzowiecki Oct 12 '16 at 16:21
  • 1
    vim -c set filetype=xml.gz [filename] when starting vim? – Wolfie Oct 12 '16 at 16:30
  • :h zip-extension – Christian Brabandt Oct 12 '16 at 17:13
  • If you want both a "one liner" that works on multiple machines, and a generic answer that treats A file as a B file (where A and B can be any types! no less), sorry, your request is too "tight" (you want something fast and short for something generic). Otherwise, the above answers and reading :h new-filetype-scripts would be enough :P – VanLaser Oct 12 '16 at 20:46

There are two answers to your question:


In order to open a file, overriding the default filetype detection, you can just specify a :setf[iletype] command as part of :edit. For example:

:edit +setf\ java strange.cpp

The default filetype detection does not change an existing filetype, that's how this works. Of course, you can also do this retroactively via :setl filetype=...

Extending the gzip plugin

As a binary format, Vim cannot directly edit [GZIP] archives. The built-in :help gzip plugin hooks into the filetype detection in order to transparently handle archives. This is done via :autocmds. If you want to support other file extensions, the default ones (cp. :autocmd gzip) need to be extended with the following:

autocmd! BufReadPre *.glabels setlocal binary
autocmd! BufRead *.glabels call gzip#read("gzip -S.glabels -dn")

Note the -S.glabels addition; without this, gzip wouldn't know what to do with the file.

  • The oneliner, of course, being echo -e "autocmd! BufReadPre *.glabels setlocal binary\nautocmd! BufRead *.glabels call gzip#read(\"gzip -S.glabels -dn)\" >> .temp & vim -S .temp & rm .temp, since he asked for a oneliner. Portable! – Wolfie Oct 13 '16 at 11:48

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