I thought I’d write up a couple quick posts on vim commands that I have been using lately. This first post is on NERDTree.


Wow, this plugin is so amazing. It is a sideloaded file browser for vim.
screenshot of NERDTree

Installing and setting up NERDTree

If you have pathogen installed, then installing it is as simple as:

cd ~/.vim/bundles/
git clone git://github.com/scrooloose/nerdtree.git

Next, I added the following to my ~/.vimrc

map <leader>nt :execute 'NERDTreeToggle ' . getcwd()<CR>

My leader key is comma, so once the previous code is added to my .vimrc, I can type ,nt in normal mode, and NERDTree’s file browser pops open on the side and displays the current working directory. Type C-w h (Control-w h) to send focus to the file browser and hit <enter> over a directory to expand it, or press <enter> over a file name to open it in the main window.

Next to close the file browser type ,nt again and it disappears.

Use NERDTree to rename and create new files.

I was satisfied with the above commands for awhile, it was very convenient, but then I watched screencasts of people creating files eaily in Sublime and Textmate and lo I was unsatisfied. But then one day as I was in the file browser I happened upon the “m” or menu command and it was a godsend! Typing m while on a file will bring up a menu of options:

NERDTree Menu. Use j/k/enter and the shortcuts indicated
> (a)dd a childnode
  (m)ove the current node
  (d)elete the current node
  (c)opy the current node

Move (or rename) a file

  1. move cursor to a filename in the file browser
  2. type m to bring up the menu
  3. type m again to rename the file
  4. type in it’s new name, press <enter> and the file is renamed.

Create a new file

  1. move cursor to a filename in the file browser
  2. press m while on a directory.
  3. type a for add a child node
  4. type in the new file’s name and press <enter>
  5. arrow down to the new file name and select it to start editing it.

Delete a file

  1. move cursor to a filename in the file browser
  2. press m to bring up the menu.
  3. press d to delete the file.

Opening file

By default NERDTree opens a file you select in the current window (the last window you hopped to the file browser from.) If you’d like to open it in a new horizontally split window, press i when cursor is on the file. To open it in a new vertical spit, type s.

NERDTree help

As mentioned earlier, you can type ? while in the file browser to bring up a help window. Type ? again to toggle the help window’s display.