3 Effective Ways to Split Windows in Vim

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Last updated: June 25, 2023

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To split windows in Vim, you can try these methods:

  1. Vertical Splits: Use :vsplit command to view and compare files side by side.
  2. Horizontal Splits: Create multiple sections for simultaneous code work using :split.
  3. Combining Vertical and Horizontal Splits: Customize your workspace by combining both types of splits for a tailored layout.

Optimize your Vim experience by mastering split window management. Resize windows dynamically, organize them strategically, maintain focus with efficient navigation shortcuts, and avoid common errors like content overwriting and unbalanced ratios. Maximize your productivity and create a seamless coding environment in Vim.

Continue reading the guide below to explore different methods to split windows in Vim. Also, learn common errors, tips for better window management, and how to resize split windows.

When it comes to text editing and coding, Vim stands out as a powerful and versatile editor. One of its key features, window splitting, allows you to divide your workspace into multiple independent windows, each displaying different files or sections of code. Window splitting in Vim revolutionizes your workflow and boosts productivity. By leveraging this functionality, you can effortlessly navigate between files, compare code side by side, and multitask efficiently. So, let’s discuss methods of Vim window splitting, common errors that can occur, tips for effective window management, and even explore the art of resizing split windows in vim for optimal viewing. 

How to Split Windows in Vim

To split windows in Vim and boost coding efficiency, use vertical and horizontal splits. Vertical splits enable side-by-side file comparison, while horizontal splits facilitate simultaneous editing of code sections. Combine these split types for a tailored workspace.

1. Vertical Splits

Vertical splits are ideal for viewing and comparing different files side by side. Vertical splits provide the benefit of easily comparing code or referring to multiple files simultaneously, enhancing your productivity and workflow efficiency. To create a vertical split:

  1. Open your Vim editor.
opening vim editor
  1. Press Ctrl+W v to split the Vim window vertically.
pressing keys to split window vertically
  1. Navigate between vertical splits by pressing Ctrl+W followed by h or l.
  2. The output will be:
vertical split view in vim

2. Horizontal Splits:

Horizontal splits allow you to work on multiple sections of code simultaneously. Horizontal splits give you a broader view of code sections and supporting tasks such as simultaneous editing or comparing different file parts. To create a horizontal split:

  1. Enter the Vim editor and press Ctrl+W s to split the Vim window horizontally.
pressing keys to split window horizontally
  1. Move between horizontal splits effortlessly by pressing Ctrl+W followed by j or k.
  2. The horizontal split will look like this:
horizontal split view in vim

3. Combining Vertical and Horizontal Splits:

Vim offers the flexibility to combine vertical and horizontal splits, creating complex window layouts tailored to your needs. This feature empowers you to arrange your workspace according to the specific requirements of your coding project, providing a highly customizable and efficient environment. Follow these steps:

  1. Enter the Vim editor and create two vertical splits using the aforementioned methods.
created two vertical splits
  1. Within each vertical split, create multiple horizontal splits.
combined vertical or horizontal split windows

How to Resize and Adjust Split Windows in Vim

In the world of Vim, efficiently managing split windows is essential for maximizing your productivity and creating a comfortable coding environment. This article explores two key techniques to resize and adjust split windows, allowing you to optimize your screen space and enhance your overall workflow.

  1. Dynamic Resizing: Easily adjust the size of the current split window vertically and horizontally by pressing Ctrl+W followed by + to increase or - to decrease its size. This dynamic resizing capability enables you to adapt the split window dimensions on the fly, ensuring an optimal view of your code and content.
resizing the split windows of vim
  1. Equalizing Split Sizes: Achieve a harmonious layout by pressing Ctrl+W followed by = to equalize the sizes of all split windows. This ensures a balanced distribution of screen space among multiple splits, promoting clarity and ease of navigation within your workspace.
equally resizing split windows in vim

3 Tips for Effective Window Management

Maximize your productivity with expert tips for efficient window management in Vim. Implementing these tips will help you organize your windows efficiently, maintain focus on critical tasks, and optimize your workspace for a smoother Vim experience. Here are three tips:

  • 📊 Organize Your Windows: Divide your workspace logically by placing related files or code sections in specific windows. For example, you can dedicate one window for the main file you’re working on and use others for references or documentation. This strategic organization helps you quickly locate and switch between windows, streamlining your coding process.
  • Maintain Focus: Vim offers powerful commands to effortlessly shift focus between split windows. Utilize shortcuts like Ctrl+W w to cycle through windows in a loop, or Ctrl+W H, Ctrl+W J, Ctrl+W K, and Ctrl+W L to move to adjacent windows in different directions. These commands enable swift navigation and allow you to stay focused on the task at hand.
  • 🖥 Optimize Screen Space: Make the most of your screen real estate by dynamically resizing split windows. Use commands like Ctrl+W + and Ctrl+W - to adjust the height of the current window, or Ctrl+W > and Ctrl+W < to modify its width. Experiment with different sizes and find the optimal arrangement that suits your workflow, reducing unnecessary scrolling or window switching.

3 Common Errors for Splitting Windows in Vim

When working with window splits in Vim, it’s essential to be aware of potential errors that may arise. By being mindful of these common errors, you can avoid potential issues when splitting windows in Vim, allowing for a more seamless and efficient coding experience. Here are three common errors to watch out for:

  • Accidental Overwriting of Content error: One common error is accidentally overwriting content in one split while editing in another. This can occur when you forget to switch focus between splits before making changes. Always double-check that you’re editing in the intended split by navigating to it using the appropriate commands or shortcuts.
  • 🔄 Unintentional Window Resizing error: Unintentionally resizing windows can disrupt your layout and cause frustration. Be cautious when interacting with window dividers, and avoid accidentally resizing splits. Remember to use precise commands or shortcuts for resizing, such as Ctrl+W +, Ctrl+W -, Ctrl+W >, or Ctrl+W <, instead of dragging the window dividers with the mouse.
  • 🌐 Unbalanced Window Ratios error: Unevenly sized window splits can lead to a cluttered workspace and hinder productivity. Ensure that you maintain balanced ratios between splits for a visually pleasing and functional layout. Use commands like Ctrl+W = to automatically equalize split sizes or manually adjust them to achieve a comfortable and organized workspace.

To Sum Up

In this article, I have explored the different methods to split windows in Vim, including how to resize and adjust split windows. I have also discussed common errors to watch out for and tips to optimize your window management techniques, so you can enhance your productivity and streamline your coding workflow.

To further expand your Vim skills and explore related topics, consider exploring the following articles and resources, Vim Macros, Customizing Vim, and Mastering Vim Navigation. Remember, continuous practice and experimentation with Vim’s window-splitting features will gradually make you a proficient Vim user, unlocking endless possibilities for efficient code editing and text manipulation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I rearrange the order of splits in Vim?

Vim provides a simple way to rearrange the order of splits. By using the Ctrl+W R command, you can rotate the splits in a clockwise direction. This action shifts the focus to the next split and brings it to the window’s top-left corner. For example, if you have three splits arranged vertically, pressing Ctrl+W R will change their order to a clockwise rotation, with the top split moving to the bottom and the bottom split moving to the middle position. This feature allows you to easily adjust the arrangement of splits according to your preferences or workflow needs.

Can I save and restore specific window layouts in Vim?

Yes, Vim can save and restore specific window layouts using the :mksession command. This command saves the current session, including window splits, buffer contents, open files, and various settings, into a session file. To restore the saved session, use the :source command followed by the path to the session file. Vim will then recreate the exact window layout and restore all the saved settings, allowing you to resume your work exactly where you left off. This feature is particularly useful when you want to preserve complex window arrangements or continue your work at a later time.

Can I close all splits in Vim and return to a single window view?

Yes, Vim provides a convenient way to close all splits and return to a single-window view. By using the :only command or pressing Ctrl+W o, you can close all splits except the currently focused one. This action maximizes the current split, allowing it to occupy the entire window. Whether you have multiple splits arranged horizontally or vertically, executing :only or Ctrl+W o ensures that only the active split remains visible, providing a clutter-free workspace. This feature is beneficial when you want to focus temporarily on a single file or when you prefer a single window view for specific tasks or scenarios.



Ojash is a skilled Linux expert and tech writer with over a decade of experience. He has extensive knowledge of Linux's file system, command-line interface, and software installations. Ojash is also an expert in shell scripting and automation, with experience in Bash, Python, and Perl. He has published numerous articles on Linux in various online publications, making him a valuable resource for both seasoned Linux users and beginners. Ojash is also an active member of the Linux community and participates in Linux forums.



Akshat is a software engineer, product designer and the co-founder of Scrutify. He's an experienced Linux professional and the senior editor of this blog. He is also an open-source contributor to many projects on Github and has written several technical guides on Linux. Apart from that, he’s also actively sharing his ideas and tutorials on Medium and Attirer. As the editor of this blog, Akshat brings his wealth of knowledge and experience to provide readers with valuable insights and advice on a wide range of Linux-related topics.

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