In this post, I will go through how to customize neovim. If you are new to Vim, I suggest you go through this post to get familiarize with Vim first.


Operating System Install command
MacOS brew install neovim
Debian based OS apt install neovim
Redhat based OS yum install neovim
Windows OS choco install neovim

Default Commands

Neovim is forked out of Vim; all key bindings of Vim should work. Refer Vim default key bindings


Neovim supports configuration using Lua. (You can still use init.vim).

Here I will be discussing how to configure using Lua.

The configuration file is located at $HOME/.config/nvim. Create init.lua in $HOME/.config/nvim

Set options using Vimscript

You can directly write vim script like below

local cmd = vim.cmd

-- General settings
cmd [[syntax on]]
cmd [[filetype plugin indent on]]
cmd [[let g:onedark_style = 'darker']]
cmd [[colorscheme gruvbox]]

Set options using Lua

Below is how you can set options in Lua.

local opt = vim.opt
local o = vim.o

opt.backup = false -- don't use backup files
opt.writebackup = false -- don't backup the file while editing
opt.swapfile = false -- don't create swap files for new buffers
opt.updatecount = 0 -- don't write swap files after some number of updates

opt.history = 1000 -- store the last 1000 commands entered
opt.textwidth = 120 -- after configured number of characters, wrap line

opt.backspace = {"indent", "eol,start"} -- make backspace behave in a sane manner
opt.clipboard = {"unnamed", "unnamedplus"} -- use the system clipboard
opt.mouse = "a" -- set mouse mode to all modes

-- searching
opt.ignorecase = true -- case insensitive searching
opt.smartcase = true -- case-sensitive if expresson contains a capital letter
opt.hlsearch = true -- highlight search results
opt.incsearch = true -- set incremental search, like modern browsers
opt.lazyredraw = false -- don't redraw while executing macros
opt.magic = true -- set magic on, for regular expressions

-- error bells
opt.errorbells = false
opt.visualbell = true
opt.timeoutlen = 500

-- Appearance
o.termguicolors = true
opt.number = true -- show line numbers
opt.wrap = false -- turn on line wrapping
opt.wrapmargin = 8 -- wrap lines when coming within n characters from side
opt.linebreak = true -- set soft wrapping
opt.showbreak = "↪"
opt.autoindent = true -- automatically set indent of new line
opt.ttyfast = true -- faster redrawing

opt.laststatus = 2 -- show the status line all the time
opt.scrolloff = 7 -- set 7 lines to the cursors - when moving vertical
opt.wildmenu = true -- enhanced command line completion
opt.hidden = true -- current buffer can be put into background
opt.showcmd = true -- show incomplete commands
opt.showmode = true -- don't show which mode disabled for PowerLine
opt.wildmode = {"list", "longest"} -- complete files like a shell = env.SHELL
opt.cmdheight = 1 -- command bar height
opt.title = true -- set terminal title
opt.showmatch = true -- show matching braces
opt.mat = 2 -- how many tenths of a second to blink
opt.updatetime = 300
opt.signcolumn = "yes"
opt.shortmess = "atToOFc" -- prompt message options

-- Tab control
opt.smarttab = true -- tab respects 'tabstop', 'shiftwidth', and 'softtabstop'
opt.tabstop = 4 -- the visible width of tabs
opt.softtabstop = 4 -- edit as if the tabs are 4 characters wide
opt.shiftwidth = 4 -- number of spaces to use for indent and unindent
opt.shiftround = true -- round indent to a multiple of 'shiftwidth'

-- code folding settings
cmd [[set foldmethod=expr]] -- use treesitter folding support
cmd [[set foldexpr=nvim_treesitter#foldexpr()]]
opt.foldlevelstart = 99
opt.foldnestmax = 10 -- deepest fold is 10 levels
opt.foldenable = false -- don't fold by default
opt.foldlevel = 1

-- toggle invisible characters
opt.list = false
opt.listchars = {
  tab = "→ ",
  eol = "↲",
  trail = "⋅",
  extends = "❯",
  precedes = "❮"

opt.autoread = true
opt.cursorline = true
opt.autowrite = true

Set global options using Lua

Below is how you can set global settings

local g = vim.g
g.mapleader = ","

Custom bindings in lua

You can set key bindings like below

local map = vim.api.nvim_set_keymap
map('n', '<Leader>w', ':write<CR>', {noremap = true})

You can use helper functions like below. Create ~/.config/nvim/lua/globals.lua and add below content

_GlobalCallbacks = _GlobalCallbacks or {}

_G.globals = {_store = _GlobalCallbacks}

function globals._create(f)
  table.insert(globals._store, f)
  return #globals._store

function globals._execute(id, args)

Create ~/.config/nvim/lua/utils.lua and add below content

local api = vim.api
local fn = vim.fn
local utils = {}

-- thanks to
-- for inspiration
local function make_keymap_fn(mode, o)
  -- copy the opts table as extends will mutate opts
  local parent_opts = vim.deepcopy(o)
  return function(combo, mapping, opts)
    assert(combo ~= mode, string.format("The combo should not be the same as the mode for %s", combo))
    local _opts = opts and vim.deepcopy(opts) or {}

    if type(mapping) == "function" then
      local fn_id = globals._create(mapping)
      mapping = string.format("<cmd>lua globals._execute(%s)<cr>", fn_id)

    if _opts.bufnr then
      local bufnr = _opts.bufnr
      _opts.bufnr = nil
      _opts = vim.tbl_extend("keep", _opts, parent_opts)
      api.nvim_buf_set_keymap(bufnr, mode, combo, mapping, _opts)
      api.nvim_set_keymap(mode, combo, mapping, vim.tbl_extend("keep", _opts, parent_opts))

local map_opts = {noremap = false, silent = true}
utils.nmap = make_keymap_fn("n", map_opts)
utils.xmap = make_keymap_fn("x", map_opts)
utils.imap = make_keymap_fn("i", map_opts)
utils.vmap = make_keymap_fn("v", map_opts)
utils.omap = make_keymap_fn("o", map_opts)
utils.tmap = make_keymap_fn("t", map_opts)
utils.smap = make_keymap_fn("s", map_opts)
utils.cmap = make_keymap_fn("c", map_opts)

local noremap_opts = {noremap = true, silent = true}
utils.nnoremap = make_keymap_fn("n", noremap_opts)
utils.xnoremap = make_keymap_fn("x", noremap_opts)
utils.vnoremap = make_keymap_fn("v", noremap_opts)
utils.inoremap = make_keymap_fn("i", noremap_opts)
utils.onoremap = make_keymap_fn("o", noremap_opts)
utils.tnoremap = make_keymap_fn("t", noremap_opts)
utils.cnoremap = make_keymap_fn("c", noremap_opts)

function utils.has_map(map, mode)
  mode = mode or "n"
  return fn.maparg(map, mode) ~= ""

function utils.has_module(name)
    return true
    return false

function utils.termcodes(str)
  return api.nvim_replace_termcodes(str, true, true, true)

return utils

Now in your ~/.config/nvim/init.lua you can do like below to do custom bindings.

local utils = require("utils")

local nmap = utils.nmap
local vmap = utils.vmap
local imap = utils.imap
local xmap = utils.xmap
local omap = utils.omap
local nnoremap = utils.nnoremap
local inoremap = utils.inoremap
local vnoremap = utils.vnoremap

-- CUSTOM key bindings
nmap("<leader>c", ":windo diffthis<cr>")
nmap("<leader>C", ":windo diffoff<cr>")
nmap("<leader>d", ":bd!<cr>")
nmap("<leader>e", ":enew<cr>")
nmap("<leader>h", ":nohl<cr>")
nmap("<leader>l", ":set list!<cr>")
nmap("<leader>q", ":q<cr>")
nmap("cr",":let @*=expand('%')<cr>")
-- Split settings
nmap("-", ":new<cr>")
nmap("|", ":vnew<cr>")
-- quick fix
nmap("<space>q", ":copen<cr>")
nmap("<space>Q", ":cclose<cr>")
-- Search selected text in visual mode
vnoremap("//", 'y/<C-R>"<cr>')

Plugin Manager

You can either use Vim Plug or Packer. I will show you on how to use packer plugin manager. Install packer plugin manager.

git clone --depth 1\

Create ~/.config/nvim/lua/plugins folder and create init.lua file. Have below content

local fn = vim.fn
local install_path = fn.stdpath('data')..'/site/pack/packer/start/packer.nvim'

if fn.empty(fn.glob(install_path)) > 0 then
  packer_bootstrap = fn.system({'git', 'clone', '--depth', '1', '', install_path})

return require('packer').startup(function(use)
  -- My plugins here
  -- use 'foo1/bar1.nvim'
  use 'wbthomason/packer.nvim'

  -- Automatically set up your configuration after cloning packer.nvim
  -- Put this at the end after all plugins
  if packer_bootstrap then

At line number 12, you will be adding the plugins you want to install. For example, you want to install a gruvbox theme, then you will add use 'morhetz/gruvbox' Then you can do :PackerCompile, :PackerInstall to install the plugin.

Interesting Plugins

Most plugins available in Vim should work with Neovim, but there are some plugins in Neovim, which is done in Lua, does not support Vim. I discussed most vim plugins in Steps to customize Vim. Below are some interesting plugins.

Language Server Protocol

Neovim out of the box supports LSP (Language Server Protocol) refer nvim-lspconfig

Below are some plugins that help in code completion & LSP.

  -- code completion - LSP
  use 'neovim/nvim-lspconfig'
  use 'williamboman/nvim-lsp-installer'
  use 'onsails/lspkind-nvim'
  use 'hrsh7th/cmp-nvim-lsp'
  use 'hrsh7th/cmp-buffer'
  use 'hrsh7th/cmp-path'
  use 'hrsh7th/cmp-cmdline'
  use 'hrsh7th/nvim-cmp'
  use 'glepnir/lspsaga.nvim'
LSP demo
  • nvim-tree - Gives tree view of folders in left sidebar.
  • telescope - Gives fuzzy search with previews (similar to fzf plugins)
nvim-tree +
nvim-tree + telescope

Status Line

In vim, there is vim-airline but requires more configuration in vimrc. lualine is a blazing fast and easy to configure Neovim statusline written in Lua.

  use {
    requires = {'kyazdani42/nvim-web-devicons', opt = true}

Startup Dashboard

startify gives a welcome dashboard with the most recently used files. You can also customize to add bookmarks.

Startify Dashboard
Startify Dashboard

Note: This plugin supports Vim too.


gitsigns gives options to move around git hunks ]c & [c to move between hunks, this plugin also provides hunk preview like below.

Git Signs
Git Signs

Syntax Highlights

nvim-treesitter provides a simple interface for tree-sitter in Neovim and provides highlighting based on it.

This plugin can be configured like below.

require("nvim-treesitter.configs").setup {
  ensure_installed = "maintained",
  highlight = {
    enable = true,
    use_languagetree = true
  indent = {enable = true},
  rainbow = {
    enable = false,
    extended_mode = true,
    max_file_lines = 1000
  textobjects = {
    select = {
      enable = true,
      lookahead = true, -- automatically jump forward to matching textobj
      keymaps = {
        ["af"] = "@function.outer",
        ["if"] = "@function.inner",
        ["ac"] = "@class.outer",
        ["ic"] = "@class.inner"
    swap = {
      enable = true,
      swap_next = {
        ["<leader>a"] = "@parameter.inner"
      swap_previous = {
        ["<leader>A"] = "@parameter.inner"
  playground = {
    enable = true,
    disable = {},
    updatetime = 25,
    persist_queries = false,
    keybindings = {
      toggle_query_editor = "o",
      toggle_hl_groups = "i",
      toggle_injected_languages = "t",
      toggle_anonymous_nodes = "a",
      toggle_language_display = "I",
      focus_language = "f",
      unfocus_language = "F",
      update = "R",
      goto_node = "<cr>",
      show_help = "?"

Which key

vim-which-key is similar to emacs which-key, when you press a key, it will show next available keys; this is useful as there are many key bindings.

You can use below config, to trigger which key to expand on next available keys.

nnoremap("<leader>",":WhichKey ','<cr>")
nnoremap("<space>",":WhichKey '<Space>'<cr>")
nnoremap("f",":WhichKey 'f'<cr>")
which-key demo
which-key demo

Note: This plugin supports Vim too.


You can use neovim inside Chrome and firefox using Firenvim. You can configure like below in your in init.lua file.

-- Firenvim (browser integration)
vim.cmd 'let g:firenvim_config = { "globalSettings": { "alt": "all", }, "localSettings": { ".*": { "cmdline": "neovim", "content": "text", "priority": 0, "selector": "textarea", "takeover": "always", }, } }'
-- Disable `firenvim` for the particular webiste
vim.cmd 'let fc = g:firenvim_config["localSettings"]'
vim.cmd 'let fc["https?://"] = { "takeover": "never", "priority": 1 }'
-- Change `firenvim` file type to enable syntax highlight, `coc` works perfectly
-- " after this settings!!!
vim.cmd 'autocmd BufEnter github.com_*.txt set filetype=markdown'
vim.cmd 'autocmd BufEnter txti.es_*.txt set filetype=typescript'
-- Increase the font size to solve the `text too small` issue
function IsFirenvimActive(event)
    if vim.g.enable_vim_debug then print("IsFirenvimActive, event: ", vim.inspect(event)) end

    if vim.fn.exists('*nvim_get_chan_info') == 0 then return 0 end

    local ui = vim.api.nvim_get_chan_info(event.chan)
    if vim.g.enable_vim_debug then print("IsFirenvimActive, ui: ", vim.inspect(ui)) end
    local is_firenvim_active_in_browser = (ui['client'] ~= nil and ui['client']['name'] ~= nil)
    if vim.g.enable_vim_debug then print("is_firenvim_active_in_browser: ", is_firenvim_active_in_browser) end
    return is_firenvim_active_in_browser
function OnUIEnter(event)
    if IsFirenvimActive(event) then
        -- Disable the status bar
        vim.cmd 'set laststatus=0'

        -- Increase the font size
        vim.cmd 'set guifont=MesloLGSDZ\\ Nerd\\ Font:h20'
vim.cmd([[autocmd UIEnter * :call luaeval('OnUIEnter(vim.fn.deepcopy(vim.v.event))')]])

Note: If firenvim is not loading in text area, you can use Cmd+e in MacOS, in Windows/Linux you can use Ctrl+e

Firenvim inside gmail
Firenvim inside gmail


Above are some ways to customize neovim. If you want a complete configuration file of the above examples, refer here. Happy Vimming. – RC