How to set up Vim on Windows

If you’ve ever tried to achieve comfort working in Vim on Windows, you know what a hassle it can be.

On OS X and *nix, Vim works completely fine in the terminal emulator. Unfortunately there’s not one terminal emulator for Windows that can work good with different color schemes and handle terminal re-sizing well – things that are crucial to comfortable text editor usage.

Install gVim

Let’s start by downloading Vim from the official website.

Make sure that you download the version including the GUI  (gvim).

After the installation is complete, start up gVim to be presented with this atrocity:


Every Vim command you are familiar with is here, but the toolbars, the font, the colors – everything is wrong.

Chip away the ugly UI

gVim is configured in the same way as on any *nix system, using the ~/.vimrc file located in your home directory.

Let’s open up gVim and enter the following command: :e ~./vimrc

Now we’re ready to start punching our preferences into the configuration.

First thing we’ll do is set the encoding to UTF-8 to properly display international characters:

Next we'll hide the ugly toolbar:

Let’s be honest, we don’t need the menu either:

If you don’t use scrollbars for navigation, we can hide them as well:

Hit :x  to write the configuration and exit gVim, so that we can start it again with the applied configuration.

It should now have a much cleaner look:

Install custom fonts

Download and install fonts of your choice from the powerline-fonts repository on I recommend downloading it from this repo because of compatibility with the powerline & airline vim plugins. My personal favourite is the Hack font.

To set the downloaded font as the default we need to open up .vimrc one more time and type the following:

Make sure to replace [font-name] and [font-size] with your preferences.

And you’re ready to start typing away!