On r/vim and r/neovim I’ve heard a lot about fzf, “A command-line fuzzy finder written in Go” by junegunn that plays well with Vim and Neovim.

But I was finally inspired by this blog post, which shows how you can use fzf to enable linewise completion in Vim, a feature I’d been looking to figure out for a bit.


It works OK! But mostly I wanted to write this down as an installation guide.

On Vim’s built-in line-completion

So after doing all this and writing this post I found out that Vim has a built-in insertion mode line complete function, which by default is invoked by <C-x><C-l>. I believe, like its word-wise companions, it only searches the current buffer. But it’s certainly far easier to get up and running than fzf, if indeed all you’re looking for is line-completion (and you can settle for only searching the current buffer as opposed to all open buffers).

I successfully remapped this command to <S-Tab> (shift + tab), which I think works logically with Super-Tab.

inoremap <S-Tab> <C-x><C-l>

But! If you want your linewise auto-complete to search all open buffers, or if you want fzf for its many other features, here’s how I installed it.

Installing fzf

First, from fzf repo, I installed fzf using git and GitHub. That apparently installs fzf on my system, the fzf executable, some Shell extensions, and the Vim/Neovim plugin.

fzf Install Script Targets .bashrc, but not .bash_profile

Now here’s where it went off the rails for me a bit. When I installed fzf (~/.fzf/install), I noticed that the install script edited ~/.bashrc. It added the following line:

[ -f ~/.fzf.bash ] && source ~/.fzf.bash

On my system though, up until today, when I make changes concerning bash I edited ~/.bash_profile. That may not be orthodox, but it’s how it worked for me. However I figured that if junegunn was targeting bashrc here it’s probably something I should source in my bash_profile. I accomplished this by adding the following lines to the end of my ~/.bash_profile (having consulted this blog post):

if [ -f ~/.bashrc ]; then
  source ~/.bashrc

I guess the fzf install script makes the assumption that the .bashrc is sourced in ~/.bash_profile, which isn’t that crazy of an assumption, but still one that wasn’t true for me when I began the installation process.


But then I think I needed vim-plug (also written by junegunn!) to manage this thing, so I ended up adding these two lines to my .vimrc, one for fzf and another for fzf.vim.

Plug 'junegunn/fzf', { 'dir': '~/.fzf', 'do': './install --all' }
Plug 'junegunn/fzf.vim'

Then, for the line-completion, I added:

imap <C-f> <plug>(fzf-complete-line)

So now, in insert mode, I can press control + f and fzf will run line-completion. I wanted to map it to <S-Tab> (shift + tab), but I coudln’t get it to work reliably in terminal Neovim.

If it finds multiple matches in open buffers it opens a small horizontal split on the bottom for me to choose from.

Since fzf doesn’t seem to work in MacVim (only in Neovim?), I put this remapping into my if has("nvim") conditional.

if has("nvim")
  imap <S-Tab> <plug>(fzf-complete-line)

I guess I’d ideally make a new if statement for if has("fzf"), but I tried that and couldn’t get it to work.

Since fzf opens in a terminal window in Neovim, I also freshened up my tmap settings in my vimrc to make that navigation a bit easier. (Note: Elsewhere I have <Space><Space> mapped to <C-w><C-p>, which goes to previous window.)

if has("nvim")
  tnoremap <Space><Space> <C-\><C-n><C-w><C-p>
  tnoremap <Esc><Esc> <C-\><C-n>:q<CR>

  autocmd BufWinEnter,WinEnter term://* startinsert
  autocmd BufLeave term://* stopinsert
  imap <S-Tab> <plug>(fzf-complete-line)

On r/neovim some users have shared their fzf/vim configurations. Here’s a simple one to use fzf as you would use ctrlp:

" Fuzzy file finder
Plug 'junegunn/fzf', { 'dir': $XDG_DATA_HOME . '/fzf', 'do': 'yes n \| ./install' }
let g:fzf_action = {
      \ 'ctrl-s': 'split',
      \ 'ctrl-v': 'vsplit'
      \ }
nnoremap <c-p> :FZF<cr>

I still have some exploring to do, but I wanted to get this down, since I didn’t find the fzf installation instructions super clear.