Monthly Archives: May 2015

Installing Vim Pathogen


Manage your 'runtimepath' with ease. In practical terms, pathogen.vim makes it super easy to install plugins and runtime files in their own private directories.


Install to ~/.vim/autoload/pathogen.vim. Or copy and paste:

mkdir -p ~/.vim/autoload ~/.vim/bundle && \
curl -LSso ~/.vim/autoload/pathogen.vim

If you’re using Windows, change all occurrences of ~/.vim to ~\vimfiles.

Runtime Path Manipulation

Add this to your vimrc:

execute pathogen#infect()

If you’re brand new to Vim and lacking a vimrc, vim ~/.vimrc and paste in the following super-minimal example:

execute pathogen#infect()
syntax on
filetype plugin indent on

Now any plugins you wish to install can be extracted to a subdirectory under ~/.vim/bundle, and they will be added to the 'runtimepath'. Observe:

cd ~/.vim/bundle && \
git clone git://

Now sensible.vim is installed. If you really want to get crazy, you could set it up as a submodule in whatever repository you keep your dot files in. I don’t like to get crazy.

If you don’t like the directory name bundle, you can pass a runtime relative glob as an argument:

execute pathogen#infect('stuff/{}')

The {} indicates where the expansion should occur.

You can also pass an absolute path instead. I keep the plugins I maintain under ~/src, and this is how I add them:

execute pathogen#infect('bundle/{}', '~/src/vim/bundle/{}')

Normally to generate documentation, Vim expects you to run :helptags on each directory with documentation (e.g., :helptags ~/.vim/doc). Provided with pathogen.vim is a :Helptags command that does this on every directory in your 'runtimepath'. If you really want to get crazy, you could even invoke Helptags in your vimrc. I don’t like to get crazy.

Finally, pathogen.vim has a rich API that can manipulate 'runtimepath' and other comma-delimited path options in ways most people will never need to do. If you’re one of those edge cases, look at the source. It’s well documented.