Favorite Vim Options: directory

I was thinking about Vim configuration recently, and I wanted to point out one of my favorite Vim options. Have you ever been working in a Git repository and run a git status, only to encounter a series of swap files in the output? How about having an automated deploy refuse to run because it found an unstaged file in the working directory (you guessed it; a Vim swap file)? In a response to this annoyance, I've had colleagues recommend disabling Vim's swap file feature entirely! I'd like to propose an alternative: my friend, the directory option.

directory simply tells Vim where to put your swap files. So instead of littering your filesystem with a bunch of swap files, they stay in a single tidy location. Popular settings for this option include a directory under /var/tmp or under ~/.vim/. I like keeping swap files around, because crashes do happen, and it's nice to be able to recover one's work. I also do a lot of note taking in buffers unassociated with any file; having swap files can make recovering these possible. As an added bonus, having directory set allows vim -r (which lists swap files) to do its job more thoroughly, allowing you to find which swap files have been left behind after a crash without having to guess which directories they might be in.

Published on 2014-06-03