If you have a source file with hundreds or thousands of lines of code. How to you see its structure and go to some classes or methods quickly in Nvim? The solution is to use tagbar.


To use tagbar, you have to install universal-ctags, which will generate tag files for tagbar to use.

Install universal-ctags

For Linux

We need to build and install by ourself:

git clone https://github.com/universal-ctags/ctags.git
cd ctags
./configure --prefix=/where/you/want/to/install # install to where you have access
make -j && make install # may require extra privileges depending on where to install

Under the install directory, there are two directories: binshare. The ctags executable is in the bin directory. We need to add this bin directory to the system PATH variable:

# suppose that you have install ctags to $HOME/tools/ctags
echo export PATH=$HOME/tools/ctags/bin:$PATH >> ~/.bash_profile
source ~/.bash_profile

For Mac OS

For Mac OS, if you have installed Homebrew, you can simply using the following command to install ctags:

brew install --HEAD universal-ctags/universal-ctags/universal-ctags

Homebrew will do everything for you. No need to set up install path.

Install tagbar

Then install tagbar with your favorite plugin manager such as vim-plug:

Plug 'majutsushi/tagbar'

Use :PlugInstall to install tagbar.

Using tagbar

Open your code and use :TarbarToggle to toggle the tagbar window. You should be able to see the tagbar window with all your classes, methods and variables.

In the above image, the window on the right is the tagbar window.

If you frequently use tagbar, you should consider adding a shortcut for this command like the following:

nnoremap <silent> <C-K><C-T> :TagbarToggle<CR>

Tagbar also provides some shortcut for tag operation. Place the cursor on some tags in the tagbar window:

  • <Enter>: go to the line in the code where the tag occur, the cursor will be in the source code
  • p: Like the <Enter> key, except that the cursor is still in tagbar window
  • q: quit the tagbar window