update: 2020-11-15, add detailed instruction for Neovim config location.

TL;DR: After nearly one year of using Neovim on Windows, I find that the best experience one can get on Windows is to use GUI Neovim client such as Nvim-qt or fvim, not the terminal Nvim1.

In this post, I want to share how to install and configure Neovim on Windows 102. For configurations of nvim-qt on Windows, check this post.

# Before we begin

The built-in CMD on Windows is awful and lacks features of a normal Linux terminal. I strongly recommend readers using a better terminal emulator, for example, Cmder, which comes with Git for Windows and other utilities for you.

# Install

You can download the neovim nightly release from its GitHub repo. Then extract the package, add the extracted folder to your system PATH variable, and make sure that you can invoke nvim on the command line.

See here for other ways to install Neovim on Windows.

# Configuration

## Where to put the configuration file?

A common confusion for novice users of Neovim is that they do not know where to put the config files. It is in fact quite simple.

First of all, the neovim config file is named init.vim regardless of your system.

Second, based on Neovim official documentation, you should put init.vim under the directory ~/AppData/Local/nvim on Windows. To find here that directory is exactly, use the command :echo stdpath('config') inside Neovim.

If this directory does not exist, do not worry. Just create it and put your config file there.

## Install plugin-manager vim-plug

vim-plug is popular plugin manager for Neovim. To install it on Windows, open a PowerShell terminal (not Windows CMD!), and execute the following command:

md ~\AppData\Local\nvim\autoload
$uri = 'https://raw.githubusercontent.com/junegunn/vim-plug/master/plug.vim' (New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadFile($uri,
\$ExecutionContext.SessionState.Path.GetUnresolvedProviderPathFromPSPath(
)
)


In init.vim, use the following settings for vim-plug:

call plug#begin('~/AppData/Local/nvim/plugged')
" below are some vim plugins for demonstration purpose.
" add the plugin you want to use here.
Plug 'joshdick/onedark.vim'
Plug 'iCyMind/NeoSolarized'

Plug 'vim-airline/vim-airline'
Plug 'vim-airline/vim-airline-themes'
call plug#end()


When we run command :PlugInstall, all the plugins will be installed under ~/AppData/Local/nvim/plugged. We can also change this directory to where we want, for example, ~/AppData/Local/nvim-data/plugged.

# Issues

## The Neovim window content is not cleared when I exit

When I exit Neovim, the text content inside the buffer is still shown in the command line, wasting a lot of space. How do we clear the Neovim window content after exit?

After some research, I have finally found a solution that works for Cmder. Open Cmder settings and go to Startup -> Environment, add the following settings:

set TERM=xterm-256color


Restart Cmder and the issue should disappear. More discussions can be found here.

## Can not enter Neovim if there are errors in config file

If there are errors in init.vim, Neovim will prompt you the following message during startup:

Press ENTER or type command to continue

However, pressing Enter has no effect. Neovim will hang unless you press Ctrl-C to terminate the process.

To circumvent this issue, according to this issue, try to open Neovim with the following option:

nvim --cmd silent!


## Some shortcuts do not work

### Shortcut conflict with Cmder

For Cmder, Ctrl-W is used to close a console. Unfortunately, this shortcut is also used by Neovim as prefix for window operations. Maybe there are some other conflicting shortcuts, for example, Ctrl-V does work like Linux.

To disable the conflicting shortcuts in Cmder, go to Keys & Macro part to change or disable a shortcut.

### <Ctrl-6> does not work?

On Linux, we can use Ctrl-^(actually Ctrl-6) to switch buffers. However, on Windows, using <Ctrl-6> for buffer switching does not work in terminal nvim. I try to map Ctrl-6 to Ctrl-^:

nnoremap <C-6> <C-^>


It doesn’t work either. Until I find the solution , I use Ctrl+shift+6 to switch buffers.

My complete configurations for Neovim can be found in this repo. For How to configure Neovim for Python development, check this post.

# References

1. Maybe the situation will change after Microsoft’s windows terminal become mature enough. ↩︎

2. It should work for Windows 7 as well. ↩︎