git ignore vim temporary files

What is the correct way to make git ignore temporary files produced by vim in all directories (either globally across the system or locally for a single project)?


Vim temporary files end with ~ so you can add to the file .gitignore the line


Vim also creates swap files that have the swp and swo extensions. to remove those use the lines:


This will ignore all the vim temporary files in a single project

If you want to do it globally, you can create a .gitignore file in your home (you can give it other name or location), and use the following command:

git config --global core.excludesfile ~/.gitignore

Then you just need to add the files you want to ignore to that file

Alternatively you can configure vim to save the swapfiles to a separate location, e.g. by adding lines similar to the following to your .vimrc file:

set backupdir=$TEMP//
set directory=$TEMP//

See this vim tip for more info.

This is something that should only be done on a per-user basis, not per-repository. If Joe uses emacs, he will want to have emacs backup files ignored, but Betty (who uses vi) will want vi backup files ignored (in many cases, they are similar, but there are about 24,893 common editors in existence and it is pretty ridiculous to try to ignore all of the various backup extensions.)

In other words, do not put anything in .gitignore or in core.excludes in $GIT_DIR/config. Put the info in $HOME/.gitconfig instead (as nunopolonia suggests with --global.) Note that "global" means per-user, not per-system.

If you want configuration across the system for all users (which you don't), you'll need a different mechanism. (Possibly with templates setup prior to initialization of the repository.)

I would also recommend to think to ignore files like:


as you may have files that end with .swp

Quit vim before "git commit".

to make vim use other folders for backup files, (/tmp for example):

set bdir-=.
set bdir+=/tmp

to make vim stop using current folder for .swp files:

set dir-=.
set dir+=/tmp

Use -=, += would be generally good, because vim has other defaults for bdir, dir, we don't want to clear all. Check vim help for more about bdir, dir:

:h bdir
:h dir

I found this will have git ignore temporary files created by vim:


It can also be viewed here.

Here is the actual VIM code that generates the swap file extensions:

 * Change the ".swp" extension to find another file that can be used. 
 * First decrement the last char: ".swo", ".swn", etc. 
 * If that still isn't enough decrement the last but one char: ".svz" 
 * Can happen when editing many "No Name" buffers. 
if (fname[n - 1] == 'a')        /* ".s?a" */
    if (fname[n - 2] == 'a')    /* ".saa": tried enough, give up */
        EMSG(_("E326: Too many swap files found"));
        fname = NULL;
    --fname[n - 2];             /* ".svz", ".suz", etc. */
    fname[n - 1] = 'z' + 1;
--fname[n - 1];                 /* ".swo", ".swn", etc. */

This will generate swap files of the format:


Which is pretty much what is included in github's own gitignore file for VIM.

As others have correctly noted, this .gitignore will also ignore .svg image files and .swf adobe flash files.

# VIM: Temperory files

# VIM: Swap-files

# VIM: Commands :cs, :ctags

# VIM session

# VIM: netrw.vim: Network oriented reading, writing, browsing (eg: ftp scp) 

The name of the swap file is normally the same as the file you are editing, with the extension ".swp".

  • On Unix, a '.' is prepended to swap file names in the same directory as the edited file. This avoids that the swap file shows up in a directory listing.
  • On MS-DOS machines and when the 'shortname' option is on, any '.' in the original file name is replaced with '_'.
  • If this file already exists (e.g., when you are recovering from a crash) a warning is given and another extension is used, ".swo", ".swn", etc.
  • An existing file will never be overwritten.
  • The swap file is deleted as soon as Vim stops editing the file.

The replacement of '.' with '_' is done to avoid problems with MS-DOS compatible filesystems (e.g., crossdos, multidos).


just have to create a ".gitignore" on the home directory of your project and have to contain


that's it

in one command

project-home-directory$ echo '*.swp' >> .gitignore

In myy case the temporary files are already commited by previous actions, so modifying .gitignore will not affect those commited files..., you have to git rm files_to_be_ignored --cache first, then commit, then DONE.

If You are using source control. vim temp files are quite useless. So You might want to configure vim not to create them.

Just edit Your ~/.vimrc and add these lines:

set nobackup
set noswapfile

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