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I am trying to figure out why I don't have syntax highlighting when editing my crontab.

I have both $EDITOR and $VISUAL set to /usr/bin/vim:

> echo $EDITOR
> echo $VISUAL

If I save the crontab to a file and edit it with vim syntax highlighting is enabled.

> crontab -l > saved_cronab
> /usr/bin/vim saved_crontab

And if I use :syntax on while editing the crotab nothing changes

How can I enable highlighting when editing crontab with crontab -e?

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migrated from serverfault.com Mar 24 '13 at 4:53

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

up vote 0 down vote accepted

Did you export these variables (export EDITOR VISUAL)?

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This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. – mdpc Mar 22 '13 at 0:40
@mdpc Actually it does answer the question, and I'll bet it's the right answer, too. – Michael Hampton Mar 22 '13 at 1:30
@mdpc Probably export is an answer, but you are right - I bit misunderstand "you can answer but not comment" policy. Sorry about that. Should I remove my another "clarification request" (serverfault.com/questions/490255/…) ? – dsznajder Mar 22 '13 at 5:47

vim doesn't know, that your file saved_crontab is a crontab. Therefore, you don't get a special syntax highlighting for crontabs. Setting the filetype to crontab worked for me. I used:

:set ft=crontab

You can see the value of filetype with:

:set ft?
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You can also permanently set the modeline for this file by adding a modeline like # vim: ft=crontab to the top of the file. However modelines are disabled by default for security reasons as root and by some distributions. – Erik Apr 5 '13 at 13:39
Agreed: setting EDITOR or VISUAL is irrelevant, since OP ran vim directly. Further clarification would improve the answer, but the information in this question addresses the problem. – Thomas Dickey Mar 27 at 18:32

This worked for me:

export EDITOR

Add this to ~/.bash_profile to enable this for current user.
Add this to /etc/profile/any_file_you_like to enable this for all users.

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