How can I configure vim to display hidden characters like tabs or spaces ONLY while those characters are typed? I do not want tabs and/or space replaced with special characters like ">" or "_" when the file is written.

  • You're quite welcome, dan0! Too bad you didn't stick around for the answer to your question and will probably never even read this comment. :-) – janmoesen Nov 3 '11 at 19:31

Checkout listchars. This is what I have in my ~/.vimrc:

set list
set listchars=tab:→\ ,extends:»,precedes:«,trail:▒,nbsp:·

Show a right arrow for tabs, a semi-filled block for trailing whitespace, and a middot for non-breaking spaces. This is purely for display; the file does not contain those fancy characters.


Drew Neils' Vimcasts are amazing, take a look at this one. It help me made the transition from Textmate to Vim


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