In Vim, my tab's show up as ^I, and I'm wondering if anybody knows why this might be. This is especially annoying when using :o to open a file, as the autocomplete does not function. I've looked all over but haven't been able to find anything, it even occurs with a blank .vimrc file. Is there a setting that would cause this, or a way I can remap the key to get it to function properly?

2 Answers 2


If I read you correctly, you are talking of autocompletion in command mode when e.g. edit a file.

The section "cmdline-completion" of Vim manual says:

The 'wildchar' option defaults to (CTRL-E when in Vi compatible mode)

You should check this option.

OTOH, if :o means "open" command, it's obsolete and not recommended, and I'm wondering why do you use it. Really it's not to open a file, it's to enter visual mode.

If I understood you in a wrong way, please elaborate your question with more details. Currently it's too ambiguous.

  • 1
    Confirming that :e is the way to go if you intended to use :open/:o as a newbie just to open a new file. Tab works as expected with :e
    – dvdblk
    Mar 4, 2020 at 14:41

This was happening for me on a Raspberry Pi with a Raspbian Lite - Stretch image (2017-09-07-raspbian-stretch-lite).

The fix for me was to

sudo apt-get install vim

(perhaps vi was being used as default before I installed vim and my tab presses on the command line when trying to open a file were being shown as ^I)

  • Nice! Your answer made me think to check if vim was actually installed ... it wasn't! (Apparently I was just using vi the whole time). Oct 21, 2019 at 12:49

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