Neovim setup
29 October 2021  •  5 min to read

I decided to try out Neovim so I will use this blog post to document the setup process.

My main goals are:



After installing Neovim (on Manjaro Linux: sudo pacman -S neovim) I can start it with the command nvim.

I created an init.lua file in my dotfiles repository and symlinked it to the location of the actual Neovim config file:

ln -s ~/dotfiles/nvim/init.lua ~/.config/nvim/init.lua

This way I should be able to change my config and still be able to have some version control because it is in my dotfiles repository.


We can configure Neovim using the init.lua file. For example, we can enable line numbers by adding this line to the config file:

vim.wo.number = true

Option levels

There are several option levels:

Each option is specific to a level; for example - the number option is only available in the window-local options.

Basic usage

I can open a file by just typing nvim filename in the console. To move around in the file I can use the h,j,k,l keys or just the arrow keys. :q (shift+colon and then q) to close a file :w to save it.

It is also possible to open a folder with nvim. Then the files and folders inside it will be shown as a list and I can enter the folders or files with the enter key.

With shift + w I can jump to the next word, with a upper case W I can jump to the next word delimited by spaces. By using the same combination with e instead, we can jump to the end of each word. And shift + b jumps back one word instead of forward.

Editing text

By hitting the i key, we enter insert mode. Now we can actually add and change text. With the command :u we can undo the last change we made.

Splitting the window

I can split the current window verticall by using the :vs command. This opens another vertical window to the right. The :split command would open one below. In order to move around between all open windows we can use the :W w command (colon W and then w). This cycles through all currently open windows. To close the currently open window I can use the normal :q command.

If I have the mouse enabled in the settings (init.lua), I can also just click a specific window to focus it and resize the windows by dragging with the mouse.

Using a plugin manager - packer

I created a new folder in my nvim folder called “lua” and a “plugins” folder in the new lua folder and a new file called init.lua. (I actually created it in my dotfiles repo and symlinked it to the actual config folder again).

So after creating the folder and file in the actual config folder I ran the command:

ln -s -f ~/dotfiles/nvim/lua/plugins/init.lua ~/.config/nvim/lua/plugins/init.lua

Now the file in my dotfiles repository is symlinked to the actual config file again.

Then I cloned the repository of the packer plugin manager:

git clone --depth 1\

Now we add the first plugin to the init.lua file in the plugins directory:

return require('packer').startup(function()
    -- Packer can manage itself
    use 'wbthomason/packer.nvim'

I think this actually means that the plugin manager is basically adding itself as a plugin too. Now we have to reference this plugins folder in the actual init.lua file in the “root” directory (~/.config/nvim/init.lua)

In the initi.lua file:


Now we open the init.lua file (in the actual config folder) in nvim and run the command (shift + colon) PackerInstall.

Installing a color scheme

In the plugins folder we add a reference to the github repository that holds the color scheme. In my case I will be using the “Nord” color scheme:

return require('packer').startup(function()
    -- Packer can manage itself
    use 'wbthomason/packer.nvim'
    -- Nord color scheme
    use 'shaunsingh/nord.nvim'

And then we run PackerInstall again. Then in the normal init.lua file we need to set the color scheme:

vim.cmd('colorscheme nord')

After saving the file and opening nvim again, we should now see the new color scheme :)

Adding better syntax highlighting using treesitter

In the init.vim file in the plugins folder we add

    use {
        run = ':TSUpdate'

And then we install the treesitter plugin using the PackerSync command.

Adding treesitter support for all maintained languages

We add a reference to the treesitter config in the normal lua.init:


This basically means that the init.lua file will require any plugins/settings that are in init.lua files in the directories that are specified this way.

Then we create this treesitter-config folder in the lua folder. And in this new folder we create a new init.lua file. Now we can basically enable all languages that are “maintained” and supported by treesitter:

require'nvim-treesitter.configs'.setup {
  ensure_installed = "maintained",
  highlight = {
    enable = true,              -- false will disable the whole extension
    additional_vim_regex_highlighting = false,

The next time we open nvim, it will automatically download and install all languages that are supported. Now the syntax highlighting should look a lot better when opening code.

Figuring out which option level a setting belongs to

In order to set settings in the init.lua file using lua syntax, we need to specify the option level, for example vim.wo.number'. In order to figure out which option level a specific setting belongs to, we can use the help command`.

For exmample, figuring out where the cursorline setting belongs to:

:help cursorline

Now the settings page shows that cursorline is of type boolean and that it is local to window. This means we can set it using vim.wo.cursorline = true.

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