How to Configure Command-Line ViM to Show Colors On Mac OS X's Terminal App

I've seen several conflicting answers to this on newsgroups and on newsgroups and the ViM for Mac OS X pages ( (sadly dead) and

This is what worked for me using Mac OS 10.1.4 to display 16 colors using ViM 6.1 and the standard Terminal application. It also works on OS X 10.3. YMMV, but try it.

You don't need to rebuild your termcap.db file or change the terminal setting to beos, nor redefine the TERM environment variable or the term variable within vim.

Just create a file called .vimrc in your home directory with the following contents. You will need to replace ^[ with a raw Escape character, which you can type by typing Ctrl-V and then (after releaseing Ctrl-V) the Escape key. Note that the source of this file contains some HTML escape sequences, if you want to download the raw ascii version of the .vimrc fle, get it here (IMPORTANT: right-click and save the file, don't view and then save).

" This .vimrc file should be placed in your home directory
" The Terminal app supports (at least) 16 colors
" So you can have the eight dark colors and the eight light colors
" the plain colors, using these settings, are the same as the light ones
" NOTE: You will need to replace ^[ with a raw Escape character, which you
" can type by typing Ctrl-V and then (after releaseing Ctrl-V) the Escape key.

if has("terminfo")
  set t_Co=16
  set t_AB=[%?%p1%{8}%<%t%p1%{40}%+%e%p1%{92}%+%;%dm
  set t_AF=[%?%p1%{8}%<%t%p1%{30}%+%e%p1%{82}%+%;%dm
  set t_Co=16
  set t_Sf=[3%dm
  set t_Sb=[4%dm

syntax on

" Everything from here on down is optional
" These colors are examples of what is possible
" type :help syntax
" or :help color within vim for more info
" and try opening the file
" share/vim/vim61/syntax/colortest.vim
" Note: where share is depends on where/how you installed vim
highlight Comment       ctermfg=DarkGreen
highlight Constant      ctermfg=DarkMagenta
highlight Character     ctermfg=DarkRed
highlight Special       ctermfg=DarkBlue
highlight Identifier    ctermfg=DarkCyan
highlight Statement     ctermfg=DarkBlue
highlight PreProc       ctermfg=DarkBlue
highlight Type          ctermfg=DarkBlue
highlight Number        ctermfg=DarkBlue
highlight Delimiter     ctermfg=DarkBlue
highlight Error         ctermfg=Black
highlight Todo          ctermfg=DarkBlue
highlight WarningMsg    term=NONE           ctermfg=Black ctermbg=NONE   
highlight ErrorMsg      term=NONE           ctermfg=DarkRed ctermbg=NONE 

" These settings only affect the X11 GUI version (which is different
" than the fully Carbonized version at

highlight Comment       guifg=Green                 gui=NONE
highlight Constant      guifg=Magenta               gui=NONE
highlight Character     guifg=Red                   gui=NONE
highlight Special       guifg=Blue                  gui=NONE
highlight Identifier    guifg=DarkCyan              gui=NONE
highlight Statement     guifg=DarkGreen             gui=NONE
highlight PreProc       guifg=Purple                gui=NONE
highlight Type          guifg=DarkGreen             gui=NONE
"highlight Normal                   guibg=#E0F2FF   gui=NONE
highlight Number        guifg=Blue                  gui=NONE
"highlight Cursor       guifg=NONE  guibg=Green
"highlight Cursor       guifg=bg    guibg=fg
highlight Delimiter     guifg=blue                  gui=NONE
"highlight NonText                  guibg=lightgray gui=NONE
"highlight Error        guifg=White guibg=Red       gui=NONE
highlight Error         guifg=NONE  guibg=NONE      gui=NONE
highlight Todo          guifg=Blue  guibg=Yellow    gui=NONE

"#### end color settings #############