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Robin Gagnon
Robin Gagnon

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

Reload init.vim without restarting neovim

Note: Most of the information below is also true for vim and its .vimrc

The road to the perfect vim/nvim configuration is addictive. I have come to accept that the time I spend configuring my setup will always be greater (much greater) than the time I save using nvim over other text editors. I like to think that I don't use neovim for productivity as much as it makes editing text fun for me, so it all evens out in the end.

It hurts a little to think about it now, but I used to restart nvim every time I made a change to my init.vim. I recently started using a key mapping to reload my nvim config, and it made everything much smoother.

Pursuing the inachievable goal that is to never have to edit my nvim setup again has never been easier.


First of all, the key mapping has to be callable from whatever file you are in, not just from inside init.vim. This will be useful when quickly editing the config while having a project open in a different nvim instance.

Comes $MYVIMRC. Both in vim and nvim, $MYVIMRC is an environment variable set to the path of your custom configuration file.

Test it by running :echo $MYVIMRC inside of vim or nvim.

The output should look like this:

# nvim

# vim

Sourcing $MYVIMRC

After editing your init.vim, you can use the $MYVIMRC variable to make nvim load the configuration again, instead of quitting and restarting.

:source $MYVIMRC

A simple key mapping can be created to run that very command. I set mine to 2 times <Leader>, which is space in my case.

nnoremap <silent> <Leader><Leader> :source $MYVIMRC<cr>

Every time I'm done editing my configuration, I can tap space twice in any open nvim instance, and the results can be noticed instantly.

Other useful key mappings


The $MYVIMRC variable can also be used to quickly open the file in a new buffer.


Personally, I use <Leader>v as the key mapping to open the file.

nnoremap <silent> <Leader>v :e $MYVIMRC<cr>

It could also be :split or :vsplit instead of :e to open the file in a split, not closing the currently open file.

Reload $MYVIMRC and the autoload directory

I like to separate my nvim configuration into multiple self-contained files. For example, I created a file in the autoload directory for my customized status line that I call using call statusline#_init() in my init.vim.

When editing a file in the autoload directory, sourcing $MYVIMRC is not enough to instantly see the changes made to the edited file. Its the file itself that needs to be sourced.

My solution was to create a SourceConfig function in my init.vim file that I can call instead when I want to reload all my config.

if (!exists('*SourceConfig'))
  function SourceConfig() abort
    " Your path will probably be different
    for f in split(glob('~/.config/nvim/autoload/*'), '\n')
      exe 'source' f

    source $MYVIMRC

The if condition checks for an already existing SourceConfig function. The check is important because otherwise, the function tries to redefine itself (while sourcing $MYVIMRC) before it is done running.

The rest is pretty simple. All files inside of the autoload directory as well as the $MYVIMRC are sourced. Note that the path to the autoload directory will be different if using vim.

I updated my key mapping to call the function instead:

nnoremap <silent> <Leader><Leader> :call SourceConfig()<cr>

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