Matching Terminal and Vim colors automatically

📅 November 30, 2017

👷 Chris Power

I’ve always been a bit of a chameleon when it comes to colors in my terminal. I am never settled on just one scheme. Sometimes I’ll go a couple weeks on a dark scheme like railscasts, just to switch over to solarized-light.

The switching back and forth was pretty frustrating. Each time I switch, I have to update my ~/.zshrc file to load a new colorscheme. THEN I’d update my ~/.vimrc to match. I’d also have to restart my current vim sessions so the editor runs with the new scheme.

This was all pretty annoying until I discovered:

I have both these packages set up on my machine, it allows me to do this:


Steps to accomplish this amazing workflow:

1: install base16-vim

I use vim-plug to handle my vim dependencies and strongly suggest anyone else use the same. Put this in your ~/.vimrc file:

Plug 'chriskempson/base16-vim' and run something like vim +PlugInstall +qa and you should be up and running! This will install all the base16 colorschemes for use in vim.

2: install base16-shell

Install base16-shell with the auto-completion. This is all lifted from the repo’s README linked above:

git clone ~/.config/base16-shell

Next (for autocompletion) place these lines in your ~/.zshrc or ~/.bashrc:

[ -n "$PS1" ] && [ -s $BASE16_SHELL/ ] && eval "$($BASE16_SHELL/"

3: Add config to your vimrc

Finally, you’ll need to update your ~/.vimrc to include a file that gets created/updated from base16-shell. Again, lifted from the great README in the repo:

if filereadable(expand("~/.vimrc_background"))
  let base16colorspace=256
  source ~/.vimrc_background

And there you have it! Base16-shell will set up your colors, and modify a vimrc file to upadte your colorscheme. As long as you’re sourcing this file in your ~/.vimrc, you’ll be able to automatically see the updates to your colorscheme in all running vim instances!

Like what you read?

Check out some other posts