How to Install Neovim (NVIM) on Windows

Published:24 November 2022 - 8 min. read

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Michael Nguyen Tu

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Fast and reliable, Neovim (Nvim) is an excellent choice for those looking to make the switch from Vim. Compatible with most Vim plugins, including Ruby and Python plugins, Neovim seeks to refactor Vim aggressively.

In this tutorial, you will learn many ways to install Neovim on Windows and see how this powerful tool works.

Ready? Stay tuned and make your scripting more enjoyable with Neovim!

Prerequisites

This tutorial comprises hands-on demonstrations. To follow along, ensure you have the following in place:

  • A computer running Windows 7 or later – This tutorial uses Windows 10.
  • Chocolatey (Windows package manager) installed.

Installing Neovim via MSI

Even though Neovim is a cross-platform tool, it is not installed by default on your Windows system. The most recommended way to install on Windows is through its official release page on GitHub.

To download and install via MSI:

1. Open your favorite web browser, and visit the Neovim GitHub release page.

2. Next, scroll down to the Assets section, expand it, and click the nvim-win64.msi link to download the installer.

Downloading Nvim MSI
Downloading Nvim MSI

3. Once downloaded, double-click on the installer to launch the setup wizard.

4. Now, click Next on the welcome screen to continue.

Acknowledging the welcome screen
Acknowledging the welcome screen

5. On the next screen, tick the checkbox at the bottom to agree to the End-User License Agreement (EULA), and click Next.

Accepting the license agreement
Accepting the license agreement

6. Next, click Change to choose a destination to install or keep the default, and click Next.

Choosing a location to install Nvim
Choosing a location to install Nvim

7. Click Install to start the installation process.

Installing Nvim
Installing Nvim
Viewing the installation process
Viewing the installation process

8. Click Finish once the installation completes, closing the setup wizard.

Finishing the installation
Finishing the installation

9. Lastly, open PowerShell as administrator and run the nvim command below to check the version installed on your computer.

nvim -v

The output below shows the installed Neovim version, which confirms that it has been successfully installed.

Checking the installed Nvim version
Checking the installed Nvim version

Installing Nvim Using Chocolatey

Installing Nvim with the MSI package works fine but completing the installation takes too much clicking. If you primarily work on a command-line environment, installing via chocolatey is also an option.

Chocolatey is a package manager for Windows that lets you quickly install software like Neovim. This package manager is similar apt on Linux or Homebrew on macOS.

Run the below choco command to install (neovim) and all dependencies required to run the tool.

choco install neovim
Installing neovim
Installing neovim

Once the installation completes, run the following nvim command to check the installed version (-v) of Neovim on your computer.

nvim -v

Below, you can see its version number and other information, which verifies the successful installation.

Verifying the installation
Verifying the installation

Installing Nvim Using Winget

Another tool you can use to install Neovim on Windows is Winget, a package manager for Windows created by Microsoft. Even though Winget is still in development, this tool is stable enough for everyday use.

To install using Winget, follow the steps below:

1. Run the below winget command to search for the nvim package.

winget search nvim

Below, the first result is the latest stable release of Neovim, and the second is the latest nightly build. A nightly build is a version that contains the latest changes and features. This build is updated every day and is considered to be less stable than the latest stable release.

Take note of the version ID to install. In this example, you will install the latest stable release with an Id of Neovim.Neovim.

Searching for the Nvim package
Searching for the Nvim package

2. Next, run the below winget install command to install the latest stable version (Neovim.Neovim).

winget install Neovim.Neovim
Verify the Nvim installation
Verify the Nvim installation

3. Finally, run the command to verify the installation.

nvim
Verify the Nvim installation
Verify the Nvim installation

Installing Nvim Using Scoop

Scoop is another package manager for Windows, similar to Chocolatey and Winget.

To install using Scoop:

1. Run the below scoop command to add the extras bucket.

A bucket in Scoop is a collection of packages, and the extras bucket contains packages that are not in the main buckets, including neovim-qt.

scoop bucket add extras
Adding the extras bucket
Adding the extras bucket

2. Next, run the below command to install the Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime (vcredist2022), a requirement for running Neovim.

scoop install vcredist2022
Installing the Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime
Installing the Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime

3. Once installed, run the below command to install the following:

  • neovim – Neovim’s latest stable release.
  • neovim-qt – A GUI for Neovim based on Qt, a cross-platform application framework.
# Install Nvim
scoop install neovim
# Install Nvim's GUI
scoop install neovim-qt
Installing neovim and neovim-qt
Installing neovim and neovim-qt
Installing neovim and neovim-qt
Installing neovim and neovim-qt

4. Finally, run the nvim command below to open.

nvim

The output below verifies that it has been successfully installed on your machine.

Opening nvim
Opening nvim

Opening Nvim to Edit Texts

Regardless of which method you used to install Nvim, you still have to test if the tool actually works.

To see Neovim in action, you will edit and save a text file:

1. Run the below command to open if you have already closed Neovim.

nvim

2. Next, run the :pwd command below to see your working directory. The colon (:) is the Nvim command character. Anything you type after the colon is interpreted as a Neovim command.

:pwd
:pwd command to see your working directory
:pwd command to see your working directory

At the bottom of the PowerShell console, you will see something similar to the one below.

Checking the working directory
Checking the working directory

3. Run the below command to edit (:e) a text file, replacing nvim.txt with the name of any text file you want to edit.

:e nvim.txt

4. Now, press the letter ‘I’ to enter the insert mode and type in something like Hello nvim.

Editing a text file
Editing a text file

5. Press ESC and run the :x command, which does not provide output but saves the changes and closes the file.

:x

6. Lastly, navigate to the current directory(C:\Users\ata) in File Explorer and open the file in Notepad to see your changes to the text file, like in the screenshot below.

Verifying the changes to the text file
Verifying the changes to the text file

Configuring the vim-plug

The installation would not be complete without configuring the vim-plug, a plugin manager for Vim and Neovim. Plugin managers ease the process of installing, updating, and removing plugins. And the vim-plug is one of the most popular plugin managers for Vim.

Run the following commands to create a new folder called autoload if it does not exist and download the plug.vim file into that folder. The plug.vim file contains the vim-plug source code

# Create a new folder called autoload
md ~\AppData\Local\nvim\autoload
# Downloads plug.vim file
$uri = 'https://raw.githubusercontent.com/junegunn/vim-plug/master/plug.vim'

(New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadFile(
  $uri,
  $ExecutionContext.SessionState.Path.GetUnresolvedProviderPathFromPSPath(
    "~\AppData\Local\nvim\autoload\plug.vim"
  )
)
Configuring the vim-plug
Configuring the vim-plug

Now, run the below command to list (ls) all files and folders in *autoload* folder

ls -l ~\\AppData\\Local\\nvim\\autoload

The output below verifies the plug.vim file was created successfully.

Verifying the plug.vim file was created successfully
Verifying the plug.vim file was created successfully

Installing a Plug-in with the vim-plug Manager

Now that you have vim-plug installed, it is time to see how it works by installing a plug-in. But which type of plug-ins can you install? In the context of text editors, a plugin is a piece of software that adds new features or functionality to the editor.

For example, some plugins function as follows:

  • Add syntax highlighting for different programming languages.
  • Add color schemes.
  • Add keyboard shortcuts.

💡 There are thousands of Vim plugins available. Visit the GitHub repository for a list of popular Vim plugins.

In this tutorial, you will install the NERDTree plugin, a file explorer plugin for Neovim. This plugin allows you to explore and manage your filesystem.

To install a plug-in:

1. Open File Explorer, and navigate to the C:\Users\%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\nvim folder. Replace %USERPROFILE% with your actual username.

2. Next, create a new folder called plugged. This folder is where vim-plug will download and install plugins.

Creating a new folder named plugged
Creating a new folder named plugged

3. Run the below command to create a new file called init.vim using Neovim. This file will be the Neovim configuration file, similar to the .vimrc file in Vim, which tells Neovim which plugins to install.

:e C:\Users\%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\nvim\init.vim

4. Press I to enter the insert mode, and add the code below. This code tells Neovim to install the nerdtree plugin from the official GitHub repository where:

  • plug#begin() – Tells vim-plug where to download and install plugins.plug#end() – Tells vim-plug to stop looking for plugins.
The lines between the functions are plugin declarations, and you can put many plugin declarations, each on its own line.

" Tells vim-plug where to install plugins.
call plug#begin('C:\Users\Your_Username\AppData\Local\nvim\plugged\')
" Tells vim-plug where to download plugins.
Plug Plug 'https://github.com/scrooloose/nerdtree'
" Tells vim-plug to stop looking for plugins.
call plug#end()

5. Press ESC and run :wq to save your changes and close the init.vim file.

:wq

6. Now, run the below command to install any plug-in you specified in the init.vim file, which in this case, is the nerdtree plugin.

:PlugInstall

At this point, the NERDTree plugin is installed and ready to use.

Installing NERDTree Plug-in
Installing NERDTree Plug-in

7. Once installed, navigate to the C:\Users\%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\nvim\plugged\ folder, and you will see a new folder called nerdtree, as shown below. This folder is where vim-plug downloaded and installed the NERDTree plugin.

Confirming NERDTree is installed
Confirming NERDTree is installed

8. Finally, run the following command to access the NERDTree plugin.

:NERDTree

Below, you can see the NERDTree opens a file explorer in a split window. Now, you can select files and folders with the basic keystrokes, like the arrow keys and the Enter key, to open them.

Accessing the NERDTree plugin
Accessing the NERDTree plugin

Conclusion

A fast and reliable text editor is an essential tool for any programmer. Vim is a popular text editor among developers but has a steep learning curve. Nvim, on the other hand, is a fork of Vim with many enhancements and improvements.

In this tutorial, you learned how to install Neovim on Windows to edit texts and installed the NERDTree plugin to manage your file system without switching between different windows.

Neovim has so much to offer. Why not learn more about using this powerful text editor? Perhaps start using syntax highlighting? Play with colors and enjoy coding with Nvim!

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