Skip to content

Install NvChad

Turning Neovim into an advanced IDE

This is actually not a real "installation" but rather writing a custom Neovim configuration for our user.

Performing a Clean Installation

As specified in the requirements, installing this new configuration on top of a previous one can create unfixable problems. A clean installation is recommended.

Preliminary Operations

If you have used the Neovim installation before, it will have created three folders in which to write your files, which are:


To perform a clean installation of the configuration, we need to back up the previous one first:

mkdir ~/backup_nvim
cp -r ~/.config/nvim ~/backup_nvim
cp -r ~/.local/share/nvim ~/backup_nvim
cp -r ~/.cache/nvim ~/backup_nvim

And then we delete all previous configurations and files:

rm -rf ~/.config/nvim
rm -rf ~/.local/share/nvim
rm -rf ~/.cache/nvim

Now that we have cleaned up, we can move on to installing NvChad.

To do this, simply run the following command from any location within your home directory:

git clone ~/.config/nvim --depth 1 && nvim

The command runs a clone of the NvChad configuration hosted on GitHub in the user folder ~/.config/nvim.

Once the cloning process is finished, the plugins that are part of the default configuration will be installed and configured, and you will have an IDE that's essentially ready to go.

NvChad Themes

As can be seen from the screenshot below, thanks to the configuration changes made, the editor has completely changed in appearance from the basic version of Neovim. It should be remembered, however, that although the configuration of NvChad completely transforms the editor, the base remains Neovim.

NvChad Rockydocs

Configuration Structure

Let us now go on to analyze the structure that the configuration created, the structure is as follows:

├── examples
│   ├── chadrc.lua
│   └── init.lua
├── init.lua
├── lua
│   ├── core
│   │   ├── default_config.lua
│   │   ├── init.lua
│   │   ├── lazy_load.lua
│   │   ├── mappings.lua
│   │   ├── options.lua
│   │   ├── packer.lua
│   │   └── utils.lua
│   └── plugins
│       ├── configs
│       │   ├── alpha.lua
│       │   ├── cmp.lua
│       │   ├── lspconfig.lua
│       │   ├── mason.lua
│       │   ├── nvimtree.lua
│       │   ├── nvterm.lua
│       │   ├── others.lua
│       │   ├── telescope.lua
│       │   ├── treesitter.lua
│       │   └── whichkey.lua
│       └── init.lua
└── plugin
    └── packer_compiled.lua


For the moment we will leave out the contents of the examples folder as it relates to the custom configuration, which we will address in later sections.

The first file we encounter is the init.lua file which initializes the configuration by inserting the lua/core, lua/plugins (and if present, the lua/custom) folders into the nvim tree. It also inserts the following files: lua/core/options.lua, lua/core/utils.lua, and lua/core/packer.lua.

In particular, the load_mappings function is called for loading keyboard shortcuts and bootstrap for loading preconfigured plugins.

require "core"
require "core.options"

end, 0)

-- setup packer + plugins
require "plugins"

pcall(require, "custom")

Inclusion of the core folder also results in the inclusion of the core/init.lua file, which overrides some Neovim interface configurations and prepares for buffer management.

As we can see, each init.lua file is included following a well-established order. We can anticipate that the init.lua file we are going to create in our customization will also be included, but logically, last in the load order. Broadly speaking, we can say that init.lua files have the following functions:

  • load global options, autocmds, or anything else.
  • override the default options in core/options.lua.

This is the call that returns basic command mappings:


This sets four main keys from which, in association with other keys, commands can be launched. The main keys are:

  • C = CTRL
  • leader = SPACE
  • A = ALT
  • S = SHIFT


We will refer to these key mappings several times throughout these documents.

The default mapping is contained in core/mapping.lua but can be extended with other custom commands using its own mappings.lua.

Some examples of the standard mapping are:

<space>uu to update NvChad
<space>th to change the theme
<CTRL-n> to open nvimtree
<ALT-i> to open a terminal in a floating tab

There are many combinations pre-set for you, and they cover all the uses of NvChad. It is worth pausing to analyze the key mappings before starting to use your NvChad-configured instance of Neovim.

Continuing with the structural analysis, we find the lua/plugins folder, which contains the setup of the built-in plugins and their configurations. The main plugins in the configuration will be described in the next section. As we can see, the core/plugins folder also contains an init.lua file, which is used here for the installation and subsequent compilation of the plugins.

Lastly, we find the nvim/plugin folder that contains an autogenerated file of the compiled plugins.

Last update: September 5, 2022

Author: Fanco Colussi

Contributors: Steven Spencer