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5 months ago


Whaler Logo

Lost in the ocean of your unordered and unorganized file-explorer looking for that project? Whaler has you covered.

What is Whaler?

Whaler is a Telescope extension to move blazingly fast between directories.

It is based on the concept of tmux-windowizer from ThePrimeagen which uses a set of directories and fzf to move to another directory in a new tmux session.

Whaler offers a fast experience to move between projects without having much hassle.


Whaler.nvim does primarily the following things:

  1. Looks for subdirectories in a set of directories passed as arguments.
  2. Fuzzy finds among the subdirectories.
  3. Once a directory is selected it automatically changes the vim cwd to the selected directory. (customizable)
  4. Automatically opens the desired file explorer. (customizable)

Whaler: Table of Contents

Getting Started

Whaler is a neovim telescope plugin extension.


Installation guide

It is recommended to put whaler as a Telescope dependency.

Using lazy:

return {


Whaler does not have any mappings by default. It is up to you to create any mappings.

In the Telescope configuration file:

-- Telescope setup()
local telescope = require('telescope')

    -- Your telescope setup here...
    extensions = {
        whaler = {
            -- Whaler configuration
            directories = { "path/to/dir", "path/to/another/dir", { path = "path/to/yet/another/dir", alias = "yet" } },
            -- You may also add directories that will not be searched for subdirectories
            oneoff_directories = { "path/to/project/folder",  { path = "path/to/another/project", alias = "Project Z" } },
-- More config here

-- Open whaler using <leader>fw
vim.keymap.set("n", "<leader>fw", function()
    local w = telescope.extensions.whaler.whaler
        -- Settings can also be called here.
        -- These would use but not change the setup configuration.

-- Or directly
vim.keymap.set("n", "<leader>fw", telescope.extensions.whaler.whaler)

In addition to passing strings into the directories and oneoff_directories parameters above one may also choose to use tables such as {path="/path/to/dir", alias="Personal Projects"}, this will modify the text presented in the selection UI to show [Personal Projects] theproject instead of the full path to each of the project folders.

Now, pressing <leader>fw will open a Telescope picker with the subdirectories of the specified directories for you to select.


Whaler supports a few configuration options. Here is the list of a default configuration:

whaler = {
    directories = { "/home/user/projects", { path = "/home/user/work", alias = "work" } }, -- Path directories to search. By default the list is empty.
    oneoff_directories = { "/home/user/.config/nvim" }, -- Path directories to append directly to list of projects. By default is empty. 
    auto_file_explorer = true, -- Whether to automatically open file explorer. By default is `true`
    auto_cwd = true, -- Whether to automatically change current working directory. By default is `true`
    file_explorer = "netrw", -- Automagically creates a configuration for the file explorer of your choice. 
                             -- Options are "netrw"(default), "nvimtree", "neotree", "oil", "telescope_file_browser".
    file_explorer_config = { -- (OPTIONAL) Map to configure what command is triggered by which plugin. 
    hidden = false, -- Show hidden directories or not (default false)
                             -- For basic configuration this is done automatically setting up the file_explorer config.
        plugin_name = "netrw", -- Plugin. Should be installed.
        command = "Explorer", -- The plugin command to open.
                              -- Command must accept a path as parameter
        prefix_dir = " ",     -- Prefix string to be appended after the command and before the directory path. 
                              -- Example: In the `telescope_file_browser` the value is ` path=`.
                              --          The final command is `Telescope file_browser path=/path/to/dir`.
                              -- By default is " " (space)
    theme = {                -- Telescope theme default Whaler options.
        results_title = false, -- Either `false` or a string. 
        layout_strategy = "center",
        previewer = false,
        layout_config = {
            height =  0.3,
            width = 0.4
        sorting_strategy = "ascending",
        border = true,

By default Whaler.nvim changes the current working directory (cwd) to the selected directory AND opens the file explorer (netrw by default).

Changing auto_cwd to false will make Whaler to only open the file explorer in the selected directory while maintaining the previous current working directory.

Changing auto_file_explorer to false while keeping auto_cwd enabled will make Whaler to change the current working directory to the selected one but without losing the current file.

Attention!: Setting both auto_cwd and auto_file_explorer to false will make Whaler almost useless as it won't affect to anything.

The file_explorer is a shortcut that automatically create a file_explorer_config with some basics commands. You can, for example, use the default netrw but instead of using Explore you can split it using VExplore. To do the whaler setup config should be like

whaler = {
    -- Some config here
    file_explorer_config = {
        plugin_name = "netrw", -- Plugin name.
        command = "Vexplore", -- Vertical file explorer command
        prefix_dir = " ", -- (Optional) By default is space.  

Use cases

Here I'll show some few use cases for Whaler.nvim. I'll be adding more but if you have any special use case please let me know and I'll add it here!

Split-viewing files from different projects

Using the following setup:

whaler = {
    directories = { "~/work" }, 
    auto_file_explorer = false, -- Do not open file explorer
    auto_cwd = true, -- But change working directory

Imaging you are starting a new project called harp inside your work path ("/home/user/work"). This new project it is similar to another already developed project called Wheel but with some fundamental changes. You want to compare the starting files side by side. You can enter the harp project and open the starting file. Then execute Whaler.nvim with the previous configuration setup and select the Wheel project. Notice that nothing really changed. But if you now find files in the current directory using Telescope find_files it would display ALL the Wheel files available. You can then open the desired file in a vertical split (default to <C-v> ) and keep modifying the main file in the harp project having the developed main Wheel side by side.

Multiple Whaler use cases

Let's say you want to search for a file in another directory but don't want to change directories again. Whaler can multiple configuration directly. The setup dictates the defaults of how Whaler would behave if nothing is passed when executed.

-- Setup whaler
whaler = {
    directories = { "/home/user/projects", { path = "/home/user/work", alias = "work" } },
    oneoff_directories = { "/home/user/.config/nvim" }, 
    auto_file_explorer = true, 
    auto_cwd = true, 
    file_explorer = "netrw",
    theme = {                -- Telescope theme default Whaler options.
        results_title = false,
        layout_strategy = "center",
        previewer = false,
        layout_config = {
            height =  0.3,
            width = 0.4
        sorting_strategy = "ascending",
        border = true,

Now, we configure the keymaps and add a new keymap to run Whaler and instead of changing directories it will run Telescope find_file.

local keymap = vim.keymap
keymap.set("n", "<leader>ww", telescope.extensions.whaler.whaler)
keymap.set("n", "<leader>wn", function()
        local w = telescope.extensions.whaler.whaler
            auto_file_explorer = true,
            auto_cwd = false,
            file_explorer_config = {
            plugin_name = "telescope",
            command = "Telescope find_files",
            prefix_dir = " cwd=",
            theme = {
                previewer = false,

Pressing <leader>ww would run Whaler with the setup previously configured, running netrw and changing directories. On the other hand, pressing <leader>wn would run Whaler with the new configuration, without changing directories and running Telescope find_files in the selected directory.

Supported File Explorers

Currently the following file explorers are supported out of the box:

  • netrw: Default and fallback option.
  • Neo-Tree. Does not require any configuration.
  • Oil. Does not require any configuration.
  • Nvim-Tree. To work as intended add sync_root_with_cwd = true in the nvim-tree setup function.
  • Telescope-file-browser. Does not require any configuration.

Related projects

There are MANY file explorers in the neovim community. This is NOT a replacement for any of them but an improvement whilst using Telescope.

But there are many extensions and projects that do relatively the same thing.

Check them out:

You can find more telescope extensions in the Telescope Extensions Wiki.

If you use or prefer any other let me know and I'll add them here.


Shoutouts to all the great contributrs actively working on Whaler.nvim that helped shape the plugin.

  • GCBallesteros - for constantly suggesting and developing Whaler.