Emacs rainbow delimiters mode
Emacs Lisp


MELPA MELPA Stable Build status


rainbow-delimiters is a "rainbow parentheses"-like mode which highlights delimiters such as parentheses, brackets or braces according to their depth. Each successive level is highlighted in a different color. This makes it easy to spot matching delimiters, orient yourself in the code, and tell which statements are at a given depth.

Great care has been taken to make this mode fast. You shouldn't see any change in scrolling or editing speed when it's on even when working in delimiter-rich languages like Clojure or Emacs Lisp. It can be used with any language.

You can customize the colors rainbow-delimiters uses. The default colors are intentionally subtle; they are unobtrusive enough to make the mode worth looking at even if you usually don't like rainbow parentheses modes. A number of major color themes such as Zenburn and Solarized have added their own faces for the mode.

This is the official github repository for rainbow-delimiters.

The latest release of rainbow-delimiters is always found at https://github.com/Fanael/rainbow-delimiters/tree/master


The recommended way is to use MELPA or MELPA Stable. If either is in your package-archives, do

M-x package-install RET rainbow-delimiters RET

Otherwise, open rainbow-delimiters.el in Emacs and use

M-x package-install-from-buffer

Any other methods of installation are unsupported.


To toggle the mode in the current buffer:

M-x rainbow-delimiters-mode

To start the mode automatically in foo-mode, add the following to your init file:

(add-hook 'foo-mode-hook #'rainbow-delimiters-mode)

To start the mode automatically in most programming modes (Emacs 24 and above):

(add-hook 'prog-mode-hook #'rainbow-delimiters-mode)

Global mode

There's no global-rainbow-delimiters-mode anymore. It used to exist, but it was impossible to keep it from breaking some major modes. It's strongly recommended to use major mode hooks instead, as shown above. There's nothing stopping you from defining global-rainbow-delimiters-mode yourself, but if it breaks something, you're on your own.


To customize various options, including the color theme:

M-x customize-group rainbow-delimiters

You can specify custom colors by customizing following faces:

  • Faces take the form rainbow-delimiters-depth-N-face, with N being the depth. Depth begins at 1, the outermost color. Faces exist for depths 1-9.
  • The unmatched delimiter face: rainbow-delimiters-unmatched-face.
  • The mismatched delimiter face: rainbow-delimiters-mismatched-face.