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Apr 25, 2016


Let’s say that you have text snippets that you want to paste, but that yasnippet or skeleton is a bit too much when you do not need a shortcut/abbrev for your snippet. You like org-mode, so why not write your snippets there? Introducing the yankpad:

* Category 1

** Snippet title

    Here's a text snippet I want to insert.

** Snippet with keybinding                               :last:tag:is:key:o:

    And here's another snippet. This snippet has tags, and the last of these
    tags should be a key. This will bind the snippet to the key (in this case
    "o") when first calling yankpad-map.

** expandword: Snippet with keyword expansion

    This snippet has a keyword; "expandword" in this case. If this category is
    active, and you type the keyword into a buffer and use the "yankpad-expand"
    command, the keyword will be replaced with this snippet.

** more:expands: Multiple keywords

    A snippet can have more than one keyword. This has both "more" and

** Regex expands                      :props:
   :YP_EXPAND_REGEX: number\([[:digit:]]+\)

   If you use the :props: tag the property drawer will not be included in the
   snippet. Instead the snippet can include information used by Yankpad.

   In this case we have set the property YP_EXPAND_REGEX which can be used instead
   of the expand keyword. YP_EXPAND_REGEX should be a regular expression, and when
   you use "yankpad-expand" the regex will be replaced with the snippet.

   The cool thing here is that the entire snippet text is then, before
   expansion, sent into the Emacs "format" function, with the OBJECTS argument
   set to the match groups in the regex. %s

   In this example, the "percent s" at the end of the last paragraph will be
   replaced with the digit matched by the regex. So if I write "number12" and
   use "yankpad-expand" the "percent s" will be replaced with 12.

* Category 2

  Descriptive lists will be treated as snippets. You can set them to be treated
  as =abbrev-mode= abbrevs instead, by setting
  =yankpad-descriptive-list-treatment= to abbrev. If a heading could be
  considered to be a snippet, add the =snippetlist= tag to ignore the snippet
  and scan it for descriptive lists instead.

  - name :: Erik Sjöstrand
  - key :: Typing "key" followed by `yankpad-expand' will insert this snippet.

** Descriptive list example 2                  :snippetlist:

   This heading would normally be considered a snippet, but because of the
   =:snippetlist:= tag, it is scanned for descriptive lists instead.

   - foo :: bar

** Explaining categories

    This snippet belongs to another category (named =Category 2=). Categories
    are useful if you need several yankpads, for instance if you're a teacher
    (like me) working with different courses.

** yasnippet magic

    If you have yasnippet installed (not a requirement), the content in each
    snippet is actually executed by yasnippet! This means that you could run
    elisp inside your snippets: `(+ 3 4)` and have handy tab stop fields.

    | Student | Grade |
    | $1      | $2    |

    That's pretty handy!

** [[]]

   If a heading has a link to another org-file, that file will be scanned for
   snippets. Those snippets are then appended to the category.

** [[file:misc_snippets::*Search]]

   You can specify a specific headline in another file, which you want to be
   searched for snippets. It could be a single snippet, or it could have
   subtrees (in which case all of them will be considered as snippets).

** [[id:38e4c8d2-5ab0-4e78-8e43-ea4a918e5c02]]

   You can also provide the ID of a specific org-mode headline.

** Code snippet examples

    You can organize your snippets inside a category by using subtrees, like
    this one. Only headings without children are considered as snippets.

*** "Litterate programming" snippet                    :src:

     Tagging a snippet with src says that only the content of source blocks
     should be expanded. All other text (like this paragraph) is ignored.

     #+BEGIN_SRC emacs-lisp
     (message "This is part of the snippet")

     If you have several source blocks, their content will be concatenated.

     #+BEGIN_SRC emacs-lisp
     (message "This is also part of the snippet!!!")

*** The source block below will be executed if tag is func :func:
     #+BEGIN_SRC emacs-lisp
     ;; Instead of a src-block, the snippet may be named
     ;; the same as an emacs-lisp function. This will then
     ;; be executed without arguments (see next example).

** elfeed                                            :func:e:

* Kitchen sink category
:INCLUDE:  Category 1|Category 2

** Include other categories

Snippets from Category 1 and Category 2 will be appended to this category.
This is done by setting the INCLUDE property of the category. Categories
are separated by a pipe.

* org-mode

** Major-mode categories

    If you have a category with the same name as a major-mode, that category will be
    activated when switching major-mode. This only affects the local buffer and does
    not modify the global category.

* my-projectile-project

** Projectile based categories

    If you have projectile installed (not a requirement) you can give a category
    the same name as one of your projectile projects. That category will be
    activated when using projectile-find-file on a file in the project.

* Global category                                   :global:
** Always available

    Snippets in a category with the :global: tag are always available for

* Default                                           :global:
** Fallback for major-mode categories

   If you open a file, but have no category named after its major-mode, a
   category named "Default" will be used instead (if you have it defined in your
   Yankpad). It is probably a good idea to make this category global. You can
   change the name of the default category by setting the variable


  1. Install yankpad from Melpa, or download yankpad.el and add it to your load-path and require it.
  2. The default location for the yankpad file is in your org-directory. This can be changed by modifying the yankpad-file variable.
  3. Optionally bind yankpad-map, yankpad-insert, and/or yankpad-expand to a key.
  4. Optionally install yasnippet and/or projectile and/or company-mode, if you want the additional yankpad features that those package provide.
  5. That’s it!

If you want different heading levels for the categories (default 1), change the value of yankpad-category-heading-level. You can also change the tag which defines categories as global, by modifying yankpad-global-tag. The name of the major-mode fallback category can be changed by modifying yankpad-default-category.

At the beginning of your snippet title you may have a list of keywords. These keywords are separated by colons (:). For the most part you probably only need one keyword, like hello: Greetings!, but you may have several keywords for the same snippet: hello:hi: Greetings!. You can change : into another string by changing the yankpad-expand-separator variable.

Here’s an example setup using the excellent use-package:

(use-package yankpad
  :ensure t
  :defer 10
  (setq yankpad-file "~/")
  (bind-key "<f7>" 'yankpad-map)
  (bind-key "<f12>" 'yankpad-expand)
  ;; If you want to complete snippets using company-mode
  (add-to-list 'company-backends #'company-yankpad)
  ;; If you want to expand snippets with hippie-expand
  (add-to-list 'hippie-expand-try-functions-list #'yankpad-expand))


  1. Add snippet entries to your yankpad-file. Level 1 headings are considered to be categories (by default). Also descriptive lists are treated as snippets by default (except if they’re in a heading without children, in which case the heading needs a :snippetlist: if it should be scanned for descriptive lists). A quick way to open your yankpad-file is to use M-x yankpad-edit. You can also add snippets to the current yankpad-category by using M-x yankpad-capture, or with M-x yankpad-aya-persist if you’re a auto-yasnippet user.
  2. Insert a snippet with M-x yankpad-insert. If the snippet has a keyword (it starts with a word followed by a colon), you can write that keyword into the buffer and use M-x yankpad-expand instead. It may be useful to bind these commands to some key on your keyboard. You can also use company-yankpad to expand a snippet using company-mode (thanks sid-kurias for contributing). If you want to insert the last snippet again, you can use M-x yankpad-repeat (bind that to a key if you’re using it frequently).
  3. If you want to change category, use M-x yankpad-set-category. If you have a category with the same name as a major-mode (for instance org-mode), that category will be locally set when switching major-mode. In the same manner you can name a category to one of your Projectile project names (if Projectile is installed). If both cases are true, the Projectile category becomes active, but the snippets from the major mode are appended as well. If you later change category with M-x yankpad-set-category, the major-mode and project snippets will be appended to the chosen category.
  4. If you want to append snippets from another of your categories (basically like having two or more categories active at the same time), use M-x yankpad-append-category. If you want one of your categories to always include snippets from another category; set the INCLUDE property of the category heading (several categories can be included this way, by separating them with |, see example at the top of this readme).
  5. To quickly open your yankpad-file for editing, run M-x yankpad-edit.
  6. Yankpad caches your snippets, making it a bit snappier to insert snippets from the yankpad. If you’ve edited your yankpad-file you might want to use M-x yankpad-reload to clear the snippet cache and reload your snippets in the current category.

Since a * at the beginning of a line would specify a new heading, lines can not begin with *. However, you can write \* at the beginning of a line, which will be replaced by a * when expanding the snippet. If you use this in order to yank snippets into an org-mode buffer, the new headings will be automatically indented – depending on the current level – by default. This can be changed by setting the variable yankpad-respect-current-org-level to nil, or by using special tags. Another approach is to encapsulate the snippet text in an org src block and tag the snippet with src (see Special tags below).

Sometimes it may be useful to set the category automatically for a specific file. In this case you can add yankpad-category as a file variable, for instance by adding this line at the top of your file:

-*- yankpad-category: "Category name"; -*-

You can also set the yankpad-category to nil in this way, if you do not want any default category triggered for that file.

There’s a macro called yankpad-map-simulate which can be used if you want a command which presses a specific key inside yankpad-map, for instance if you want a special keybinding for a specific snippet. The macro will create a command named yankpad-map-press-<key>. Here’s an example of how you could create a command and bind it to a key:

(global-set-key (kbd "<f5>") (yankpad-map-simulate "j"))

Now pressing f5 would trigger the snippet bound to j inside yankpad-map.

Special tags

Snippets in your Yankpad can have tags, and some of these have special meanings:

If a snippet has a tag named src, all code in source blocks inside the snippet will be concatenated – becoming the new snippet. All other text inside the snippet is discarded, so it can be used as comments for the source blocks. This feature is inspired by org-recipes.
The props tag removes the property drawer from the snippet, before expanding. The properties in the drawer can be used to collect data from the snippet. See “Special properties” below.
If a snippet has a tag named func, it won’t insert text. Instead a function will be executed upon “inserting” the snippet. The name of the snippet can be an elisp function, which will be run without arguments. Instead, the function could hold a single org-mode src-block, which will be executed in a separate buffer (so the code in the src-block does not have access to the current buffer).
Works like func, but the output of the function will be inserted into the buffer.
By default the inserted text will be indented (uses indent_region or the settings of yas-indent-line if yas-minor-mode is active). By using indent_nil, no indentation will occur.
Sets yas-indent-line to auto for this snippet.
Sets yas-indent-line to fixed for this snippet.
Sets yas-wrap-around-region to t for this snippet.
Sets yas-wrap-around-region to nil for this snippet.
The last tag of a snippet (except if its one of the above) will add the tag as a keybinding when first calling yankpad-map. If the last tag is o, then using M-x yankpad-map o will insert that snippet. This is most useful if you bind yankpad-map to a key. You can also have multiple letters in the tag, which will be treated as key sequences: if the last tag is yy then M-x yankpad-map y y will trigger it.
With this tag, yankpad will not actually consider the heading to be a snippet. Instead it will scan the heading for descriptive lists and treat them according to yankpad-descriptive-list-treatment.
As if yankpad-respect-current-org-level were true for this snippet.
As if yankpad-respect-current-org-level were false for this snippet.

Special properties

If a snippet has a property drawer, and the :props: tag, the drawer will be removed from the snippet text and the properties will be stored in the snippet. At the moment there’s only one property that has an effect on Yankpad’s behaviour, but more might be added in the future.

If this property is set, it will be used instead of any expansion keywords in the snippet title. The property is a regular expression. When using yankpad-expand the snippet will be expanded if the symbol at point matches the regex. Before expansion the snippet content will be sent to Emacs’ format function, where the OBJECTS argument is the matched groups from the regex. Example: If you have source_\(.+\) as the regex property, and expand source_python, the first %s in your snippet text will be replaced with python.

You could add your own special properties using yankpad-before-snippet-hook. This hook is run before a snippet is inserted, and the hook functions should take the snippet as their only argument. A snippet is a list with four elements: (snippet name, a list of tags, content, an alist of properties). If you use setf on the snippet, you can change it before expansion. Here’s an example that would upcase a snippet if it includes the UPCASE property:

(defun yp/upcase-snippet (snippet)
  ;; Check if we have a property named UPCASE
  ;; (nth 4 snippet) holds all the properties
  (when (assoc "UPCASE" (nth 4 snippet))
    ;; (nth 3 snippet) is the snippet content, let's upcase it!
    (setf (nth 3 snippet)
          (upcase (nth 3 snippet)))))

(add-hook 'yankpad-before-snippet-hook 'yp/upcase-snippet)

Integration with abbrev-mode

If you set yankpad-descriptive-list-treatment to =’abbrev=, descriptive lists inside yankpad categories will be handled by abbrev-mode instead of being considered as snippets.


2.30 (September 2019)
Added property functionality via the tag props. Added regex expansion with the YP_EXPAND_REGEX property. Added yankpad-before-snippet-hook.
2.20 (November 2018)
Added the variable yankpad-default-category, which is Default by default. If you have a category with this name, it will be used for the current file if you don’t have a major-mode specific category for that file. A snippet can now have several expand keywords, just separate them with colons.
2.15 (June 2018)
Descriptive lists defining snippets can now be placed anywhere under a category, and not only at the yankpad-category-level. If placed in a heading without children, the heading needs the :snippetlist: tag (otherwise it will be considered to be a normal snippet).
2.10 (April 2018)
Snippets can be spread between files, by using links in snippet headlines. Only headlines without subtrees are considered to be snippets, which means you can organize your snippets in different subtrees. yankpad-snippet-heading-level is removed, since it isn’t needed anymore.
2.00 (March 2018)
Snippets, with keywords, may now be defined in descriptive lists. These lists could instead be treated by abbrev-mode. A category can be tagged as :global: in order to include its snippets in all categories.
1.90 (March 2018)
Added yankpad-map-simulate. yankpad-map has a helper text (thanks akirak). wrap tags has been added. yankpad-aya-persist for auto-yasnippet added.
1.80 (February 2018)
Snippets can be configured to concatenate the source blocks in the snippet. This is done by adding the src tag to the snippet.
1.70 (February 2017)
yankpad-repeat and yankpad-capture-snippet added.
1.60 (January 2017)
company-yankpad (requires company-mode) was contributed by sid-kurias. You can now use company to complete snippet names!
1.51 (January 2017)
Added yankpad-reload.
1.50 (September 2016)
It is now possible to have active snippets from several categories at once, by using M-x yankpad-append-category or by modifying the yankpad file. This is done automatically for major mode and projectile categories.
1.40 (August 2016)
Added results tag. Works as func tag, but the output of the function is inserted into the buffer.
1.31 (August 2016)
Snippets are indented as default. The indentation behaviour can be changed by using indent_nil, indent_fixed, or indent_auto as tags for the snippet(s).
1.30 (August 2016)
Snippets can now have keywords. If typing the snippet keyword into the buffer, the snippet can be expanded by calling yankpad-expand. Just name the snippet expandword: Snippet name and you can type expandword M-x yankpad-expand to insert it.
1.20 (July 2016)
Snippets can be used to execute functions, instead of inserting text. Add the tag func to your snippet. The snippet can contain an org-mode src-block, which will be executed, or the snippet may be named the same as an emacs-lisp function, which will be executed without arguments.
1.10 (May 2016)
Snippets can have keybindings by tagging them. The last tag will be interpreted as a key and inserted into yankpad-map.