Prelude is an Emacs distribution that aims to enhance the default Emacs experience. Prelude alters a lot of the default settings, bundles a plethora of additional packages and adds its own core library to the mix. The final product offers an easy to use Emacs configuration for Emacs newcomers and lots of additional power for Emacs power users.
Prelude is compatible ONLY with GNU Emacs 25.1+. In general you're advised to always run Prelude with the latest Emacs - currently 26.1.
Table of Contents
- Fast Forward
- Installing Emacs
- Updating Prelude
- Enabling additional modules
- Getting to know Prelude
- Automatic package installation
- Caveats & Pitfalls
- Known issues
- Bugs & Improvements
Assuming you're using an Unix-like OS (
etc), you already have Emacs 24.4+ installed, as well as
can skip the whole manual and just type in your favorite shell the
curl -L https://git.io/epre | sh
You can now power up your Emacs, sit back and enjoy Prelude, forgetting about the rest of this manual.
There are two environment variables you can use to control the source repository and the installation directory. To change the installation directory:
export PRELUDE_INSTALL_DIR="$HOME/.emacs.d" && curl -L https://github.com/bbatsov/prelude/raw/master/utils/installer.sh | sh
To change the source repository:
export PRELUDE_URL="https://github.com/yourname/prelude.git" && curl -L https://github.com/bbatsov/prelude/raw/master/utils/installer.sh | sh
Note that the installer will back up any existing
.emacs file or
.emacs.d since it will unpack Prelude's code in
you're doing a manual install make sure you don't have a
or back up your existing
.emacs.d directory manually.
Don't forget to adjust your
prelude-modules.el file once the installation is done.
By default most of the modules that ship with Prelude are not loaded.
Obviously to use the Emacs Prelude you have to install Emacs first. Have a look at the WikEmacs articles on installing Emacs.
You can install Emacs Prelude via the command line with either
git is also required.
If you're using
curl type the following command:
curl -L https://github.com/bbatsov/prelude/raw/master/utils/installer.sh | sh
If you're using
wget --no-check-certificate https://github.com/bbatsov/prelude/raw/master/utils/installer.sh -O - | sh
Make sure you do not have any
~/.emacs file present.
git clone git://github.com/bbatsov/prelude.git path/to/local/repo ln -s path/to/local/repo ~/.emacs.d cd ~/.emacs.d
If you are using Windows, you should check what Emacs thinks the
~ directory is by running Emacs and typing
C-x d ~/<RET>, and then adjust the command appropriately.
The update procedure is fairly straightforward and consists of 3 steps:
Update all bundled packages
Just run M-x package-list-packages RET U x.
Update Prelude's code
cd path/to/prelude/installation git pull
path/to/prelude/installation is usually
~/.emacs.d (at least
on Unix systems).
It's generally a good idea to stop Emacs after you do the update. The next time Prelude starts it will install any new dependencies (if there are such).
Simply run M-x prelude-update from Emacs itself and restart Emacs afterwards.
By default, Prelude will install packages from the melpa and gnu package
repositories. Occasionally package integration can break when upgrading packages.
This can be avoided by pinning packages to stable versions in other repositories.
To do so, copy
prelude-pinned-packages.el from the sample directory to
Prelude's root directory and adjust the variables
Enabling additional modules
By default most of the modules that ship with Prelude are not loaded. For more information on the functionality provided by these modules visit the docs.
;;; Uncomment the modules you'd like to use and restart Prelude afterwards (require 'prelude-c) ;; (require 'prelude-clojure) ;; (require 'prelude-coffee) ;; (require 'prelude-common-lisp) ;; (require 'prelude-css) (require 'prelude-emacs-lisp) (require 'prelude-erc) ;; (require 'prelude-erlang) ;; (require 'prelude-elixir) ;; (require 'prelude-haskell) (require 'prelude-js) ;; (require 'prelude-latex) (require 'prelude-lisp) (require 'prelude-org) (require 'prelude-perl) ;; (require 'prelude-python) ;; (require 'prelude-ruby) ;; (require 'prelude-scala) (require 'prelude-scheme) ;; (require 'prelude-scss) ;; (require 'prelude-web) (require 'prelude-xml)
You'll need to adjust your
prelude-modules.el file once the
installation is done. If you are doing a manual install then you first
need to copy the
prelude-modules.el available in the sample
directory to the root of
path/to/prelude/installation and then
adjust that one.
After you've uncommented a module you should either restart Emacs or evaluate the module
require expression with C-x C-e.
Nothing fancy here. Just start Emacs as usual. Personally I run Emacs in daemon mode:
Afterwards I connect to the server with either a terminal or a GUI client like this:
emacsclient -t emacsclient -c
You'd probably do well to put a few aliases in your
alias e='emacsclient -t' alias ec='emacsclient -c' alias vim='emacsclient -t' alias vi='emacsclient -t'
The last two aliases are helpful if you're used to editing files from
the command line using
You can also open a file with the cursor positioned directly on a specific line:
This will open file 'somefile' and set cursor on line 1234.
Getting to know Prelude
Certainly the best way to understand how Prelude enhances the default
Emacs experience is to peruse Prelude's source code (which is
obviously written in Emacs Lisp). Understanding the code is not
necessary of course. Prelude includes a
prelude-mode minor Emacs mode
which collects some of the additional functionality added by
Prelude. It also adds an additional keymap that binds many of those
extensions to keybindings.
|C-+||Increase font size(
|C--||Decrease font size(
|C-x O||Go back to previous window (the inverse of
|C-^||Join two lines into one(
|C-x M-m||Start your default shell.|
|C-x C-m||Alias for
|C-h C-m||Display key bindings of current major mode and descriptions of every binding.|
|F11||Make the window full screen.|
|F12||Toggle the Emacs menu bar.|
|C-x g||Open Magit's status buffer.|
|C-x M-g||Open Magit's popup of popups.|
|M-Z||Zap up to char.|
|C-c o||Open the currently visited file with an external program.|
|C-c i||Search for a symbol, only for buffers that contain code|
|C-c g||Search in Google for the thing under point (or an interactive query).|
|C-c G||Search in GitHub for the thing under point (or an interactive query).|
|C-c y||Search in YouTube for the thing under point (or an interactive query).|
|C-c U||Search in Duckduckgo for the thing under point (or an interactive query).|
|C-S-RET or Super-o||Insert an empty line above the current line and indent it properly.|
|S-RET or M-o||Insert an empty line and indent it properly (as in most IDEs).|
|C-S-up or M-S-up||Move the current line or region up.|
|C-S-down or M-S-down||Move the current line or region down.|
|C-c n||Fix indentation in buffer and strip whitespace.|
|C-c f||Open recently visited file.|
|C-M-\||Indent region (if selected) or the entire buffer.|
|C-c u||Open a new buffer containing the contents of URL.|
|C-c e||Eval a bit of Emacs Lisp code and replace it with its result.|
|C-c s||Swap two active windows.|
|C-c D||Delete current file and buffer.|
|C-c d||Duplicate the current line (or region).|
|C-c M-d||Duplicate and comment the current line (or region).|
|C-c r||Rename the current buffer and its visiting file if any.|
|C-c t||Open a terminal emulator (
|C-c k||Kill all open buffers except the one you're currently in.|
|C-c TAB||Indent and copy region to clipboard|
|C-c I||Open user's init file.|
|C-c S||Open shell's init file.|
|C-c . +||Increment integer at point. Default is +1.|
|C-c . -||Decrement integer at point. Default is -1.|
|C-c . *||Multiply integer at point. Default is *2.|
|C-c . /||Divide integer at point. Default is /2.|
|C-c . \||Modulo integer at point. Default is modulo 2.|
|C-c . ^||Power to the integer at point. Default is ^2.|
|C-c . <||Left-shift integer at point. Default is 1 position to the left.|
|C-c . >||Right-shift integer at point. Default is 1 position to the right.|
|C-c . #||Convert integer at point to specified base. Default is 10.|
|C-c . %||Replace integer at point with another specified integer.|
|C-c . '||Perform arithmetic operations on integer at point. User specifies the operator.|
|Super-k||Kill whole line|
|Super-m m||Magit status|
|Super-m l||Magit log|
|Super-m f||Magit file log|
|Super-m b||Magit blame mode|
Note: For various arithmetic operations, the prefix
C-c . only needs to be pressed once for the first operation.
For subsequent operations, only the appropriate operations (i.e.
/... needs to be pressed).
macOS modifier keys
Prelude does not mess by default with the standard mapping of
If you want to swap them add this to your personal config:
(setq mac-command-modifier 'meta) (setq mac-option-modifier 'super)
Note: I'd highly recommend to all macOS users to consider remapping Return to Control instead. That's an epic productivity boost and it's not as crazy as it sounds!
Projectile is one of the essential packages bundled with Prelude. It provides an easy way to navigate and switch projects. Take a look at its extensive documentation to get a feel for everything you can do with Projectile.
Prelude adds an extra keymap prefix
s stands for
Super) in addition to the standard one
C-c p. By default on Windows keyboard
Super is mapped to the
Windows key and on macOS keyboards
Super is mapped
If you ever forget any of Projectile's keybindings just do a:
C-c p C-h or s-p C-h
Alternatively you can just press s-p and wait for a moment
which-key to kick in and show you the available keybindings.
Helm is setup according to this guide: A Package in a league of its own: Helm.
You can learn Helm usage and key bindings following the guide. C-c h is Prelude's default prefix key for Helm. If you don't remember any key binding, append C-h after C-c h for a list of key bindings in Helm.
If you love Helm and want to use Helm globally with enhanced
helm-buffer-lists..., you will have to also add
prelude-helm-everywhere is activated, Helm enables these global key bindings:
|M-x||Run helm-M-x, an interactive version of M-x.|
|M-y||Run helm-show-kill-ring, shows the content of
|C-x b||Run helm-mini, an interactive version of
|C-x C-f||Run helm-find-files, an interactive version of
|C-h f||Run helm-apropos, an interactive version of
|C-h r||Run helm-info-emacs, an interactive version of
This key binding is activated in
This key bindings is activated in
If you prefer Ido in everywhere, you should not add
prelude-helm-everywhere, so you can use Helm along with Ido and Prelude's default commands.
You can always reactivate Helm with
helm-M-x, you have to pass prefix argument AFTER you run
because your prefix argument will be displayed in the modeline when in
buffer. Passing prefix argument BEFORE =helm-M-x= has no effect.
Key-chords are available only when the
prelude-key-chord module has been enabled.
|jj||Jump to the beginning of a word(
|jk||Jump to a character(
|jl||Jump to the beginning of a line(
|JJ||Jump back to previous buffer(
|uu||View edits as a tree(
|xx||Executed extended command(
|yy||Browse the kill ring(
In some cases you may not want to have a key-chord that is defined by prelude,
in which case you can disable the binding in your
personal.el file by setting
its command to
nil. For example, to disable the
jj key-chord add the
(key-chord-define-global "jj" nil)
If you're an
evil-mode user you'll probably do well to disable
If you want to use vim keybindings inside of Emacs enable the
prelude-evil module which provides
C-h k <key> (
<key> are the ones listed on the left) or
C-h f <function> (
<function> are the ones listed on the right) to see the detailed explanation.
cd modules/doc pdflatex prelude-cheatsheet.tex
cd modules/doc pdftocairo -png -singlefile prelude-cheatsheet.pdf cheatsheet
Automatic package installation
The default Prelude installation comes with a bare minimum of
functionality. It will however install add-ons for various programming
languages and frameworks on demand. For instance - if you try to open
cider and Prelude's enhanced Lisp
configuration will be installed automatically for you.
You can, of course, install anything you wish manually as well.
Emacs provides a dozen of
built-in themes you can use out-of-the-box by invoking the
M-x load-theme command.
Zenburn is the default color theme in Prelude, but you can change it at your discretion. Why Zenburn? I (and lots of hackers around the world) find it pretty neat for some reason. Personally I find the default theme pretty tiresome for the eyes, that's why I took that "controversial" decision to replace it. You can, of course, easily go back to the default (or select another theme entirely).
To disable Zenburn just put in your personal config the following line:
Or you can use another theme altogether by adding something in
(setq prelude-theme 'tango)
Note To use a non-built-in theme, like Solarized,
you'll have to install it from MELPA first by
M-x package-install RET solarized-theme. Then add
(setq prelude-theme 'solarized-dark)
Finally, if you don't want any theme at all, you can add this to your
(setq prelude-theme nil)
All files you create under the
personal/ directory are yours for
personalization. There is no single special personal config file --
any files you create in the
personal/ directory will be loaded in
lexicographical order. The overall loading precedence is:
Suppose you want to configure go-mode to autoformat on each save. You
can create a file in
personal/, let's call this one
config-go-mode.el and add the following to it.
(add-hook 'go-mode-hook (lambda () (add-hook 'before-save-hook 'gofmt-before-save) (setq tab-width 2)))
Fork (instead of cloning) the official Prelude repo and add your own touch to it. You're advised to avoid changing stuff outside of the personal folder to avoid having to deal with git merge conflicts in the future.
If you'd like to add some auto installation of packages in your personal config use the following code:
(prelude-require-packages '(some-package some-other-package))
If you require just a single package you can also use:
Preloading personal config
Sometimes you might want to load code before Prelude has started loading. Prelude will automatically preload all
Emacs Lisp files in your
personal/preload directory. Note that at this point you can't using anything from
Prelude, except a few variables like
prelude-dir, etc (since nothing is yet loaded).
whitespace-mode is awesome, some people might find it too
intrusive. You can disable it in your
personal config with the following bit of code:
(setq prelude-whitespace nil)
If you like
whitespace-mode, but prefer it to not automatically
cleanup your file on save, you can disable that behavior by setting
nil in your config file with:
(setq prelude-clean-whitespace-on-save nil)
prelude-clean-whitespace-on-save setting can also be set on a
per-file or directory basis by using a file variable or a
If you're not fond of spellchecking on the fly:
(setq prelude-flyspell nil)
Caveats & Pitfalls
Updating bundled packages
Generally it's a good idea to do a package update before running updating Prelude, since the latest Prelude code might depend on newer versions of the bundled packages than you would currently have installed.
If you're doing manual Prelude updates you should always do a package update first.
M-x package-list-packages RET U x
That's not necessary if you're using
M-x prelude-update, since it
will automatically update the installed packages.
Problems with flyspell-mode
Prelude makes heavy use of the flyspell-mode package for spell
checking of various things. The proper operation of flyspell depends
on the presence of the
aspell program and an
en dictionary on your
system. You can install
aspell and the dictionary on macOS with
homebrew like this:
brew install aspell --with-lang=en
On Linux distros - just use your distro's package manager.
Ugly colors in the terminal Emacs version
If your Emacs looks considerably uglier in a terminal (compared to the
GUI version) try adding this to your
.bashrc file and start Emacs again.
MELPA error on initial startup
If you get some http connection error related to the MELPA repo
just do a manual
M-x package-refresh-contents and restart Emacs
Warnings on arrow navigation in editor buffers
This is not a bug - it's a feature! I firmly believe that the one true way to use Emacs is by using it the way it was intended to be used (as far as navigation is concerned at least).
If you'd like to be take this a step further and disable the arrow key navigation completely put this in your personal config:
(setq guru-warn-only nil)
guru-mode completely add the following snippet to your
(setq prelude-guru nil)
Customized C-a behavior
(global-set-key [remap move-beginning-of-line] 'move-beginning-of-line)
Poor ido matching performance on large datasets
ido module swaps the default
ido flex matching with the
more powerful ido-flx.
The sorting algorithm
flx uses is more complex, but yields better results.
On slower machines, it may be necessary to lower
ensure a smooth experience.
(setq flx-ido-threshold 1000)
You can always disable the improved sorting algorithm all together like this:
While everything in Prelude should work fine in Windows, I test it only with GNU/Linux & macOS, so there might be Windows-specific problems from time to time. This situation will probably improve over time.
Check out the project's issue list a list of unresolved issues. By the way - feel free to fix any of them and send me a pull request. :-)
Support is available via several channels:
- Prelude's Google Group email@example.com
- Prelude's Freenode channel (
Here's a list of all the people who have contributed to the development of Emacs Prelude.
Bugs & Improvements
Bug reports and suggestions for improvements are always welcome. GitHub pull requests are even better! :-)