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This Emacs minor-mode creates an automatically updated buffer called *Ilist* that is populated with the current buffer's imenu entries. The *Ilist* buffer is typically shown as a sidebar (Emacs vertically splits the window).

To activate imenu-list manually, use M-x imenu-list-minor-mode.
To activate it automatically on startup, add this to your init file: (imenu-list-minor-mode)

You can also use M-x imenu-list-smart-toggle to toggle imenu-list (and its window) on and off. You may wish to bind it to a key, for example C-':

(global-set-key (kbd "C-'") #'imenu-list-smart-toggle)

The old suggestion was to bind imenu-list-minor-mode; however, imenu-list-minor-mode does not take the visibility of the *Ilist* buffer into account, and only checks the current value of imenu-list-minor-mode. The smart-toggle enables or disables the minor-mode depending on the visibility of the *Ilist* buffer.

The imenu of the current buffer will be displayed in the *Ilist* buffer. From the *Ilist* buffer, you can use these shortcuts:

  • <enter>: goto entry under cursor, or toggle case-folding.
  • <space>: display entry under cursor, but *Ilist* buffer remains current
  • <mouse click>: same as <enter>
  • <tab>: expand/collapse subtree (hs-toggle-hiding)
  • f: same as <tab>
  • n: next line
  • p: previous line
  • g: manually refresh entries
  • q: quit window and disable imenu-list-minor-mode

Some users might prefer the imenu-list-minor-mode/imenu-list-smart-toggle commands to also set the focus to the *Ilist* window. To do so, use the variable imenu-list-focus-after-activation:

(setq imenu-list-focus-after-activation t)

The size of *Ilist* window can be automatically resized every time the *Ilist* buffer is updated. To do so, use the variable imenu-list-auto-resize:

(setq imenu-list-auto-resize t)

Note that the width of the window won't be resized if you're using emacs 24.3 or older. That's because of a limitation in fit-window-to-buffer. It is possible to take further actions every time the *Ilist* buffer is updated, by using the hook imenu-list-update-hook.

After jumping to an entry from the *Ilist* buffer, e.g. by pressing <enter> or <space>, the target buffer will be recentered so the cursor is in the middle. To cancel that, reset the hook imenu-list-after-jump-hook:

(setq imenu-list-after-jump-hook nil)

To use a different recentering logic, for example recenter-top-bottom, use the following:

(setq imenu-list-after-jump-hook nil)
(add-hook 'imenu-list-after-jump-hook #'recenter-top-bottom)

Automatic Update

When imenu-list-minor-mode is enabled, the *Ilist* buffer is updated automatically whenever the user is idle, with a default delay time of 0.5 seconds. To change the delay time, set the value of imenu-list-idle-update-delay-time.


imenu-list has several faces for showing different levels of nesting in the *Ilist* buffer. To customize them, see M-x customize-group RET imenu-list RET.

The mode-line of *Ilist* buffer can be changed by customizing imenu-list-mode-line-format, also available via M-x customize-group RET imenu-list RET.

Here are some pictures. Note that you can hide/show parts of the imenu list.

Window Position and Size

The size and position of *Ilist* window can be changed by customizing these variables:

  • imenu-list-position: should be left, right, above or below, to display the window at the left, right, top or bottom of the frame.
  • imenu-list-size: should be a positive integer or a percentage. If integer, decides the total number of rows/columns the window has. If percentage (0 < imenu-list-size < 1), decides the number of rows/columns relative to the total number of rows/columns in the frame.

imenu-list controls its display by adding an entry to display-buffer-alist. If you want fuller control over how the window is displayed, you should replace that entry.

If imenu-list can't open a new window (could happen when the frame is small or already split into many windows), the window will be displayed using the regular rules of display-buffer.


For users of window-purpose, imenu-list adds an entry to purpose-special-action-sequences. If you want fuller control over how the window is displayed, you should replace that entry.


Emacs plugin to show the current buffer's imenu entries in a separate buffer




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