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diff-hl-mode highlights uncommitted changes on the left side of the window (area also known as the "gutter"), allows you to jump between and revert them selectively.

In buffers controlled by Git, you can also stage and unstage the changes.

For the usage instructions and the list of commands, see the Commentary section inside the file.

Tested with Git, Mercurial, Bazaar and SVN. May work with other VC backends, too.

The package also contains auxiliary modes:

  • diff-hl-dired-mode provides similar functionality in Dired.
  • diff-hl-margin-mode changes the highlighting function to use the margin instead of the fringe.
  • diff-hl-amend-mode sets the reference revision to the one before recent one. Also, you could use diff-hl-set-reference-rev to set it to any revision, see its docstring for details.
  • diff-hl-flydiff-mode implements highlighting changes on the fly.
  • diff-hl-show-hunk-mouse-mode makes fringe and margin react to mouse clicks to show the corresponding hunk. That's the alternative to using diff-hl-show-hunk and friends.


Put this into your init script:


You must also ensure that VC is enabled (e.g. vc-handled-backends is not nil).

Check out the Commentary section in each file for more detailed usage instructions.



Top window: a buffer in this minor mode, bottom window: the corresponding diff.







Emacs 25.1+.


  • By default diff-hl-mode uses the corresponding VC diff command, so it's only accurate when the buffer is in saved state. Check out diff-hl-flydiff-mode, it aims to handle unsaved buffers as well.

  • To use an alternative diff algorithm with Git, add a corresponding argument to vc-git-diff-switches, e.g. (setq vc-git-diff-switches '("--histogram")). Using the diff.algorithm option doesn't work because vc-git-diff calls git diff-index. diff-hl-flydiff-mode does not support alternative algorithms, because it uses the external diff program.

  • We conflict with other modes when they put indicators on the fringe, such as Flycheck. This is rarely a significant problem, since if you're using such a mode, you'd usually want to fix all errors and warnings before continuing, and then the conflicting indicators go away.

  • There's no fringe when Emacs is running in the console, but the navigation and revert commands still work. Consider turning diff-hl-margin-mode on, to show the indicators in the margin instead.

  • Frame-local and buffer-local values of line-spacing are not supported.

  • Fringe width up to 16 works best (because we can't define a bitmap with width above that number).

  • emacs-git-gutter shows indicators in the margin by default, allows you to customize how the indicators look more easily, and has a "stage hunk" command.


If you're using some package other than vc to commit changes, it might not run vc-checkin-hook after commits. In that case, you'll need to either add diff-hl-update to the hook it does run, or advise some function that's called in the buffer after its state has changed.


(advice-add 'svn-status-update-modeline :after #'diff-hl-update)


If you're using a version before 2.4.0, it defines magit-revert-buffer-hook (or magit-not-reverted-hook), which we use.

When using Magit 2.4 or newer, add this to your init script:

(add-hook 'magit-pre-refresh-hook 'diff-hl-magit-pre-refresh)
(add-hook 'magit-post-refresh-hook 'diff-hl-magit-post-refresh)


diff-hl should just work with Tramp. But slow or high latency connections can cause performance problems. If you experience such issues, customize diff-hl-disable-on-remote to t. This will change the behavior of both turn-on-diff-hl-mode and global-diff-hl-mode (whichever you prefer to use).