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Helm is incremental completion and selection narrowing framework for Emacs. It will help steer you in the right direction when you're looking for stuff in Emacs (like buffers, files, etc).

Helm is a fork of anything.el originaly written by Tamas Patrovic and can be considered to be its successor. Helm sets out to clean up the legacy code in anything.el and provide a cleaner, leaner and more modular tool, that's not tied in the trap of backward compatibility.

Getting Started

Quick install

  1. Clone the helm repository to some directory:

    $ git clone /path/to/helm/directory
  2. Run make from this directory.

  3. Add to .emacs.el (or equivalent):

    (add-to-list 'load-path "/path/to/helm/directory")
    (require 'helm-config)

Alternatively, you can have a quick try to helm by launching from the helm directory:


Note that this will not work on Windows systems.

Install from Emacs packaging system

Helm is now available on Melpa at You will find there instructions to install.

Note to Linux Distributions Maintainers

Only the extensions present in the github emacs-helm organisation are supported.

Emacs Prelude

If you're afraid to play with Emacs's configuration, but want to try out Helm - have NO FEAR. Have a look at Emacs Prelude - it has Helm built-in and properly set-up.

Basic usage

Just type M-x helm-mini and enjoy. You might want to bind that command to a keyboard shortcut. Here's a suggestion:

(global-set-key (kbd "C-c h") 'helm-mini)

You can also start with M-x helm-mode and enjoy helm completion in your favourites Emacs commands (e.g M-x, C-x C-f, etc...). You can enable this by adding in your init file:

(helm-mode 1)

As a startup point you can also look at the helm section in Emacs menu to discover some of the commands provided by helm.

Advanced usage

Helm is capable of a lot.

You can find all the gory details on the Helm Wiki.

Known issues

Check out the project's issue list a list of unresolved issues. By the way - feel free to fix any of them and sent us a pull request. :-)


Here's a list of all the people who have contributed to the development of Helm.

Bugs & Improvements

Bug reports and suggestions for improvements are always welcome. GitHub pull requests are even better! :-)

NOTE: When trying if something is working or not, be sure to start helm from Emacs -Q or even better Start it from your helm directory with ./

Send Bug Report from Emacs

If you have problems, send a bug report via C-c C-x C-b in helm session (best) or M-x helm-send-bug-report outside helm session. We implemented this bug report feature because we want to know your current state. It helps usa solve problems easily. The steps are:

  1. Setup mail in Emacs, the easiest way is:

    (setq user-mail-address "your@mail.address")
    (setq user-full-name "Your Full Name")
    (setq smtpmail-smtp-server "")
    (setq mail-user-agent 'message-user-agent)
    (setq message-send-mail-function 'message-smtpmail-send-it)
  2. Be sure to use the LATEST version of helm.el.

  3. Enable debugger. M-x toggle-debug-on-error or (setq debug-on-error t)
  4. Use Lisp version instead of compiled one: (load "helm.el")
  5. Do it!
  6. If you got an error, please do not close Backtrace buffer.
  7. Type C-c C-x C-b (helm session, best!) or M-x helm-send-bug-report (outside) and then M-x insert-buffer Backtrace (if you got error)
  8. Describe the bug using a precise recipe.
  9. Type C-c C-c to send.

The Helm Team

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