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A use-package declaration for simplifying your .emacs
Emacs Lisp
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The use-package declaration macro allows you to isolate package configuration in your ".emacs" in a way that is performance-oriented and, well, just tidy. I created it because I have over 80 packages that I use in Emacs, and things were getting difficult to manage. Yet with this utility my total load time is just under 1 second, with no loss of functionality!

Here is the simplest use-package declaration:

(use-package foo)

This loads in the package foo, but only if foo is available on your system. If not, a warning is logged to your *Messages* buffer. If it succeeds a message about "Loading foo" is logged, along with the time it took to load, if that time is over 0.01s.

Use the :init keyword to do some stuff to initialize foo. If loading was deferred, the code is run immediately; otherwise the package is required before running the code. See below for options that defer loading of the package.

(use-package foo
    (setq foo-variable t)
    (foo-mode 1)))

A very common thing to do when loading a module is to bind a key to primary commands within that module:

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :bind ("C-." . ace-jump-mode))

This does two things: first, it creates autoload for the ace-jump-mode command, and defers loading of ace-jump-mode until you actually use it. Second, it binds the key C-. to that command. After loading, you can use M-x describe-personal-keybindings to see all such bindings you've set throughout your Emacs.

A more literal way to do the exact same thing is:

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :commands ace-jump-mode
  (bind-key "C-." 'ace-jump-mode))

When you use the :commands keyword, it creates autoloads for those commands and defers loading of the module until they are used. In this case, the :init form is always run -- even if ace-jump-mode might not be on your system. So remember to keep :init activities to only those that would succeed either way.

Similar to :bind, you can use :mode and :interpreter to establish a deferred binding within auto-mode-alist and interpreter-mode-alist. The specifier to either keyword can be a single cons, or a list, or just a string:

(use-package ruby-mode
  :mode "\\.rb\\'"
  :interpreter "ruby")

;; The package is "python" but the mode is "python-mode":
(use-package python
  :mode ("\\.py\\'" . python-mode)
  :interpreter ("python" . python-mode))

If you aren't using :commands, :bind, :mode, or :interpreter (all of which imply :commands), you can still defer loading with the :defer keyword:

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :defer t
    (autoload 'ace-jump-mode "ace-jump-mode" nil t)
    (bind-key "C-." 'ace-jump-mode)))

This does exactly the same thing as the other two commands above.

You can also override deferring with the :demand keyword.

A companion to the :init keyword is :config. Although :init always happens in the case of deferred modules (which are likely to be the most common kind), :config form only run after the module has been loaded by Emacs:

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :bind ("C-." . ace-jump-mode)
  (message "Yay, ace-jump-mode was actually loaded!"))

You will see a "Configured..." message in your *Messages* log when a package is configured, and a timing if the configuration time was longer than 0.01s. You should keep :init forms as simple as possible, and put as much as you can get away with on the :config side.

You can have both :init and :config:

(use-package haskell-mode
  :commands haskell-mode
  (add-to-list 'auto-mode-alist '("\\.l?hs$" . haskell-mode))
    (use-package inf-haskell)
    (use-package hs-lint)))

In this case, I want to autoload the command haskell-mode from "haskell-mode.el", add it to auto-mode-alist at the time ".emacs" is loaded, but wait until after I've opened a Haskell file before loading "inf-haskell.el" and "hs-lint.el".

Another similar option to :init is :idle. Like :init this always run, however, it does so when Emacs is idle at some time in the future (see variable use-package-idle-interval) after load. This is particularly useful for convienience minor modes which can be slow to load. For instance, in this case, I want Emacs to always use global-pabbrev-mode. :commands creates an appropriate autoload; :idle will run this command at some point in the future. If you start Emacs and begin typing straight away, loading will happen eventually.

(use-package pabbrev
  :commands global-pabbrev-mode
  :idle (global-pabbrev-mode)
  :idle-priority 3)

Idle functions are run in the order in which they are evaluated, unless you specify a priority using :idle-priority, in which case lower priority functions are run first (the default priority is 5). If you have many idle functions, it may take sometime for all to run. use-package will always tell you if there is an error in the form which can otherwise be difficult to debug. It may tell you about functions being eval'd, depending on the value of use-package-verbose. Other good candidates for :idle are yasnippet, auto-complete and autopair.

Finally, you may wish to use :pre-load. This form runs before everything else whenever the use-package form evals; the package in question will never have been required. This can be useful, if you wish for instance, to pull files from a git repository, or mount a file system. Like :init, keeping this form as simple as possible makes sense.

The :bind keyword takes either a cons or a list of conses:

(use-package hi-lock
  :bind (("M-o l" . highlight-lines-matching-regexp)
         ("M-o r" . highlight-regexp)
         ("M-o w" . highlight-phrase)))

The :commands keyword likewise takes either a symbol or a list of symbols.

You can use the :if keyword to predicate the loading and initialization of a module. For example, I only want an edit-server running for my main, graphical Emacs, not for Emacsen I may start at the command line:

(use-package edit-server
  :if window-system
    (add-hook 'after-init-hook 'server-start t)
    (add-hook 'after-init-hook 'edit-server-start t)))

The :disabled keyword can be used to turn off a module that you're having difficulties with, or to stop loading something you're not really using at the present time:

(use-package ess-site
  :disabled t
  :commands R)

Another feature of use-package is that it always loads every file that it can when your ".emacs" is being byte-compiled (if you do that, which I recommend). This helps to silence spurious warnings about unknown variables and functions.

However, there are times when this is just not enough. For those times, use the :defines keyword to introduce empty variable definitions solely for the sake of the byte-compiler:

(use-package texinfo
  :defines texinfo-section-list
  :commands texinfo-mode
  (add-to-list 'auto-mode-alist '("\\.texi$" . texinfo-mode)))

If you need to silence a missing function warning, do it with an autoload stub in your :init block:

(use-package w3m
  :commands (w3m-browse-url w3m-session-crash-recovery-remove)
    (autoload 'w3m-search-escape-query-string "w3m-search")))

If your package needs a directory added to the load-path in order to load, use :load-path. It takes a string or a list of strings. If the path is relative, it will be expanded within user-emacs-directory:

(use-package ess-site
  :disabled t
  :load-path "site-lisp/ess/lisp/"
  :commands R)

use-package also provides built-in support for the diminish utility, if you have that installed. It's purpose is to remove strings from your mode-line that would otherwise always be there and provide no useful information. It is invoked with the :diminish keyword, which is passed either the minor mode symbol, a cons of the symbol and a replacement string, or just a replacement string in which case the minor mode symbol is guessed to be the package name with "-mode" at the end:

(use-package abbrev
  :diminish abbrev-mode
  (if (file-exists-p abbrev-file-name)

  (add-hook 'expand-load-hook
            (lambda ()
              (add-hook 'expand-expand-hook 'indent-according-to-mode)
              (add-hook 'expand-jump-hook 'indent-according-to-mode))))

If you noticed that this declaration has neither a :bind, :commands or :defer keyword: congratulations, you're an A student! What it means is that both the :init and :config forms will be executed when ".emacs" is loaded, with no delays until later. Is this useful? Not really. I just happen to like separating my configuration into things that must happen at startup time, and things that could potentially wait until after the actual load. In this case, everything could be put inside :init and there would be no difference.

For package.el users

You can use use-package to load packages from ELPA with package.el. This is particularly useful if you share your .emacs between several machines; the relevant packages will download automatically once placed in your .emacs. The :ensure key will install the package automatically if it is not already present:

(use-package magit
  :ensure t)

If you need to install a different package from the one named by use-package, you can specify it like this:

(use-package tex-site
  :ensure auctex)

Lastly, when running on Emacs 24.4 or later, use-package can pin a package to a certain archive, which allows you to mix and match packages from different archives.

The primary use-case is preferring packages from the melpa-stable and gnu archives, but with certain packages from melpa when you need to track newer versions than what is available in the stable archives.

By default package.el will prefer melpa over melpa-stable due to the versioning (> evil-20141208.623 evil-1.0.9) so even if you are tracking only a single package from melpa, you will need to tag all the non-melpa packages with the appropriate archive.

If you want to manually keep a package updated and ignore upstream updates, you can pin it to "manual" which as long as there is no repository by that name will Just Work(tm).

use-package will throw an error if you try to pin a package to an archive that has not been configured via package-archives (apart from the magic "manual" archive mentioned above):

Archive 'foo' requested for package 'bar' is not available.


(use-package company
  :ensure t
  :pin melpa-stable)

(use-package evil
  :ensure t)
  ;; no :pin needed, as package.el will choose the version in melpa

(use-package adaptive-wrap
  :ensure t
  ;; as this package is available only in the gnu archive, this is
  ;; technically not needed, but it helps to highlight where it
  ;; comes from
  :pin gnu)

(use-package org
  :ensure t
  ;; ignore org-mode from upstream and use a manually installed version
  :pin manual)

NOTE: the :pin argument has no effect on emacs versions < 24.4.

NOTE: if you pin a lot of packages, it will be slightly slower to start emacs compared to manually adding all packages to the package-pinned-packages variable, however should you do it that way, you will need to keep track of when (package-initialize) is called, so just let use-package handle it for you.

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