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GNU Emacs major modes for Racket: Edit and REPL.
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example Support Racket here-strings. Closes #176
.dir-locals.el Set fill-column back to default 70.
.gitignore Fix .gitignore of .elc files
.travis.yml Add Racket 6.3 to matrix; remove some others Various updates to README: paredit and smartparens config; see #200 Regen Update THANKS.MD
channel.rkt Judicious custodian-limit-memory; closes #182
cmds.rkt Fix `error` arity
defn.rkt Simplify `eq-sym?`
error.rkt Use .dir-locals.el instead of file variables
find-module-path-completions.rkt Use .dir-locals.el instead of file variables
fresh-line.rkt Avoid flush-output on closed port.
gui.rkt Use .dir-locals.el instead of file variables
image.rkt Use .dir-locals.el instead of file variables
instrument.rkt Warn when people use time-apply with errortrace
keywords.rkt Use .dir-locals.el instead of file variables
logger.rkt Don't use the default current-logger
makefile Make imenu work with module forms; closes #180
mod.rkt Fix problems with module->namespace warning
older-racket.rkt Use .dir-locals.el instead of file variables
racket-bug-report.el Ensure buffer-file-name is string; fixes #197
racket-collection.el Ensure buffer-file-name is string; fixes #197
racket-common.el Add smart-[-key info for object forms
racket-complete.el Don't start REPL for eldoc-mode; fixes #201
racket-custom.el Judicious custodian-limit-memory; closes #182
racket-edit.el Ensure buffer-file-name is string; fixes #197
racket-font-lock.el Fix pcase pattern for Emacs 24.3
racket-imenu.el Make imenu work with module forms; closes #180
racket-indent.el Add indent rules for local and splicing-* forms
racket-keywords-and-builtins.el Use .dir-locals.el instead of file variables
racket-make-doc.el Ensure buffer-file-name is string; fixes #197
racket-mode.el Ensure buffer-file-name is string; fixes #197
racket-profile.el Use pcase as much as possible
racket-repl.el Don't start REPL for eldoc-mode; fixes #201
racket-tests.el Improve parens functionality
racket-unicode-input-method.el Use .dir-locals.el instead of file variables
racket-util.el Ensure buffer-file-name is string; fixes #197
run.rkt Judicious custodian-limit-memory; closes #182
scribble.rkt Look for indented help items. Fixes #150
try-catch.rkt Use .dir-locals.el instead of file variables
util.rkt Use .dir-locals.el instead of file variables

Racket mode for GNU Emacs

Build Status MELPA

This provides a major mode to edit Racket source files, as well as a major mode for a Racket REPL. The edit/run experience is similar to DrRacket.

  • Focus on Racket.

    • Mode line and menu say Racket.
    • Omit stuff for various current and historical Schemes that's not applicable to Racket.
  • Use DrRacket concepts where applicable.

    • A simple and obvious way to "run" a file.
    • Allow interaction in the REPL, but the effect is wiped on the next run.
    • A simple way to run unit tests (to run the test submodule).
  • More thorough syntax highlighting ("font-lock"):

    • All Racket keywords, built-ins, self-evals, and so on.
    • All variations of define for functions and variables.
  • Correct indentation of Racket forms, including for/fold and for*/fold.

  • Compatible with Emacs 24.3+ and Racket 5.3.5+.

  • More.


  • If you've used other Lisps and Schemes before, you might prefer Geiser, which is very sophisticated.

  • Although I dogfood this -- use it constantly to code Racket -- it is beta quality. My total experience writing Emacs modes consists of writing this mode.

  • Pull requests from smarter/wiser people are welcome.

  • Please report issues here.


The recommended way to use racket-mode is to install the package from MELPA. M-x package-install, racket-mode.

TIP: To use MELPA add the following to your ~/.emacs or ~/.emacs.d/init.el:

(require 'package)
(add-to-list 'package-archives
             '("melpa" . "")

Minimal Racket

If you have installed the minimal Racket distribution (for example by using the homebrew recipe): racket-mode needs some additional packages (like errortrace and macro-debugger). A simple way to get all these packages is to install the drracket package:

$ raco pkg install drracket


To start, there are only two variables you might need to set:

  • racket-racket-program is the name or pathname of the Racket executable. This defaults to Racket.exe on Windows else racket.

  • racket-raco-program is the name or pathname of the Raco executable. This defaults to Raco.exe on Windows else raco.

On Windows or Linux, these defaults will probably work for you.

On OS X, downloading Racket doesn't add its bin directory to your PATH. Even after you add it, GUI Emacs doesn't automatically use your path (unless you use the handy exec-path-from-shell package). Therefore you may want to set both of these to be full pathames like /usr/racket/bin/racket and /usr/racket/bin/raco.

You can setq these directly in your Emacs init file (~/.emacs or ~/.emacs.d/init.el), or, use M-x Customize, as you prefer.

Key bindings

To customize things like key bindings, you can use racket-mode-hook in your Emacs init file. For example, although F5 and C-c C-k are bound to the racket-run command, let's say you wanted C-c r to be an additional binding:

(add-hook 'racket-mode-hook
          (lambda ()
            (define-key racket-mode-map (kbd "C-c r") 'racket-run)))

Unicode input method

An optional Emacs input method, racket-unicode, lets you easily type various Unicode symbols that might be useful when writing Racket code.

To automatically enable the racket-unicode input method in racket-mode and racket-repl-mode buffers, put the following code in your Emacs init file:

(add-hook 'racket-mode-hook      #'racket-unicode-input-method-enable)
(add-hook 'racket-repl-mode-hook #'racket-unicode-input-method-enable)

For more information, see the documentation: C-h f racket-unicode-input-method-enable.


The usual M-x complete-symbol -- bound by default to C-M-i -- works, drawing on all symbols in the current Racket namespace.

Tip: When you first visit a .rkt file, or edit it to change its requires, you may need to racket-run it to make the symbols available. Otherwise, you may get "stale" symbols, or just those from racket/base.

To have TAB do completion as well as indent, add the following to your Emacs init file:

(setq tab-always-indent 'complete)

This changes the behavior of Emacs' standard indent-for-tab-command, to which TAB is bound by default in the racket-mode edit and REPL modes.

Font-lock (syntax highlighting)

Font-lock (as Emacs calls syntax highlighting) can be controlled using font-lock-maximum-decoration, which defaults to t (maximum). You can set it to a number, where 0 is the lowest level. You can even supply an association list to specify different values for different major modes.

Historically you might choose a lower level for speed. These days you might do so because you prefer a simpler appearance.

Racket-mode supports four, increasing levels of font-lock:

0: Just strings, comments, and #lang.

1: #:keywords and self-evaluating literals like numbers, 'symbols, '|symbols with spaces|, regular expressions.

2: Identifiers in define-like and let-like forms.

3: Identifiers provided by racket, typed/racket, racket/syntax, and syntax/parse. (This level effectively treats Racket as a language, instead of a language for making languages.)


You may want to add keybindings to paredit-mode-map:

  • Bind { and } to paredit-open-curly and paredit-close-curly, respectively.

  • Bind whatever keys you prefer for paredit-wrap-square and paredit-wrap-curly.


To use the default configuration that smartparens provides for racket-mode, add to your Emacs init file:

(require 'smartparens-racket)


Within Emacs, use the usual help functions.

  • Type C-h m to get help about the modes in effect for the current buffer, including a list of key bindings and commands.

  • To see help about a specific command, for example racket-run, type C-h f and then racket-run.

Here on GitHub you can browse the Reference.


Pull requests are welcome! See


I started this project accidentally, while trying to figure out a font-lock issue with Quack under Emacs 24.2.

Knowing nothing about how to make a mode in Emacs, I tried to isolate the problem by making a simple major mode, then adding things until it broke. It didn't break and I ended up with this.

I took various .emacs.d hacks that I'd previously made to use with Quack, and rolled them into this mode.

Also, I'd recently spent time adding Racket fontification to the Pygments project, and wanted richer font-lock.

Also, I had experienced issues with enter! not always reloading modules in recent versions of Racket, and came up with a DrRacket-like alternative, run!.

Finally, I remembered that when I was new to Racket and Emacs, I got confused by the Scheme menu. It has options that work with various Schemes over the years, but which are N/A for Racket. I would stare it and wonder, "Um, how do I just 'run my program'??". I figured a fresh focus on Racket might be helpful, especially for other folks transitioning from using DrRacket.

Update, Jan 2014: After I had used this for a long time, putting up with its quirks, someone put it on MELPA. That nudged me to take another look, learn more about Elisp and Emacs modes, and improve it. Although I still feel like an amateur, it has probably improved from alpha to beta quality.

Please see the Acknowledgments.

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