This package streamlines the operation of switching between recent buffers, with an emphasis on minimizing keystrokes. Inspired by the Alt-Tab convention in Windows, it keeps the most recently used buffers on the top of the stack.
buffer-flip is available on Melpa.
Installing with package-install
M-x package-install RET buffer-flip RET
Then add the following to your config, adapting to your preferences.
;; key to begin cycling buffers. Global key. (global-set-key (kbd "M-<tab>") 'buffer-flip) ;; transient keymap used once cycling starts (setq buffer-flip-map (let ((map (make-sparse-keymap))) (define-key map (kbd "M-<tab>") 'buffer-flip-forward) (define-key map (kbd "M-S-<tab>") 'buffer-flip-backward) (define-key map (kbd "M-ESC") 'buffer-flip-abort) map)) ;; buffers matching these patterns will be skipped (setq buffer-flip-skip-patterns '("^\\*helm\\b" "^\\*swiper\\*$"))
(use-package buffer-flip :ensure t :bind (("M-<tab>" . buffer-flip) :map buffer-flip-map ( "M-<tab>" . buffer-flip-forward) ( "M-S-<tab>" . buffer-flip-backward) ( "M-ESC" . buffer-flip-abort)) :config (setq buffer-flip-skip-patterns '("^\\*helm\\b" "^\\*swiper\\*$")))
The following assumes the above key bindings.
To begin cycling through the buffers, press Alt-Tab. This begins the flipping process by switching to the most recently used buffer. At this point the transient buffer-flip-map is active. Pressing Alt-Tab will continue to cycle through the buffer stack, more recent buffers first. Pressing Alt-Shift-Tab will cycle in the opposite direction. Just begin working in the currently-displayed buffer to stop cycling. Doing so places that buffer on top of the stack. Alt-Esc cancels cycling and switches to the buffer you started in.
|Alt-Tab||Flips to second most recent buffer|
|Alt-Tab Alt-Tab||Flip to third most recent buffer|
|Alt-Tab Alt-Tab Alt-Tab Alt-Esc||Start flipping through buffers and then cancel, returning to the original buffer.|
|Alt-Tab Alt-Tab Alt-Shift-Tab||Flips forward through the two most recent buffers, then flips backward one buffer.|
Another good key binding
Personally I use the following key bindings which rely on key-chord. I like it because I can reach the keys easily in home position.
(use-package buffer-flip :ensure t :chords (("u8" . buffer-flip)) :bind (:map buffer-flip-map ( "8" . buffer-flip-forward) ( "*" . buffer-flip-backward) ( "C-g" . buffer-flip-abort)))
With these bindings,
|u8||Alternates between the two most recent buffers|
|u8 8||Flip to third most recent buffer|
|u8 8 8 C-g||Start flipping through buffers and then cancel, returning to the original buffer.|
|u8 8 *||Flips forward through the two most recent buffers, then flips backward one buffer.|
This is incidentally the default key binding for previous versions of this package. The current version has no default key binding.
There is a functional difference between this binding and the Alt-Tab
version above, which is that pressing the u8 chord
repeatedly will alternate between the two most recent buffers because
it restarts the cycling process each time by invoking the
buffer-flip command. In contrast, pressing Alt-Tab
repeatedly cycles through deeper and deeper buffers on the stack.
This is because Alt-Tab is bound to both
buffer-flip-forward. The first press puts you into cycling mode,
and subsequent presses cycle forward.
A common operation in my work flow is to switch to the other window
buffer before flipping buffers. That is, I want to keep my current
buffer on top, but I want to get to some buried buffer on the other
buffer-flip-other-window does just that. If there is only
one window, the function will split the window automatically. It's a
pop-to-buffer for buffer-flipping. It can be bound to
its own keystroke, or can be invoked by calling
buffer-flip with a
The (Non) UI
Or, "Why don't you have a screenshot?" This package streamlines the
operation of switching to recent buffers, a common operation in my
workflow. Many buffer management systems display a list of buffer
names for you to select from. Extra ui elements like that often come
at the cost of additional keystrokes. This package doesn't have any
ui elements, it simply changes the current buffer as you cycle. Once
you are looking at the buffer you want, just start editing and the
cycling automatically exits. Pressing the key bound to
buffer-flip-abort during cycling will take you back to where you
The Alt-Tab convention for switching windows was one thing Microsoft got right. Because it keeps the most recently-used things on the top of the stack, it is often very fast to switch to the thing you want. There are similar Emacs packages out there, but many are too heavyweight for my needs, or are not stack-based.
A note on the buffer stack
There is no additional buffer stack maintained by this package. Emacs
already keeps its buffers in a stack, and this package leverages that
fact. You can see the Emacs buffer stack by running
M-x list-buffers or by evaluating