Replace GUI popup menu in Emacs with something more efficient
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Ace Popup Menu

License GPL 3 MELPA Build Status

Ace Popup Menu

This package allows to replace the GUI popup menu (created by x-popup-menu by default) with a little temporary window (like the one in which Dired shows you files you want to copy). In this window, menu items are displayed and labeled with one or two letters. You press a key corresponding to desired choice (or C-g if you wish to cancel the operation) and you are done.


Download this package and place it somewhere, so Emacs can see it. Then put (require 'ace-popup-menu) into your configuration file. Done!

It's available via MELPA, so you can just M-x package-install RET ace-popup-menu RET.


In order to replace the standard behavior of x-popup-menu, activate ace-popup-menu-mode in your configuration file, like this:

(ace-popup-menu-mode 1)

You can toggle/activate it either interactively or via Lisp. The mode follows all usual Emacs Lisp conventions for minor modes, except it's always global (because it doesn't make any sense to replace behavior of x-popup-menu only in a specific buffer). See the documentation for ace-popup-menu-mode for more information.

You can use the enhanced menu directly via ace-popup-menu too. To use it you don't need to enable the minor mode. See documentation of the function for detailed information.

With Flyspell

A popular use case for this package is in conjunction with Flyspell. I personally use the following function for quick correction of misspellings:

(defun mk-flyspell-correct-previous (&optional words)
  "Correct word before point, reach distant words.

WORDS words at maximum are traversed backward until misspelled
word is found.  If it's not found, give up.  If argument WORDS is
not specified, traverse 12 words by default.

Return T if misspelled word is found and NIL otherwise.  Never
move point."
  (interactive "P")
  (let* ((Δ (- (point-max) (point)))
         (counter (string-to-number (or words "12")))
          (catch 'result
            (while (>= counter 0)
              (when (cl-some #'flyspell-overlay-p
                             (overlays-at (point)))
                (throw 'result t))
              (backward-word 1)
              (setq counter (1- counter))
    (goto-char (- (point-max) Δ))

It works nicely with ace-popup-menu-mode enabled.


You can ask Ace Popup Menu to show headers of individual panes (they are not shown in the original GUI popup menu):

(setq ace-popup-menu-show-pane-header t)

This variable can be changed via the “customize” interface as well.

This package is built on top of avy-menu, see its customization settings if you wish to change appearance of the menu itself.


Here is something you may want to know:

  • The original x-popup-menu can take menu argument in the form of a keymap or list of keymaps. This is currently not supported. If you run into a situation when this breaks something, please open an issue. Describe how to reproduce your problem and I'll try to fix it.

  • Some packages, such as flyspell, may test if they work under X-window system and refuse to call x-popup-menu if they think it's unavailable. There is nothing I can do about it, so it may be hard to use Ace Popup Menu in terminal, even though it's perfectly capable of functioning there.

  • Currently only horizontal format of menu items is available. This is because it's much easier to implement. This should not be a problem, though.


Copyright © 2015–2018 Mark Karpov

Distributed under GNU GPL, version 3.