Elfeed Emacs Web Feed Reader
For a longer overview,
- Introducing Elfeed, an Emacs Web Feed Reader.
- Tips and Tricks
- Read your RSS feeds in Emacs with Elfeed
- Scoring Elfeed articles
- Using Emacs 29
- ... more ...
- ... and more ...
The database format is stable and is never expected to change.
It is strongly recommended you have cURL installed, either in
your PATH or configured via
elfeed-curl-program-name. Elfeed will
prefer it to Emacs' own URL-fetching mechanism,
also essential for running Elfeed on Windows, where
broken. Updates using cURL are significantly faster than the built-in
method, both for you and the feed hosts.
If this is giving you problems, fetching with cURL can be disabled by
elfeed-use-curl to nil.
These projects extend Elfeed with additional features:
Elfeed is broken into a multiple source files, so if you manually
install it you will need to add the Elfeed package directory to your
load-path. If installed via package.el or el-get, this will be done
It is recommended that you make a global binding for
(global-set-key (kbd "C-x w") 'elfeed)
Running the interactive function
elfeed will pop up the
*elfeed-search* buffer, which will display feed items.
- g: refresh view of the feed listing
- G: fetch feed updates from the servers
- s: update the search filter (see tags)
This buffer will be empty until you add your feeds to the
elfeed-feeds list and initiate an update with
(or G in the Elfeed buffer). This will populate the Elfeed
database with entries.
;; Somewhere in your .emacs file (setq elfeed-feeds '("http://nullprogram.com/feed/" "http://planet.emacsen.org/atom.xml"))
Another option for providing a feel list is with an OPML file. Running
M-x elfeed-load-opml will fill
elfeed-feeds with feeds listed in
an OPML file. When
elfeed-load-opml is called interactively, it will
automatically save the feedlist to your customization file, so you
will only need to do this once.
If there are a lot of feeds, the initial update will take noticeably
longer than normal operation because of the large amount of
information being written the database. Future updates will only need
to write new or changed data. If updating feeds slows down Emacs too
much for you, reduce the number of concurrent fetches via
If you're getting many "Queue timeout exceeded" errors, increase the
fetch timeout via
(setf url-queue-timeout 30)
From the search buffer there are a number of ways to interact with entries. Entries are selected by placing the point over an entry. Multiple entries are selected at once by using an active region.
- RET: view selected entry in a buffer
- b: open selected entries in your browser (
- y: copy selected entries URL to the clipboard
- r: mark selected entries as read
- u: mark selected entries as unread
- +: add a specific tag to selected entries
- -: remove a specific tag from selected entries
Elfeed maintains a list of arbitrary tags -- symbols attached to an
entry. The tag
unread is treated specially by default, with unread
entries appearing in bold.
Tags can automatically be applied to entries discovered in specific
feeds through extra syntax in
elfeed-feeds. Normally this is a list
of strings, but an item can also be a list, providing set of
"autotags" for a feed's entries.
(setq elfeed-feeds '(("http://nullprogram.com/feed/" blog emacs) "http://www.50ply.com/atom.xml" ; no autotagging ("http://nedroid.com/feed/" webcomic)))
To make tags useful, the Elfeed entry listing buffer can be filtered
by tags. Use
elfeed-search-set-filter (or s) to update
Any component of the search string beginning with a
- is treated like a tag.
+ means the tag is required,
the tag must not be present.
A component beginning with a
@ indicates an age. Entries older than
this age are filtered out. The age description accepts plain English,
but cannot have spaces, so use dashes. For example,
"@3-days-ago". The database is date-oriented, so filters that
include an age restriction are significantly more efficient.
A component beginning with a
! is treated as an "inverse" regular
expression. This means that any entry matching this regular expression
will be filtered out. The regular expression begins after the
character. You can read this as "entry not matching
A component beginning with a
# limits the total number of entries
displayed to the number immediately following the symbol. For example,
to limit the display to 20 entries:
All other components are treated as a regular expression, which means only entries matching this will be shown.
Here are some example filters.
Only show unread entries of the last six months. This is the default filter.
Only show entries about Linux or Linus from the last year.
-unread +youtube #10
Only show the most recent 10 previously-read entries tagged as
Only show unread entries not having
xemacs in the title
Default Search Filter
You can set your default search filter by changing the default value
elfeed-search-filter. It only changes buffer-locally when you're
adjusting the filter within Elfeed. For example, some users prefer to
have a space on the end for easier quick searching.
(setq-default elfeed-search-filter "@1-week-ago +unread ")
The last example assumes you've tagged posts with
probably want to do this sort of thing automatically, either through
the "autotags" feature mentioned above, or with the
elfeed-new-entry-hook. Functions in this hook are called with new
entries, allowing them to be manipulated, such as adding tags.
;; Mark all YouTube entries (add-hook 'elfeed-new-entry-hook (elfeed-make-tagger :feed-url "youtube\\.com" :add '(video youtube)))
Avoiding tagging old entries as
;; Entries older than 2 weeks are marked as read (add-hook 'elfeed-new-entry-hook (elfeed-make-tagger :before "2 weeks ago" :remove 'unread))
Or building your own subset feeds:
(add-hook 'elfeed-new-entry-hook (elfeed-make-tagger :feed-url "example\\.com" :entry-title '(not "something interesting") :add 'junk :remove 'unread))
M-x elfeed-apply-hooks-now to apply
all existing entries. Otherwise hooks will only apply to new entries
Custom Tag Faces
By default, entries marked
unread will have bolded titles in the
*elfeed-search* listing. You can customize how tags affect an
entry's appearance by customizing
example, this configuration makes entries tagged
important stand out
(defface important-elfeed-entry '((t :foreground "#f77")) "Marks an important Elfeed entry.") (push '(important important-elfeed-entry) elfeed-search-face-alist)
All faces from all tags will be applied to the entry title. The faces
will be ordered as they appear in
Filters can be saved and restored using Emacs' built-in bookmarks
feature. While in the search buffer, use
M-x bookmark-set to
save the current filter, and
M-x bookmark-jump to restore a saved
filter. Emacs automatically persists bookmarks across sessions.
All feed and entry objects have plist where you can store your own
arbitrary, readable values. These values are automatically
persisteted in the database. This metadata is accessed using the
elfeed-meta function. It's setf-able.
(setf (elfeed-meta entry :rating) 4) (elfeed-meta entry :rating) ;; => 4 (setf (elfeed-meta feed :title) "My Better Title")
Elfeed itself adds some entries to this plist, some for your use, some for its own use. Here are the properties that Elfeed uses:
:author: The entry's author of this entry.
:canonical-url: The final URL for the feed after all redirects.
:categories: The feed-supplied categories for this entry.
:etag: HTTP Etag header, for conditional GETs.
:failures: Number of times this feed has failed to update.
:last-modified: HTTP Last-Modified header, for conditional GETs.
:title: Overrides the feed-supplied title for display purposes, both for feeds and entries. See also
This list will grow in time, so you might consider namespacing your
own properties to avoid collisions (e.g.
:xyz/rating), or simply not
using keywords as keys. Elfeed will always use keywords without a
A number of hooks are available to customize the behavior of Elfeed at key points without resorting to advice.
elfeed-new-entry-hook: Called each time a new entry it added to the database, allowing for automating tagging and such.
elfeed-new-entry-parse-hook: Called with each new entry and the full XML structure from which it was parsed, allowing for additional information to be drawn from the original feed XML.
elfeed-http-error-hooks: Allows for special behavior when HTTP errors occur, beyond simply logging the error to
elfeed-parse-error-hooks: Allows for special behavior when feed parsing fails, beyond logging.
elfeed-db-update-hook: Called any time the database has had a major modification.
Entries are viewed locally in Emacs by typing
RET while over an
entry in the search listing. The content will be displayed in a
separate buffer using
elfeed-show-mode, rendered using Emacs'
built-in shr package. This requires an Emacs compiled with
bindings, which provides the necessary HTML parser.
Sometimes displaying images can slow down or even crash Emacs. Set
shr-inhibit-images to disable images if this is a problem.
Elfeed includes a demonstration/toy web interface for remote network
access. It's a single-page web application that follows the database
live as new entries arrive. It's packaged separately as
To fire it up, run
M-x elfeed-web-start and visit
http://localhost:8080/elfeed/ (check your
httpd-port) with a
browser. See the
elfeed-web.el header for endpoint documentation if
you'd like to access the Elfeed database through the web API.
It's rough and unfinished -- no keyboard shortcuts, read-only, no authentication, and a narrow entry viewer. This is basically Elfeed's "mobile" interface. Patches welcome.
Summary: Install cURL and most problems disappear for all platforms.
I personally only use Elfeed on Linux, but it's occasionally tested on
Windows. Unfortunately the Windows port of Emacs is a bit too unstable
for parallel feed downloads with
url-retrieve, not to mention the
tiny, hard-coded, 512 open descriptor limitation, so it
limits itself to one feed at a time on this platform.
If you fetch HTTPS feeds without cURL on any platform, it's
essential that Emacs is built with the
Otherwise Emacs runs gnutls in an inferior process, which rarely works
The database should keep itself under control without any manual
intervention, but steps can be taken to minimize the database size if
desired. The simplest option is to run the
command, which will pack the loose-file content database into a single
compressed file. This function works well in
Going further, a function could be added to
strip unwanted/unneeded content from select entries before being
stored in the database. For example, for YouTube videos only the entry
link is of interest and the regularly-changing entry content could be
tossed to save time and storage.
Status and Roadmap
Elfeed is to the point where it can serve 100% of my own web feed needs. My personal selection of about 150 feeds has been acting as my test case as I optimize and add features.
Some things I still might want to add:
- Database synchronization between computers
- Parallel feed fetching via separate Emacs subprocesses
As far as I know, outside of Elfeed there does not exist an extensible, text-file configured, power-user web feed client that can handle a reasonable number of feeds. The existing clients I've tried are missing some important capability that limits its usefulness to me.