The silver searcher with helm interface
Emacs Lisp Makefile
Latest commit 2fc02c4 Feb 20, 2017 @syohex committed on GitHub Merge pull request #294 from agriffis/patch-1
Don't recommend --vimgrep for rg #293


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helm-ag.el provides interfaces of The Silver Searcher with helm.






helm-ag is available on MELPA and MELPA stable

You can install helm-ag with the following command.

M-x package-install [RET] helm-ag [RET]

Basic Usage


Input search word with ag command. You can change search directory with C-u prefix.


Same as helm-ag except to search only current file


Search with ag like helm-do-grep-ag, helm-grep-do-git-grep. You can specify extra command line option of ag with minus prefix(M-- or C--).

Screen cast of helm-do-ag


Same as helm-do-ag except to search only current file


Call helm-ag at project root. helm-ag seems directory as project root where there is .git or .hg or .svn.


Call helm-do-ag at project root.


Search buffers by helm-ag


Search buffers by helm-do-ag


Move to point before jump


Clear context stack

Enable helm-follow-mode by default

Please set helm-follow-mode-persistent to non-nil if you want to use helm-follow-mode by default. You must set it before loading helm-ag.el.

 '(helm-follow-mode-persistent t))

Persistent action

You can see file content temporarily by persistent action(C-j).

Search Tips of helm-ag

Passing command line options and pattern
Pattern: -Gmd$ search_pattern

Command line options is -Gmd$ and search pattern is search_pattern. helm-ag treats words which starts with - as command line option.

Pattern contains space(helm-do-ag)
Pattern: foo\ bar\ baz

Search pattern is foo\ bar\ baz. You need to escape spaces with backslash.

In helm-ag, you need not to escape spaces.

Pattern starts with -
Pattern: -- --count

Search pattern is --count. helm-ag treats words after -- as search pattern.

Search meta characters as literal

ag(ack, pt) takes Perl compatible PCRE so that you need to escape meta characters likes brackets, braces, asterisk, when you search them as literals.

Use short option

Don't use space between option and its value. For example -tcpp is ok, -t cpp is not ok.

Use long option

Please always use = separator for using long option. Don't use space as separator. For example --ignore=pattern is ok, --ignore pattern is not ok.


helm-ag-base-command(Default: ag --nocolor --nogroup)

Base command of ag. Windows users should set --vimgrep option for using helm-do-ag. See #293

helm-ag-command-option(Default: nil)

Command line option of base command.

helm-ag-insert-at-point(Default: nil)

Insert thing at point as default search pattern, if this value is non nil. You can set the parameter same as thing-at-point(Such as 'word, symbol etc).

helm-ag-fuzzy-match(Default: nil)

Enable fuzzy matching.

helm-ag-use-grep-ignore-list(Default: nil)

Use grep-find-ignored-files and grep-find-ignored-directories as ignore pattern. They are specified to `--ignore' options."

helm-ag-always-set-extra-option(Default: nil)

Always set extra command line option of ag in helm-do-ag if this value is non-nil.

helm-ag-edit-save(Default: t)

Save buffers you edit at editing completed.

helm-ag-use-emacs-lisp-regexp(Default: nil)

Use Emacs Lisp regexp instead of PCRE as pattern. NOTE: this is very simple conversion.

helm-ag-use-agignore(Default: nil)

Use .agignore file at project root if this variable is non nil.

helm-ag-use-temp-buffer(Default: nil)

Use temporary buffer and not open file for persistent action.

helm-ag-ignore-buffer-patterns(Default: nil)

Ignore buffer patterns of buffer search commands.


helm removes file-line type feature from 1.6.9. So helm-ag-source-type is no longer available.


helm-ag-map and helm-do-ag-map are inherited by helm-map.

Key Action
C-c o Open other window
C-l Search in parent directory
C-c C-e Switch to edit mode
C-x C-s Save ag results to buffer(Ask save buffer name if prefix key is specified)
C-c C-f Enable helm-follow-mode
C-c >, right Move to next file
C-c <, left Move to previous file
C-c ? Show help message

Edit mode keymap

Key Action
C-c C-c Commit changes
C-c C-k Abort
C-c C-d Mark delete line
C-c C-u Unmark

You can use next-error and previous-error for seeing file content which current line indicates.

Saved buffer keymap

Key Action
RET Jump to current line posion
C-o Jump to current line posion in other window
g Update result

Sample Configuration

 '(helm-ag-base-command "ag --nocolor --nogroup --ignore-case")
 '(helm-ag-command-option "--all-text")
 '(helm-ag-insert-at-point 'symbol)
 '(helm-ag-ignore-buffer-patterns '("\\.txt\\'" "\\.mkd\\'")))

helm-ag.el with other searching tools

helm-ag.el can work other searching tools like platinum searcher or ack instead of the silver searcher. I think the searching tool which supports grep like output, helm-ag can work with it.

the platinum searcher

 '(helm-ag-base-command "pt -e --nocolor --nogroup"))


 '(helm-ag-base-command "ack --nocolor --nogroup"))


 '(helm-ag-base-command "sift --no-color -n"))


 '(helm-ag-base-command "rg --no-heading"))

NOTE: For pt and rg users

When using ag or ack, helm-do-ag convert pattern from foo bar to "(?=.*" foo ".*)(?=.*" bar ".*)" which pattern matches line which contains both foo and bar. But when using pt or rg, helm-do-ag does not convert the pattern because Golang regexp(pt is written in Golang) and rust's regex (rg is written in rust) does not support look-a-head pattern. So using pt or rg behaves differently from ag when you use such pattern.


ag.el provides M-x grep interface. Also it can work without helm.