1 :after

Sometimes it only makes sense to configure a package after another has been loaded, because certain variables or functions are not in scope until that time. This can achieved using an :after keyword that allows a fairly rich description of the exact conditions when loading should occur. Here is an example:

(use-package hydra
  :load-path "site-lisp/hydra")

(use-package ivy
  :load-path "site-lisp/swiper")

(use-package ivy-hydra
  :after (ivy hydra))

In this case, because all of these packages are demand-loaded in the order they occur, the use of :after is not strictly necessary. By using it, however, the above code becomes order-independent, without an implicit depedence on the nature of your init file.

By default, :after (foo bar) is the same as :after (:all foo bar), meaning that loading of the given package will not happen until both foo and bar have been loaded. Here are some of the other possibilities:

:after (foo bar)
:after (:all foo bar)
:after (:any foo bar)
:after (:all (:any foo bar) (:any baz quux))
:after (:any (:all foo bar) (:all baz quux))

When you nest selectors, such as (:any (:all foo bar) (:all baz quux)), it means that the package will be loaded when either both foo and bar have been loaded, or both baz and quux have been loaded.

NOTE: Pay attention if you set use-package-always-defer to t, and also use the :after keyword, as you will need to specify how the declared package is to be loaded: e.g., by some :bind. If you’re not using one of tho mechanisms that registers autoloads, such as :bind or :hook, and your package manager does not provide autoloads, it’s possible that without adding :demand t to those declarations, your package will never be loaded.

2 :bind-keymap, :bind-keymap*

Normally :bind expects that commands are functions that will be autoloaded from the given package. However, this does not work if one of those commands is actually a keymap, since keymaps are not functions, and cannot be autoloaded using Emacs’ autoload mechanism.

To handle this case, use-package offers a special, limited variant of :bind called :bind-keymap. The only difference is that the “commands” bound to by :bind-keymap must be keymaps defined in the package, rather than command functions. This is handled behind the scenes by generating custom code that loads the package containing the keymap, and then re-executes your keypress after the first load, to reinterpret that keypress as a prefix key.

For example:

(use-package projectile
  ("C-c p" . projectile-command-map)

3 :bind, :bind*

Another common thing to do when loading a module is to bind a key to primary commands within that module:

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :bind ("C-." . ace-jump-mode))

This does two things: first, it creates an autoload for the ace-jump-mode command and defers loading of ace-jump-mode until you actually use it. Second, it binds the key C-. to that command. After loading, you can use M-x describe-personal-keybindings to see all such keybindings you’ve set throughout your .emacs file.

A more literal way to do the exact same thing is:

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :commands ace-jump-mode
  (bind-key "C-." 'ace-jump-mode))

When you use the :commands keyword, it creates autoloads for those commands and defers loading of the module until they are used. Since the :init form is always run—even if ace-jump-mode might not be on your system—remember to restrict :init code to only what would succeed either way.

The :bind keyword takes either a cons or a list of conses:

(use-package hi-lock
  :bind (("M-o l" . highlight-lines-matching-regexp)
         ("M-o r" . highlight-regexp)
         ("M-o w" . highlight-phrase)))

The :commands keyword likewise takes either a symbol or a list of symbols.

NOTE: Special keys like tab or F1-Fn can be written in square brackets, i.e. [tab] instead of "tab". The syntax for the keybindings is similar to the “kbd” syntax: see the Emacs Manual for more information.


(use-package helm
  :bind (("M-x" . helm-M-x)
         ("M-<f5>" . helm-find-files)
         ([f10] . helm-buffers-list)
         ([S-f10] . helm-recentf)))

3.1 Binding to local keymaps

Slightly different from binding a key to a keymap, is binding a key within a local keymap that only exists after the package is loaded. use-package supports this with a :map modifier, taking the local keymap to bind to:

(use-package helm
  :bind (:map helm-command-map
         ("C-c h" . helm-execute-persistent-action)))

The effect of this statement is to wait until helm has loaded, and then to bind the key C-c h to helm-execute-persistent-action within Helm’s local keymap, helm-mode-map.

Multiple uses of :map may be specified. Any binding occurring before the first use of :map are applied to the global keymap:

(use-package term
  :bind (("C-c t" . term)
         :map term-mode-map
         ("M-p" . term-send-up)
         ("M-n" . term-send-down)
         :map term-raw-map
         ("M-o" . other-window)
         ("M-p" . term-send-up)
         ("M-n" . term-send-down)))

4 :commands

5 :preface, :init, :config

Here is the simplest use-package declaration:

;; This is only needed once, near the top of the file
  ;; Following line is not needed if use-package.el is in ~/.emacs.d
  (add-to-list 'load-path "<path where use-package is installed>")
  (require 'use-package))

(use-package foo)

This loads in the package foo, but only if foo is available on your system. If not, a warning is logged to the *Messages* buffer. If it succeeds, a message about "Loading foo" is logged, along with the time it took to load, if it took over 0.1 seconds.

Use the :init keyword to execute code before a package is loaded. It accepts one or more forms, up until the next keyword:

(use-package foo
  (setq foo-variable t))

Similarly, :config can be used to execute code after a package is loaded. In cases where loading is done lazily (see more about autoloading below), this execution is deferred until after the autoload occurs:

(use-package foo
  (setq foo-variable t)
  (foo-mode 1))

As you might expect, you can use :init and :config together:

(use-package color-moccur
  :commands (isearch-moccur isearch-all)
  :bind (("M-s O" . moccur)
         :map isearch-mode-map
         ("M-o" . isearch-moccur)
         ("M-O" . isearch-moccur-all))
  (setq isearch-lazy-highlight t)
  (use-package moccur-edit))

In this case, I want to autoload the commands isearch-moccur and isearch-all from color-moccur.el, and bind keys both at the global level and within the isearch-mode-map (see next section). When the package is actually loaded (by using one of these commands), moccur-edit is also loaded, to allow editing of the moccur buffer.

6 :custom

The :custom keyword allows customization of package custom variables.

(use-package comint
  (comint-buffer-maximum-size 20000 "Increase comint buffer size.")
  (comint-prompt-read-only t "Make the prompt read only."))

The documentation string is not mandatory.

7 :custom-face

The :custom-face keyword allows customization of package custom faces.

(use-package eruby-mode
  (eruby-standard-face ((t (:slant italic)))))

8 :defer, :demand

In almost all cases you don’t need to manually specify :defer t. This is implied whenever :bind or :mode or :interpreter is used. Typically, you only need to specify :defer if you know for a fact that some other package will do something to cause your package to load at the appropriate time, and thus you would like to defer loading even though use-package isn’t creating any autoloads for you.

You can override package deferral with the :demand keyword. Thus, even if you use :bind, using :demand will force loading to occur immediately and not establish an autoload for the bound key.

9 :defines, :functions

Another feature of use-package is that it always loads every file that it can when .emacs is being byte-compiled. This helps to silence spurious warnings about unknown variables and functions.

However, there are times when this is just not enough. For those times, use the :defines and :functions keywords to introduce dummy variable and function declarations solely for the sake of the byte-compiler:

(use-package texinfo
  :defines texinfo-section-list
  :commands texinfo-mode
  (add-to-list 'auto-mode-alist '("\\.texi$" . texinfo-mode)))

If you need to silence a missing function warning, you can use :functions:

(use-package ruby-mode
  :mode "\\.rb\\'"
  :interpreter "ruby"
  :functions inf-ruby-keys
  (defun my-ruby-mode-hook ()
    (require 'inf-ruby)

  (add-hook 'ruby-mode-hook 'my-ruby-mode-hook))

10 :diminish, :delight

use-package also provides built-in support for the diminish and delight utilities—if you have them installed. Their purpose is to remove or change minor mode strings in your mode-line.

diminish is invoked with the :diminish keyword, which is passed either a minor mode symbol, a cons of the symbol and its replacement string, or just a replacement string, in which case the minor mode symbol is guessed to be the package name with “-mode” appended at the end:

(use-package abbrev
  :diminish abbrev-mode
  (if (file-exists-p abbrev-file-name)

delight is invoked with the :delight keyword, which is passed a minor mode symbol, a replacement string or quoted mode-line data (in which case the minor mode symbol is guessed to be the package name with “-mode” appended at the end), both of these, or several lists of both. If no arguments are provided, the default mode name is hidden completely.

;; Don't show anything for rainbow-mode.
(use-package rainbow-mode

;; Don't show anything for auto-revert-mode, which doesn't match
;; its package name.
(use-package autorevert
  :delight auto-revert-mode)

;; Remove the mode name for projectile-mode, but show the project name.
(use-package projectile
  :delight '(:eval (concat " " (projectile-project-name))))

;; Completely hide visual-line-mode and change auto-fill-mode to " AF".
(use-package emacs
  (auto-fill-function " AF")

11 :disabled

The :disabled keyword can turn off a module you’re having difficulties with, or stop loading something you’re not using at the present time:

(use-package ess-site
  :commands R)

When byte-compiling your .emacs file, disabled declarations are omitted from the output entirely, to accelerate startup times.

12 :ensure, :pin

You can use use-package to load packages from ELPA with package.el. This is particularly useful if you share your .emacs among several machines; the relevant packages are downloaded automatically once declared in your .emacs. The :ensure keyword causes the package(s) to be installed automatically if not already present on your system (set (setq use-package-always-ensure t) if you wish this behavior to be global for all packages):

(use-package magit
  :ensure t)

If you need to install a different package from the one named by use-package, you can specify it like this:

(use-package tex
  :ensure auctex)

Lastly, when running on Emacs 24.4 or later, use-package can pin a package to a specific archive, allowing you to mix and match packages from different archives. The primary use-case for this is preferring packages from the melpa-stable and gnu archives, but using specific packages from melpa when you need to track newer versions than what is available in the stable archives is also a valid use-case.

By default package.el prefers melpa over melpa-stable due to the versioning (> evil-20141208.623 evil-1.0.9), so even if you are tracking only a single package from melpa, you will need to tag all the non-melpa packages with the appropriate archive. If this really annoys you, then you can set use-package-always-pin to set a default.

If you want to manually keep a package updated and ignore upstream updates, you can pin it to manual, which as long as there is no repository by that name, will Just Work™.

use-package throws an error if you try to pin a package to an archive that has not been configured using package-archives (apart from the magic manual archive mentioned above):

Archive 'foo' requested for package 'bar' is not available.


(use-package company
  :ensure t
  :pin melpa-stable)

(use-package evil
  :ensure t)
  ;; no :pin needed, as package.el will choose the version in melpa

(use-package adaptive-wrap
  :ensure t
  ;; as this package is available only in the gnu archive, this is
  ;; technically not needed, but it helps to highlight where it
  ;; comes from
  :pin gnu)

(use-package org
  :ensure t
  ;; ignore org-mode from upstream and use a manually installed version
  :pin manual)

NOTE: the :pin argument has no effect on emacs versions < 24.4.

13 :hook

The :hook keyword allows adding functions onto hooks, here only the basename of the hook is required. Thus, all of the following are equivalent:

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :hook prog-mode)

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :hook (prog-mode . ace-jump-mode))

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :commands ace-jump-mode
  (add-hook 'prog-mode-hook #'ace-jump-mode))

And likewise, when multiple hooks should be applied, the following are also equivalent:

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :hook (prog-mode text-mode))

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :hook ((prog-mode text-mode) . ace-jump-mode))

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :hook ((prog-mode . ace-jump-mode)
         (text-mode . ace-jump-mode)))

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :commands ace-jump-mode
  (add-hook 'prog-mode-hook #'ace-jump-mode)
  (add-hook 'text-mode-hook #'ace-jump-mode))

The use of :hook, as with :bind, :mode, :interpreter, etc., causes the functions being hooked to implicitly be read as :commands (meaning they will establish interactive autoload definitions for that module, if not already defined as functions), and so :defer t is also implied by :hook.

14 :if, :when, :unless

You can use the :if keyword to predicate the loading and initialization of modules.

For example, I only want edit-server running for my main, graphical Emacs, not for other Emacsen I may start at the command line:

(use-package edit-server
  :if window-system
  (add-hook 'after-init-hook 'server-start t)
  (add-hook 'after-init-hook 'edit-server-start t))

In another example, we can load things conditional on the operating system:

(use-package exec-path-from-shell
  :if (memq window-system '(mac ns))
  :ensure t

Note that :when is provided as an alias for :if, and :unless foo means the same thing as :if (not foo).

15 :load-path

If your package needs a directory added to the load-path in order to load, use :load-path. This takes a symbol, a function, a string or a list of strings. If the path is relative, it is expanded within user-emacs-directory:

(use-package ess-site
  :load-path "site-lisp/ess/lisp/"
  :commands R)

Note that when using a symbol or a function to provide a dynamically generated list of paths, you must inform the byte-compiler of this definition so the value is available at byte-compilation time. This is done by using the special form eval-and-compile (as opposed to eval-when-compile). Further, this value is fixed at whatever was determined during compilation, to avoid looking up the same information again on each startup:

  (defun ess-site-load-path ()
    (shell-command "find ~ -path ess/lisp")))

(use-package ess-site
  :load-path (lambda () (list (ess-site-load-path)))
  :commands R)

16 :mode, :interpreter

Similar to :bind, you can use :mode and :interpreter to establish a deferred binding within the auto-mode-alist and interpreter-mode-alist variables. The specifier to either keyword can be a cons cell, a list of cons cells, or a string or regexp:

(use-package ruby-mode
  :mode "\\.rb\\'"
  :interpreter "ruby")

;; The package is "python" but the mode is "python-mode":
(use-package python
  :mode ("\\.py\\'" . python-mode)
  :interpreter ("python" . python-mode))

If you aren’t using :commands, :bind, :bind*, :bind-keymap, :bind-keymap*, :mode, or :interpreter (all of which imply :defer; see the docstring for use-package for a brief description of each), you can still defer loading with the :defer keyword:

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :defer t
  (autoload 'ace-jump-mode "ace-jump-mode" nil t)
  (bind-key "C-." 'ace-jump-mode))

This does exactly the same thing as the following:

(use-package ace-jump-mode
  :bind ("C-." . ace-jump-mode))

17 :magic, :magic-fallback

Similar to :mode and :interpreter, you can also use :magic and :magic-fallback to cause certain function to be run if the beginning of a file matches a given regular expression. The difference between the two is that :magic-fallback has a lower priority than :mode. For example:

(use-package pdf-tools
  :load-path "site-lisp/pdf-tools/lisp"
  :magic ("%PDF" . pdf-view-mode)

This registers an autoloaded command for pdf-view-mode, defers loading of pdf-tools, and runs pdf-view-mode if the beginning of a buffer matches the string "%PDF".

18 :no-require

Normally, use-package will load each package at compile time before compiling the configuration, to ensure that any necessary symbols are in scope to satisfy the byte-compiler. At times this can cause problems, since a package may have special loading requirements, and all that you want to use use-package for is to add a configuration to the eval-after-load hook. In such cases, use the :no-require keyword:

(use-package foo
  :no-require t
  (message "This is evaluated when `foo' is loaded"))

19 :requires

While the :after keyword delays loading until the dependencies are loaded, the somewhat simpler :requires keyword simply never loads the package if the dependencies are not available at the time the use-package declaration is encountered. By “available” in this context it means that foo is available of (featurep 'foo) evaulates to a non-nil value. For example:

(use-package abbrev
  :requires foo)

This is the same as:

(use-package abbrev
  :if (featurep 'foo))

As a convenience, a list of such packages may be specified:

(use-package abbrev
  :requires (foo bar baz))

For more complex logic, such as that supported by :after, simply use :if and the appropriate Lisp expression.