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Table of Contents
- Getting Started
- Helm extensions you should install
- Known issues
- Bugs & Improvements
- Getting help
Helm is incremental completion and selection narrowing framework for
Emacs. It will help steer you in the right direction when you're looking
for stuff in Emacs (like buffers, files, etc).
Helm is a fork of
anything.el originally written by Tamas Patrovic
and can be considered to be its successor.
Helm sets out to clean up the legacy code in
and provide a cleaner, leaner and more modular tool, that's not tied in
the trap of backward compatibility.
You need a recent Emacs to use latest helm, at least Emacs-24.3.
async will be installed as dependency when installing from melpa but is facultative when installing from git (recommended though as it may fix installation of all packages from (m)elpa and will allow you to copy/rename asynchronously your files from helm and/or dired if needed).
Quick install from git
helmrepository to some directory:
$ git clone https://github.com/emacs-helm/helm.git /path/to/helm/directory
asyncrepository to some directory (facultative)
$ git clone https://github.com/jwiegley/emacs-async.git /path/to/async/directory
;; [Facultative] Only if you have installed async. (add-to-list 'load-path "/path/to/async/directory") (add-to-list 'load-path "/path/to/helm/directory") (require 'helm-config)
NOTE: Installing helm like this (i.e from git+make) is the safest way.
You can have a quick try to
helm by launching from the helm directory:
It is also recommended to use this when reporting bug.
NOTE: That this will not work on Windows systems.
Install from Emacs packaging system
Helm is now available on Melpa at http://melpa.org/ You will find there instructions to install. See also https://github.com/milkypostman/melpa#usage to startup correctly with the emacs packaging system. Then you should need only in your init file:
WARNING: Due to a bad concept of package.el which is in charge of fetching helm files
and compiling them, users had errors most of the time when upgrading from melpa and
To avoid this Async have been added as dependency to
helm to force package.el compiling its files in a clean environment.
People installing from git and using the make file will not suffer from this problem and don't need
Async though it is recommended as it fix installation
of all other packages you may install with package.el from (m)elpa.
See FAQ for more infos.
Note: After upgrading from the emacs packaging system you should restart emacs for the changes take effect.
Note to Linux Distributions Maintainers
Only the extensions present in the github emacs-helm organisation are supported.
Install and use only helm-core package
Third party helm packages can use only helm-core package if they don't need more helm libraries for their packages. It is available at http://melpa.org/.
All you need to add in your packages is
This will provide the necessary code to build and run helm sources with multiple regexp matching or fuzzy matching.
See wiki for more infos.
Alternate install warning
Some people are installing
helm with their own config using diverses
and other hacks, not using
Expect failures and slowdown at startup unless you really know what you are doing when you do so.
For a minimal helm configuration, run the startup script
and look at the file
The full configuration I use (helm maintainer) can be found here.
Don't hesitate also to visit all helm customizable variables with the customize interface.
helm-mode will give you completion in the diverse customize commands.
Also you will find some packages like Emacs Prelude that have Helm built-in and properly set-up.
M-x helm-M-x RET helm-, you will have completion on all helm commands.
You can bind this to
M-x like this:
(global-set-key (kbd "M-x") 'helm-M-x)
Once you are in the helm session (of
helm-M-x or any one else) you can hit either
C-h m or
C-c ?, the former is will popup a general info buffer about helm while the second will
popup a specialized info of the current source you are into.
C-c ? is not available, in this case you will see in mode-line
C-h m instead of
PLEASE USE and ABUSE of these
helm embeded infos before reporting a bug about how to do things
helm, you will find also useful infos in mode-line.
You can also start with
M-x helm-mode and enjoy helm completion in your favourites
Emacs commands (e.g
C-x C-f, etc...).
You can enable this by adding in your init file:
- NOTE that the helmized emacs commands are different and much more basics than the helm ones.
As a startup point you can also look at the helm section in Emacs menu to discover some of the commands provided by helm.
For those who have a system able to run shell scripts, a convenient way to discover helm
is to run
./emacs-helm.sh from the helm directory, you will find interesting infos in
your scratch buffer.
emacs-helm.sh accept all emacs command line options, see
emacs-helm.sh -h for more
Helm is capable of a lot. Here is a demo of
helm-buffers-list used with
The demo starts when you see
Eval: START in the minibuffer.
- All the C buffers are selected using the regexp
*C. In the demo, I also select Tcl buffers with
*Tcland then switched back to C buffers with
- I only want to have buffers that contains only the string "crash". To do that, I add a space, then add the pattern
- After the initial search pattern, I hand over the current matching buffers to
moccurwith Helm interface. In the above demo, I only switch to one file, that is
kexec.c. However, you can select multiple buffers with
C-SPCor select all buffers with
- Candidates can be filtered gradually by adding more pattern, i.e. I added
memoryto filtered down to buffers that contain the string "memory" among the buffers that are containing "crash".
As you can see, as you filtered out, the number of candidates decreases, as displayed in the modeline. At the end, there were 12 buffers remained as the result of filtering, down from the total 253 buffers.
You can read this guide to quickly get started with Helm.
You can find all the gory details on the Helm Wiki.
Create your own helm source (overview)
Here a quick example using sync method with candidates generated by a simple list, a function can be used instead of course (see helm wiki for more infos).
(helm :sources (helm-build-sync-source "test" :candidates '(foo foa fob bar baz) :fuzzy-match t) :buffer "*helm test*")
Helm has a built-in fuzzy matcher that is activated for some commands. Fuzzy matching is disabled by default. Currently these commands supports fuzzy matching:
helm-recentf: Enable by setting
helm-mini: Enable by setting
helm-buffers-list: Enable by setting
helm-find-files: Enable by default.
helm-locate: Enable by setting
helm-M-x: Enable by setting
helm-semantic: Enable by setting
helm-imenu: Enable by setting
helm-apropos: Enable by setting
helm-lisp-completion-at-point: Enable by setting
You can also enable fuzzy matching globally in all functions helmized by
IMPORTANT: To make fuzzy-matching fast, you must not set
helm-candidate-number-limit too high. It is recommended that you leave the variable with its default value 100. The higher you set
helm-candidate-number-limit, the slower fuzzy-matching will be.
Helm can now resize according to the number of candidates with
You can customize the minimum and maximum height that Helm can resize with these two variables:
helm-autoresize-max-height is set to 40, which makes Helm candidate buffer has the maximum height of 40% of current frame height. Similarly,
helm-autoresize-min-height specifies the minimum height that Helm candidate buffer cannot be smaller.
If you don't want the Helm window to be resized, but a smaller Helm window, you can set
helm-autoresize-max-height equal to
Applications (not exhaustive)
helm-mode: Allow turning on helm in all completions provided by emacs, when available you should use instead the same feature provided natively by helm.
helm-find-files: Replace in one command all the files related commands (Bind it to
helm-buffers-list: Enhanced buffers listing.
helm-browse-project: Show all buffers and files related to project or current directory (Usable everywhere with
helm-find-files) you will want to install helm-ls-git and helm-ls-hg for a better experience.
helm-dabbrev: Enhanced dabbrev with helm completion (Own implementation of dabbrev for helm, don't reuse emacs code).
helm-moccur: Enhanced occur for one or more buffers, launch it from
helm-M-x: Enhanced version of
execute-extended-command(Bind it to
helm-imenu-in-all-buffers: Imenu in
current-bufferor in all your buffers.
helm-etags-select: Enhanced version of etags with helm-completion (Usable everywhere with
helm-apropos: Description of functions, variables, etc... Use it instead of Most
Grep: You can launch it (recursively or not) from any files related helm commands, support as backends
helm-gid: Helm interface to
helm-show-kill-ring: A kill ring browser for helm.
helm-all-mark-rings: A mark ring for helm, allow retrieving your last position(s) in a buffer.
helm-filtered-bookmarks: An enhanced bookmark listing.
helm-list-elisp-packages: Manage emacs packages with helm.
Helm extensions you should install
Warning You will find many extensions outside of emacs-helm
that provide nothing more than what is provided natively by helm and may not be in sync will
So generally prefer what is provided natively in
helm instead of its counterpart provided externally.
Check out the project's issue list a list of unresolved issues. By the way - feel free to fix any of them and send us a pull request. :-)
Here's a list of all the people who have contributed to the development of Helm.
Bugs & Improvements
Bug reports and suggestions for improvements are always welcome, be sure though they are related to helm, many bugs are coming from emacs itself or other packages. GitHub pull requests are even better! :-)
NOTE: When trying if something is working or not, be sure to start helm from
Emacs -Q or even better
Start it from your helm directory with
If Helm Wiki is not enough, you can ask for help on emacs-helm google group.
The Helm Team