License GPL 3 MELPA MELPA Stable

Emacs-helm

Emacs-helm

Maintainance of Helm is a lot of work that I do freely on my sparse time,

please Donate to help this project,

or Support via Gratipay

Table of Contents

Introduction

Helm is an Emacs framework for incremental completions and narrowing selections. It helps to rapidly complete file names, buffer names, or any other Emacs interactions requiring selecting an item from a list of possible choices.

Helm is a fork of anything.el, which was originally written by Tamas Patrovic and can be considered to be its successor. Helm cleans the legacy code that is leaner, modular, and unchained from constraints of backward compatibility.

Requirements

Helm requires Emacs-24.4 or later versions.

Helm installs async package as a dependency when Helm is installed using MELPA.

Helm installation from the git source repository does not include async. The async package is recommended for smooth asynchronous file and dired operations in Helm.

Getting Started

Quick install from git

  1. Clone the helm repository to some directory:

    $ git clone https://github.com/emacs-helm/helm.git /path/to/helm/directory
  2. Clone the async repository to some directory (facultative)

    $ git clone https://github.com/jwiegley/emacs-async.git /path/to/async/directory
  3. Run make from the helm directory.

  4. Add to .emacs.el (or equivalent):

    ;; If async is installed
    (add-to-list 'load-path "/path/to/async/directory")
    
    (add-to-list 'load-path "/path/to/helm/directory")
    (require 'helm-config)

NOTE: Installing helm using git and make is the safest way.

To quickly run helm, launch this script from helm directory:

./emacs-helm.sh

Also use the same script above for bug reporting.

NOTE: This script does not work on Windows systems.

Install from Emacs packaging system

Helm can also be installed from MELPA repository at http://melpa.org/. You will find the instructions to install packages from MELPA here.

No further configuration is necessary to run helm other than perhaps a one-line entry in the Emacs init file:

(require 'helm-config)

WARNING: Helm upgrades from MELPA repository encountered errors because of the way package.el fetched and compiled updates for existing packages. To get around these errors, Helm adds Async as a dependency package install. Async forces compilation in a clean environment, which solves those compilation errors. Since async has other benefits as well, both for Helm and other packages, we recommend installing async even for Helm installs using git. See FAQ for details.

Note: Restart Emacs for Helm updates from MELPA repositories to take effect.

Note to Linux Distributions Maintainers

Only the extensions in the github emacs-helm repository are supported.

Debian and Ubuntu

Users of Debian 9 or later or Ubuntu 16.04 or later may simply apt-get install elpa-helm (or apt-get install elpa-helm-core; see below).

Installing just the helm-core package

helm-core package is available on MELPA for third party packages that depend on helm libraries. These packages should require helm as follows:

 (require 'helm)

Requiring helm builds and runs helm code necessary for multiple regexp and fuzzy matching. See helm wiki for details.

Warning about alternate installation methods

Installation methods that circumvent helm-config are known to fail if the careful safeguards are not implemented in the hacks.

Configuration

For minimal helm configuration, run the start-up script ./emacs-helm.sh and then see the file /tmp/helm-cfg.el.

The full configuration I (the helm maintainer) use is here.

Also see helm customizable variables with the customize interface.

Enabling helm-mode will enable helm for many features of emacs requiring completions, see below how to enable helm-mode.

Basic usage

M-x helm-M-x RET helm- lists helm commands ready for narrowing and selecting.

To bind to M-x:

(global-set-key (kbd "M-x") 'helm-M-x)

In any helm session (after helm-M-x or helm- command)

C-h m pops a general info buffer about helm

C-c ? pops a special info buffer of the current helm command

Not all helm commands have specialized info buffers. Look for C-c ? in the mode-line. C-h m is shown for any command that does not have a specialized info buffer.

Use these embedded Info screens first before reporting bugs.

M-x helm-mode to enable helm completion for common Emacs commands (e.g M-x, C-x C-f, etc...). Note that the helm functionality enabled through helm-mode comes from a generic implementation and does not include all helm features available through equivalent helm-specific commands. For example, helm-M-x has more features than helm completion through M-x.

To make helm-mode start with Emacs init file:

(helm-mode 1)

To discover helm commands, look at helm menu item in Emacs menu.

Another way to discover helm commands: run the shell script: ./emacs-helm.sh and then look in the scratch buffer. emacs-helm.sh accepts emacs command line options. emacs-helm.sh -h opens an Info screen with more details.

Advanced usage

Helm contains many features, some of which are easier to follow visually. Here is a demo of helm-buffers-list used with helm-moccur. Demo starts with Eval: START in the minibuffer.

helm-buffers-list

With more pattern matching, candidates are narrowed down from the initial 253 buffers to 12 as shown in the modeline.

Helm guide and Helm Wiki provide additional details.

Matching methods

Helm support by default multi pattern matching, it is the standard way of matching in helm. E.g You can use a pattern like "foo bar" to match a line containing "foo" and "bar" or "bar" and "foo". Each pattern can be a regexp.

In addition helm support fuzzy matching.

Creating custom helm sources

An example:

(helm :sources (helm-build-sync-source "test"
                 :candidates '(foo foa fob bar baz)
                 :fuzzy-match t)
      :buffer "*helm test*")

The candidates list may be replaced by a function that produces a list. See (helm wiki) for details.

Helm Applications

These are popular applications developed using helm completion and narrowing framework. They are available for individual installs through the Emacs package manager. This list is not exhaustive.

Recommended Helm extensions

Warning Helm development has sparked quite a few extensions, many of which duplicate features already included in helm. Some of these packages (about 20 at last count in the MELPA repository) are either deprecated or unmaintained. Moreover, many remain out-of-sync with helm core development cycles causing incompatibilities. To avoid helm problems or unstable emacs, please look for comparable features within helm and emacs-helm before installing such extensions.

Known issues

The Helm project has a current unresolved issue list. Please feel free to fix any of them; send a pull request.

Contributors

The Helm project maintains a list of contributors.

Bugs & Improvements

The Helm Team welcomes bug reports and suggestions. Note that not all bugs when using Helm are due to Helm. Because of the way Helm interacts with many Emacs features, bugs may be related to Emacs itself.

One way to ascertain that the bugs are helm-related, recreate the error either by using Emacs -Q or by running the included package script ./emacs-helm.sh located in the helm directory.

Getting help

Helm Wiki and emacs-helm Google group are two readily available locations.

Cheers,
The Helm Team