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eyebrowse: A simple-minded way of managing window configs in Emacs


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29705 eyebrowse.el


eyebrowse is a global minor mode for Emacs that allows you to manage your window configurations in a simple manner, just like tiling window managers like i3wm with their workspaces do. It displays their current state in the modeline by default. The behaviour is modeled after ranger, a file manager written in Python.


See the lighter and the modeline indicator at the right side of the bottom modeline? That's what you get to see after enabling eyebrowse.


Install via package.el from the MELPA (stable) repository by setting them up if you haven't already and executing M-x package-install RET eyebrowse RET.

Quick Tutorial

Use M-x eyebrowse-mode to enable eyebrowse interactively. If you want to enable it automatically on startup, add (eyebrowse-mode t) to your init file (either ~/.emacs or ~/.emacs.d/init.el).

You start with your current window config on slot 1. Once you hit C-c C-w 2, you will see the modeline indicator appearing and showing slot 1 and 2 with slot 2 slightly emphasized. Slot 1 has been saved automatically for you and contains your last window config. Do something meaningful like a window split, then hit C-c C-w 1. The window config on slot 2 is saved and the window config from slot 1 is loaded. Try switching back and forth between them with C-c C-w ' to get a feeling for how subsequent window manipulations are handled.

To make keeping track of workspaces easier, a tagging feature was added. Use C-c C-w , to set a tag for the current window config, it will both appear in the modeline indicator and when using M-x eyebrowse-switch-to-window-config. Setting the tag to an empty value will undo this change.

Key bindings

The default key bindings are:

Key bind Function
C-c C-w < Switch to previous window config
C-c C-w > Switch to next window config
C-c C-w ' Switch to last window config
C-c C-w " Close current window config
C-c C-w , Rename current window config
C-c C-w 0 Switch to window config 0
... ...
C-c C-w 9 Switch to window config 9

Further Customization

Use M-x customize-group RET eyebrowse for a list of customizable options. The more interesting ones would be eyebrowse-wrap-around and eyebrowse-switch-back-and-forth which affect both wrap around and lazier switching. It is also possible to change the behaviour of creation of new workspaces by customizing eyebrowse-new-workspace. By default the last one is simply cloned, setting it to t will start out with as empty of a slate as possible (by just displaying a single window with the scratch buffer in it).

The prefix for each binding defaults to C-c C-w, but you can change it to something else by customizing eyebrowse-keymap-prefix. If you want to change it in your init file, insert the customization before loading eyebrowse.el. This includes enabling it with an auto-loaded function, such as eyebrowse-setup-evil-keys, eyebrowse-setup-opinionated-keys or eyebrowse-mode.

If you're not happy with the default keybindings, a riskier set can be enabled additionally either by executing M-: (eyebrowse-setup-opinionated-keys) interactively or inserting (eyebrowse-setup-opinionated-keys) in your init file. If the function detects the evil package, it will enable extra key bindings for it as well.

The extra key bindings are:

Key bind Function
C-<, gT Switch to previous window config
C->, gt Switch to next window config
C-', zx Switch to last window config
C-", gc Close current window config
M-0 Switch to window config 0
... ...
M-9 Switch to window config 9


This mode basically wraps what C-x r w and C-x r j would do, but takes care of automatically saving and loading to a separate data structure for you and does it in a slightly different manner (see window-state-put and window-state-get for more details) to allow for features like persistency in combination with desktop.el.


The window-state-put and window-state-get functions do not save all window parameters. If you use features like side windows that store the window parameters window-side and window-slot, you will need to customize window-persistent-parameters for them to be saved as well:

(add-to-list 'window-persistent-parameters '(window-side . writable))
(add-to-list 'window-persistent-parameters '(window-slot . writable))

See #52 for further discussion.


desktop.el provides a built-in solution for saving and restoring window configurations. See eyebrowse-restore for an alternative solution to selectively restore window configurations, for example when using several frames.


The two most popular window configuration packages are elscreen and escreen. Both are fairly old and have their share of bugs. The closest package I've found so far to eyebrowse with workspace-specific buffers would be perspective. wconf is a minimal alternative with half the lines of code (and features). To have fancy features such as morphing, try workgroups or workgroups2.


Actually, I wanted to name this mode "eyebrows" for no real reason, but then a silly typo happened. The typo stuck. So did the new name.