Spacemacs Basics

Understanding the Emacs basic concepts and terminology will help speed your adoption of Spacemacs.

You will gradually discover the power and pleasure of using Vim and modal editing, using different states for specific tasks and reducing your cognitive load (and strain from keybinding combinations). The Vim Quick Reference will help you use Spacemacs more effectively.

Spacemacs for Vim users

Migrating from Vim article helps Vimmers get up to speed with Spacemacs.

The two most important things to learn about Spacemacs first are the Space menu, SPC, and the Help system, SPC h.

Space bar - main menu

All of the commands in Spacemacs are available through the Space bar menu.

SPC displays a mnemonic menu (which-key) to easily navigate through the multitude of functions you can call.

SPC SPC displays a popup listing all Spacemacs commands, typing will start narrowing the list of commands using fuzzy logic, helping you find the right command quickly. This is equivalent to M-x in Emacs.

Spacemacs - space menu

Holy mode (Emacs) style editing

M-m is the equivalent of SPC in Evil (Vim) style editing

M-RET opens the major mode menu (e.g. Clojure specific menu in clojure-mode), the equivalent of , in Evil.

Spacemacs Help system

Spacemacs has a built in help system to help you find out what layers, commands and keybindings do.

Every function has a description of how to use it as well as a link to its source code (in case you need more than the description).

Many functions have a keybinding (keyboard short-cut) and you can also get a description of the keybinding.

Keybinding Action
SPC h SPC Spacemacs documentation and layer guides
SPC h d f functions and description of selected function
SPC h d k keybindings and description of selected keybinding

Online help

Keybinding guide

SPC means press the space bar

A character by itself means press that key by itself, eg. h means press the h key

M-m means to hold the meta key down and press the m key

The meta key is usually Alt on Linux/PC, Opt on MacOSX

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