Editor states - Evil or Holy

When installing Spacemacs you have the choice of editor styles

Editing style Description
Among the stars abord the Evil flagship (Vim) Provides Vim normal and insert states and several additional states provided by Spacemacs. You also have the classic Emacs editor too.
On the planet Emacs in the Holy control tower (Emacs) Emacs only editing (No Vim states) (To be checked, may still have lisp mode, etc.)

Spacemacs states

Evil flagship states

If you have never used Vim before, having all these states may be confusing. Each state has a specific purpose, eg. normal mode is about manipulating existing text where insert state is about adding more text.

Using a state for different types of editing actions greatly simplifies the keyboard bindings and arguably makes editing faster, especially once you get used to multi-state editing.

This speed is in part due to simpler keybinding when in normal mode as you are not typing content into the editor, simply running commands with each key press. This means you can have single characters to do many of the common commands, eg l instead of C-f for moving the cursor forward.

If you are deeply connected to the with Emacs keybindings, then probably best to stick to holy mode.

If you are new to Emacs or you just want to take advantage of Vim, then select Evil mode.

Evil flagship - toggling between Emacs

You can toggle between any of the Vim states and the Emacs state with C-z. This only works if you selected the Evil flagship editing style.


Here is the list of all the possible states, some of which are automatically applied (eg. magit git client is automatically evilified).

State Default Color Description
normal orange Vim normal - used to execute and combine commands
insert green Vim insert - used to actually insert text
visual gray Vim visual mode of Vim=, used to make text selection
motion purple Evil - used to navigate read only buffers
emacs blue This state is like using a regular Emacs without Vim
replace chocolate Evil - overwrites the character under point instead of inserting a new one
hybrid blue Spacemacs - use Emacs state instead of the Vim insert
evilified light brown Spacemacs - an emacs state modified to bring Vim navigation, selection and search.
lisp pink Spacemacs - structured editing for Lisp code (and Clojure)
iedit red Spacemacs - navigate between multiple regions of text
iedit-insert red Spacemacs - replace multiple regions of text

Spacemacs state documentation

States and other concepts are explained further in the Spacemacs concepts documentation.

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