Skip to content

Simple Layers and Configurationλ︎

Most language support and many other amazing features can be added to Emacs from many hundreds of packages created by the community. It does seem that there is a package for just about everything you want to do.

Spacemacs uses Layers that organise these packages and the configuration to make them work seamlessly together. For example, the Clojure layer is composed of 9 different packages that you would otherwise have to know about and install and then get them to work together with a bit of configuration code. Layers make things very simple, requiring only one word to be added to the Spacemacs configuration file.

Emacs - butterfly mode


SPC SPC butterfly to activate in Spacemacs. Use this great power very carefully.

Simple Configurationλ︎

Spacemacs provides a well tested configuration file called ~/.spacemacs that provides lots of sensible defaults and makes customising your experience very easy. This file is created during the Spacemacs installation.

.spacemacs.d/init.el file can be used as an alternative location for .spacemacs and is easier to manage changes via version control.

The ~/.spacemacs configuration file is composed of three important sections

Section Purpose
dotspacemacs/layers Layers provide a simple way to add language support and tooling to Spacemacs. A layer can contain elisp configuration and packages from Melpa/Elpa. Individual Emacs packages can also be added (if they do not exist in any layer)
dotspacemacs/init configuration applied when Spacemacs first starts, eg evil or holy mode(emacs), themes, fonts, full screen, recent files, etc
dotspacemacs/user-config Add your own customisation here

Spacemacs dotfile configuration

dotfile configuration details installation and syncronisation options

Opening and reloading the configuration fileλ︎

Spacemacs provides specific keybindings for opening and reloading the ~/.spacemacs configuration file.

Vim Normal Emacs Description
SPC f e d M-m f e d open the ~/.spacemacs file
SPC f e R M-m f e R reload the configuration from ~/.spacemacs

Restart after changing configuration

SPC q r after changes to the Spacemacs configuration file is recommended, especially after significant changes, e.g. adding multiple layers

SPC F e R to update the Spacemacs configuration without restarting Emacs.

Adding a Layerλ︎

Simply open the ~/.spacemacs file and add the name of the layer you want in the section dotspacemacs-configuration-layers. Some layers also take additional configuration in the form of variables in the layer definition.

See the Spacemacs documentation for a list of layers or open the help in Spacemacs SPC h SPC to list all the layers, pressing RET on a layer name to read about it.

Available Layersλ︎

SPC h l (or M-m h l in holy mode) displays a list of all layers available in Spacemacs. Type the layer name or scroll down (C-j) to a layer name and press TAB to preview the documentation for that layer or RTN to open the docs for that layer in a buffer.

Help layers - Helm list

Create your own layers with SPC SPC configuration-layer/create-layer. See the Spacemacs docs and Configuring Spacemacs, a tutorial for more information.

Existing Emacs usersλ︎

Consider the .spacemacs configuration file a replacement for the init.el file that would otherwise be use to define an Emacs configuration.

Installing packages via the packages-list-packages method is ignored by Spacemacs. Any packages installed in this way will be ignored and deleted on Emacs startup.

If a desired package is not included in any layer, a package can be used without a layer.

dotspacemacs/user-config section of the ~/.spacemacs configuration file should contain personal Emacs Lisp configuration and is the last section of the Spacemacs configuration to load.

Last update: February 23, 2023