User Interface

Historically Prelude had adopted a very minimalistic approach to UI and had hidden by default Emacs's menu bar and tool bar. This was changed a bit in Prelude 1.1 for the sake of being more approachable to newcomers to Emacs and now the menu bar is displayed by default. The tool bar is still hidden, as it's quite big and not that useful.


You can toggle the menu bar by pressing F12.

Furthermore, Prelude 1.1 displays line numbers (via global-nlinum-mode), just like most "modern" editors and IDEs do these days. You can go back to the way things were by setting prelude-minimalistic-ui to t in personal/preload or by adding the following snippets to your personal config:

(global-nlinum-mode -1)
(menu-bar-mode -1)


The first approach is better as it would prevent those UI elements from appearing temporarily.

Color Themes

Emacs provides a dozen of built-in themes you can use out-of-the-box by invoking the M-x load-theme command.

Zenburn is the default color theme in Prelude, but you can change it at your discretion. Why Zenburn? I (and lots of hackers around the world) find it pretty neat for some reason. Personally I find the default theme pretty tiresome for the eyes, that's why I took that "controversial" decision to replace it. You can, of course, easily go back to the default (or select another theme entirely).

To disable Zenburn just put in your personal config the following line:

(disable-theme 'zenburn)

Or you can use another theme altogether by adding something in personal/preload like:

(setq prelude-theme 'tango)


To use a non-built-in theme, like Solarized, you'll have to install it from MELPA first by M-x package-install RET solarized-theme. Then add

(setq prelude-theme 'solarized-dark)

in personal/preload.

Finally, if you don't want any theme at all, you can add this to your personal/preload:

(setq prelude-theme nil)


All files you create under the personal/ directory are yours for personalization. There is no single special personal config file -- any files you create in the personal/ directory will be loaded in lexicographical order. The overall loading precedence is:

  1. personal/preload/*
  2. core/
  3. personal/prelude-modules.el (or deprecated prelude-modules.el)
  4. personal/*

Personalization Example

Suppose you want to configure go-mode to autoformat on each save. You can create a file in personal/, let's call this one config-go-mode.el and add the following to it.

(add-hook 'go-mode-hook
          (lambda ()
            (add-hook 'before-save-hook 'gofmt-before-save)
            (setq tab-width 2)))

General Tips

Fork (instead of cloning) the official Prelude repo and add your own touch to it. You're advised to avoid changing stuff outside of the personal folder to avoid having to deal with git merge conflicts in the future.

If you'd like to add some auto installation of packages in your personal config use the following code:

(prelude-require-packages '(some-package some-other-package))

If you require just a single package you can also use:

(prelude-require-package 'some-package)

Preloading personal config

Sometimes you might want to load code before Prelude has started loading. Prelude will automatically preload all Emacs Lisp files in your personal/preload directory. Note that at this point you can't using anything from Prelude, except a few variables like prelude-dir, etc (since nothing is yet loaded).

Disabling whitespace-mode

Although whitespace-mode is awesome, some people might find it too intrusive. You can disable it in your personal config with the following bit of code:

(setq prelude-whitespace nil)

If you like whitespace-mode, but prefer it to not automatically cleanup your file on save, you can disable that behavior by setting prelude-clean-whitespace-on-save to nil in your config file with:

(setq prelude-clean-whitespace-on-save nil)

Disable flyspell-mode

If you're not fond of spellchecking on the fly:

(setq prelude-flyspell nil)

Disable automatic formatting on save

If you prefer not to automatically format your file on save, you can disable that behavior by setting prelude-format-on-save to nil in your config file with:

(setq prelude-format-on-save nil)

Currently this only affects automated formatting of Typescript files.

Disable Super-based keybindings

Out-of-the-box Prelude will create two versions of many keybindings in prelude-mode:

  • One "traditional" version with a prefix like Control
  • One "alternative" version with a prefix like Super

The reason for this is that there are generally more options for short keybindings with Super - e.g. you can have s-p, s-g, etc. There's, however, a problem lying here as well - some operating systems and desktop environments might be making heavy use of such keybindings. (in most cases those would intercept them before Emacs does). exwm also uses those heavily. You prevent Prelude from creating such keybindings via prelude-super-keybindings:

(setq prelude-super-keybindings nil)

Configuration per file or directory

Some of these settings (those that don't need to be pre-loaded) can also be set on a per-file or directory basis by using a file local variable or a .dir-locals.el file.