Emacs #2: Evil-mode

Back in August, I wrote about how I was starting to learn Emacs. I had planned to post weekly updates as I was learning, but life happened and I didn’t end up doing that. So from now on, I’ll just be numbering these posts with #1, #2, etc.

On the bright side, I’ve still been learning! Since the last post, I’ve:

  • Started using evil-mode!
  • Switched from Aquamacs to homebrew emacs.
  • Setup my ~/.emacs file with some packages.
  • Setup my color theme.


I’ve been a vim user (occasionaly full time) for a several years, but I intentionally avoided evil-mode when I was getting started with Emacs. I wanted to learn the standard Emacs shortcuts first, before trying anything else.

Once I felt pretty confident with vanilla-emacs though, I was ready to get back some of that vim-awesomeness.

A quick google search turned up this talk and post by Aaron Bieber, both of which were great to help me get going.

Once I got everything setup, I instantly felt at home with evil-mode. I still had access to M-x function and all the Emacs modes I had learned, but now there was a nice layer of vim on top. Like icing on a cake! 🍰

I also setup evil-leader, and bound it to ,, to emulate my vim leader key.

Homebrew Emacs

Aquamacs had been serving me really while I was learning the ropes, but it was time to switch to something more standard. I’m on macOS, so I went with the homebrew cask version of emacs:

brew cask install emacs

.emacs and use-package

Now that I needed to install and configure plugins, I figured it was time to setup my ~/.emacs file.

In Aaron Bieber’s post he recommends use-package for auto-installing packages. It sounded similar to how I was using Vundle in vim, so I went with that.

Once I had use-package installed, I added in a couple of packages like powerline and markdown-mode to try it out.

I also added my ~/.emacs file to my dotfiles on GitHub, because open-source! 🎉


  • I stole some keyboard shortcuts and configurations from Aaron Bieber’s dotfiles. Thanks Aaron!
  • I updated my karabiner config to allow caps-lock to function as both escape and left-control.
  • I ran into an issue with the powerline separators being the wrong color, that required a special setting to fix.
  • I noticed that emoji aren’t rendering in Emacs. 😭
  • I’m still really glad I started out with Aquamacs. It was easy to install, and behaved more like a standard macOS application which made it easy to get going.


Now that I can install fancy packages, I added Dracula theme for some pretty colors. I also really like having powerline in the bottom.