Visual Line mode is a LineWrap mode for Emacs that replaced LongLines. According to the NEWS file,

    Visual Line mode provides support for editing by visual lines.
    It turns on word-wrapping in the current buffer, and rebinds C-a, C-e,
    and C-k to commands that operate by visual lines instead of logical
    lines.  This is a more reliable replacement for longlines-mode.
    This can also be turned on using the menu bar, via
    Options -> Line Wrapping in this Buffer -> Word Wrap

To use the original behavior put the following in your .emacs:

    (setq line-move-visual nil)

But can you have visual-line-mode wrap at a given column and not just at the window border? I like how longlines-mode keeps text at 80 columns or less. --BryanMurdock

The following code convinces visual-line-mode to wrap at a given column by expanding the right margin of the buffer’s window. It’s worked pretty well for me, although it depends on being the only one that fiddles with the margins. --JamesWright

    (defvar visual-wrap-column nil)
    (defun set-visual-wrap-column (new-wrap-column &optional buffer)
      "Force visual line wrap at NEW-WRAP-COLUMN in BUFFER (defaults
    to current buffer) by setting the right-hand margin on every
    window that displays BUFFER.  A value of NIL or 0 for
    NEW-WRAP-COLUMN disables this behavior."
      (interactive (list (read-number "New visual wrap column, 0 to disable: " (or visual-wrap-column fill-column 0))))
      (if (and (numberp new-wrap-column)
               (zerop new-wrap-column))
        (setq new-wrap-column nil))
      (with-current-buffer (or buffer (current-buffer))
        (visual-line-mode t)
        (set (make-local-variable 'visual-wrap-column) new-wrap-column)
        (add-hook 'window-configuration-change-hook 'update-visual-wrap-column nil t)
        (let ((windows (get-buffer-window-list)))
          (while windows
            (when (window-live-p (car windows))
              (with-selected-window (car windows)
            (setq windows (cdr windows))))))
    (defun update-visual-wrap-column ()
      (if (not visual-wrap-column)
        (set-window-margins nil nil)
        (let* ((current-margins (window-margins))
               (right-margin (or (cdr current-margins) 0))
               (current-width (window-width))
               (current-available (+ current-width right-margin)))
          (if (<= current-available visual-wrap-column)
            (set-window-margins nil (car current-margins))
            (set-window-margins nil (car current-margins)
                                (- current-available visual-wrap-column))))))

I used the code above from JamesWright very successfully for a few years, but now there is also visual-fill-column which uses the fill-column setting to wrap lines in visual line mode. Seems to work really well, I started having trouble with line wrapping when I switched to working in a terminal, but it appears to be sorted out now with visual-fill-column. – TomHFife

I turned it on globally with `(global-visual-line-mode 1)’ and it’s really useful. But I also use iswitchb which shows the buffer list in multiple lines in the minibuffer if there are lots of open buffers. That’s how I like it. The problem is visual line mode wraps lines in the minibuffer too which is not good, because it breaks the nice iswitchb display.

Is there a way to turn it on globally, but disable it in the minibuffer? I tried this, but it didn’t seem to do the trick:

    (add-hook 'minibuffer-setup-hook (lambda ()
                                       (visual-line-mode -1)))


You may want to ask help-gnu-emacs. An conflict between global visual line mode and Iswitchb may be a bug.

Concerning your workaround(?), note that ‘iswitchb-minibuffer-setup-hook’ may be more appropriate, and you may also want to just try setting ‘line-move-visual’ to nil, then setting it back with ‘minibuffer-exit-hook’. So something along the lines of.

    (add-hook 'iswitchb-minibuffer-setup-hook
	      (lambda ()
		(setq line-move-visual nil)))
    (add-hook 'minibuffer-exit-hook (lambda ()
				      (setq line-move-visual t)))

This is just an untested guess on what to also try, so no guarantees that it will work. – AaronHawley

Tried your suggestion. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help. The problem is the same.

A solution, or rather workaround, is to enable ‘visual-line-mode’ for text-modes only:

    (add-hook 'text-mode-hook 'turn-on-visual-line-mode)

I find this superior to enabling ‘visual-line-mode’ globally, because I prefer the old behavior when editing code or configuration files.

The only thing that’s bothering me about VisualLineMode is that I can’t visually discern whether there is an actual newline at the end of a displayed line or not. I have to either disable VisualLineMode temporarily or glance at the line number while navigating through the file. This is especially cumbersome if some paragraphs are filled and some not.

I think a neat solution would be if VisualLineMode also used the fringe to mark wrapped lines. Is there a way to achieve that?


You can use ‘visual-line-fringe-indicators’ variable for that, for example:

    (setq visual-line-fringe-indicators '(left-curly-arrow right-curly-arrow))

How can I permanently set the visual line wrap, as in the code above but without invoking `M-x set-visual-wrap-column`?


To set the VisualLineMode on a file by file basis using emacs local variables, try:

    #  local variables:
    #    eval: (visual-line-mode t)

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