Endless Parentheses

Ramblings on productivity and technical subjects.

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Multiple Cursors keybinds

The Multiple Cursors package has been given much praise throughout the Emacsphere. It has a smaller use-case than keyboard macros, but it is usually quicker and just plain looks awesome. To make full use of its commands, I combine two of the concepts I've explained here before, rebinding M-number and intuitive keymaps.

I won’t go into what this package is, as Magnar already has a whole video on that. Instead, I’ll just explain how I use it.

Firstly, the following keys make the most sense to me.

(require 'multiple-cursors-core)
;; This is globally useful, so it goes under `C-x', and `m'
;; for "multiple-cursors" is easy to remember.
(define-key ctl-x-map "\C-m" #'mc/mark-all-dwim)
;; Usually, both `C-x C-m' and `C-x RET' invoke the
;; `mule-keymap', but that's a waste of keys. Here we put it
;; _just_ under `C-x RET'.
(define-key ctl-x-map (kbd "<return>") mule-keymap)

;; Remember `er/expand-region' is bound to M-2!
(global-set-key (kbd "M-3") #'mc/mark-next-like-this)
(global-set-key (kbd "M-4") #'mc/mark-previous-like-this)

These three commands do most of the hard work. I'll never forget about them, so their keys don't need to be clever, they just need to be quick. Having mc/mark-next-like-this right next to er/expand-region is really the best place, although now-a-days I use mc/mark-all-dwim almost exclusively.

Something that took me a long time to figure out is that you can unmark stuff you just marked. Previously, whenever I marked-next-like-this once too many I’d just abort and start again. It makes sense to bind this to the same keys as above with the Shift modifier.

;; These vary between keyboards. They're supposed to be
;; Shifted versions of the two above.
(global-set-key (kbd "M-£") #'mc/unmark-next-like-this)
(global-set-key (kbd "M-$") #'mc/unmark-previous-like-this)

On the other hand, this package has a myriad of commands which are extremely useful on a less-than-daily basis, and this is where we invoke the power of intuitive key-maps.

(define-prefix-command 'endless/mc-map)
;; C-x m is usually `compose-mail'. Bind it to something
;; else if you use this command.
(define-key ctl-x-map "m" 'endless/mc-map)

;;; Really really nice!
(define-key endless/mc-map "i" #'mc/insert-numbers)
(define-key endless/mc-map "h" #'mc-hide-unmatched-lines-mode)
(define-key endless/mc-map "a" #'mc/mark-all-like-this)

;;; Occasionally useful
(define-key endless/mc-map "d"
(define-key endless/mc-map "r" #'mc/reverse-regions)
(define-key endless/mc-map "s" #'mc/sort-regions)
(define-key endless/mc-map "l" #'mc/edit-lines)
(define-key endless/mc-map "\C-a"
(define-key endless/mc-map "\C-e"

Note how easy these keys are to remember. I use mc/insert-numbers barely once a week, but I never forget it's bound to C-x m i (and when I do use it, it’s a godsend). Other commands that I rarely use but save me a lot of trouble when I do are sort/reverse-regions and mc-hide-unmatched-lines-mode.

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