If i run M-x package-list-packages, it will list all packages with description like this.

enter image description here

If i run M-x package-install, it shows only package names like this.

enter image description here

How can i get package description along with package name?

  • 2
    You can 1) search package name within Package Menu; 2) if you have helm, try M-x helm-list-elisp-packages; 3) Write your own package-install-like command, learn package-install to find all possible package names, learn describe-package or others to find how to get package's description (summary), then use package-install to install package. You can use helm to write the UI.
    – xuchunyang
    Sep 11, 2015 at 17:32

2 Answers 2


If you have helm installed, you can use this function.

(defun my-package-install-init ()
 (let ((packages (append (mapcar 'car package-alist)
                         (mapcar 'car package-archive-contents)
                         (mapcar 'car package--builtins))))
   (mapcar (lambda (pkg)
             (let* ((desc (or
                           (if (package-desc-p pkg) pkg)
                           (cadr (assq pkg package-alist))
                           (let ((built-in (assq pkg package--builtins)))
                             (if built-in
                                 (package--from-builtin built-in)
                               (cadr (assq pkg package-archive-contents))))))
                    (summary (if desc (package-desc-summary desc) "")))
               (cons (format "%-24s %s" pkg summary) (symbol-name pkg))))

(defun my-package-install ()
   (helm-build-sync-source "Install Package"
     :candidates #'my-package-install-init
     :candidate-number-limit 9999
      :coerce #'intern))))

Here is a screen shot of it.

enter image description here

  • helm-list-elisp-packages also does the job, but it is not showing all packages. Sep 11, 2015 at 18:20
  • I don't think so, helm-list-elisp-packages just uses the result of package-list-package, unless your package-list-packages can't show all packages.
    – xuchunyang
    Sep 11, 2015 at 18:24
  • 1
    for packge-list-packages i am getting more than 20 packages which start with helm-*, but for helm-list-elisp-packages, i am getting only 5 packages cloud.githubusercontent.com/assets/4463796/9823100/… Sep 11, 2015 at 18:35
  • 1
    @ChillarAnand Same thing here. I can't find the documentation, but looking at the sources, it appears that if there are updateable packages in your system, helm-list-elisp-packages automatically switches to update mode on startup (meaning it only shows you packages which you can update). Try pressing M-A to switch to the unfiltered list. Sep 11, 2015 at 19:18
  • @ChillarAnand It is desired behavior and also documented, use C-h m to read its doc. I didn't know this new behavior before.
    – xuchunyang
    Sep 11, 2015 at 20:12

As suggested in the comments by @xuchunyang, you can try helm-list-elisp-packages.

Please note that you might at first be confused: if your system is not fully up-to-date, helm-list-elisp-packages will open with a filtered view showing only upgradeable packages (and this bypasses the documented behaviour that the initial filter is determined by helm-el-package-initial-filter).

You can press M-A to switch to the unfiltered view. (And, as always, press C-hm to see the mode help explaining other key bindings).

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