I have emacs configured to refrain from inserting tabs for indentation purposes already. But this does not have any effect when I paste text containing a tab (from an external application, Google Chrome). How can I ensure that tabs are always replaced with spaces in pasted text?


As suggested in Qudit's answer, this can be done by advising clipboard-yank and mouse-yank-primary (see section 12.3 of emacs manual):

(defun remove-tabs-in-region (string)
  (subst-char-in-region (point) (mark) ?\t 32))

(advice-add 'clipboard-yank :after #'remove-tabs-in-region)
(advice-add 'mouse-yank-primary :after #'remove-tabs-in-region)

This does not try to be smart, each tab is simply replaced by a space. Maybe indent-region could also be called in the advice?


You can do this by advising the yank commands: clipboard-yank, mouse-yank-primary, yank and yank-pop.

Use (region-beginning) and (region-end) to get the region and then call query-replace to change the tabs to the appropriate numbers of spaces.

  • Could you please write up the advice you are contemplating? It would be helpful to have the code that lays out your solution rather than a loose sketch, especially for users who do not have much (or any) background with elisp. – Dan Oct 25 '15 at 13:52
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    You would only need to advise insert-for-yank-1 (others call it to do the actual insertion). But I still think there might be a better way to do it since you only want to affect the text copied from system clipboard. If you advise something like this, you'll have this function called only any yank, (most of which are benign). – wvxvw Oct 25 '15 at 14:00
  • @Dan Are loose sketches unwelcome here? – Qudit Oct 25 '15 at 14:16
  • @Qudit: It's not a case of "unwelcome," but rather providing more information. A loose sketch is useful in a comment to get someone started. In general, it's preferable to have answers that provide a self-contained solution. Ideally, the post can help many people in the future, some with enough background to turn the sketch into elisp code, and others who may be just getting started and wouldn't know what to do with the sketch. – Dan Oct 25 '15 at 14:37
  • @Dan I do agree that the code is more valuable, but writing a complete function and testing it to make sure it works properly can take longer than writing a loose sketch, so they aren't comparable alternatives to me. – Qudit Oct 26 '15 at 11:26

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