I have a hard time using vc-annotate (my version control system is git), because the output is not very userfriendly, as it displays long filenames in a separate column in the buffer, which take up half of my screen. Apart from that it takes ages until vc-annotate command returns any output.

I suspect this is because of some arguments passed to git blame command. Can I somehow override the default vc-annotate command and pass my custom options to git blame (like not showing file paths, different date format etc.)

I tried magit-blame but didn't like the output style of mixing code and annotations.

  • You can have a look here: quora.com/…
    – djangoliv
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 14:40
  • I tend to just use v to hide the metadata when it takes up too much space, and then toggle it back on when I want to see it.
    – phils
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 21:01

2 Answers 2


These are hard-coded into the vc-git-annotate-command function. The following is from 24.5:

(defun vc-git-annotate-command (file buf &optional rev)
  (let ((name (file-relative-name file)))
    (vc-git-command buf 'async nil "blame" "--date=iso" "-C" "-C" rev "--" name)))

The simplest thing at present is probably to redefine the function:

(eval-after-load "vc-git"
  '(defun vc-git-annotate-command (file buf &optional rev)

You could also M-x report-emacs-bug to ask for the command arguments to be abstracted out to a variable, if you conclude there's a good case for this to be configurable.

  • 1
    Nice thank you. That should help, but I cant seem to find a way to exclude the file path from the git output. Do you know if I can somehow make the file path column narrower in emacs?
    – BMBM
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 11:52
  • Oh... You're seeing file paths in your vc-annotate output with git? That's not normal (or certainly not with git 2.1.4). Which version are you using?
    – phils
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 12:13
  • 1
    See the discussion of the --show-name option in the git-blame man page. It shouldn't be active by default, but git enables it automatically in certain circumstances because it's important. You can pass --no-show-name to force it off, but it looks to me as if that's a bad idea. Instead try just toggling the metadata off and on (v) in the vc-annotate buffer, as required.
    – phils
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 12:23
  • I see, git indeed only shows the filename when the file was renamed. But my project has quite deep dir structure, so the filename column takes 3/4 of my screen. Hm ok, if thats the only viable solution, then I might have to goggle the metadata with v, but better would be to narrow the file column or be able to toggle that column only … anyway, thanks for your help! :)
    – BMBM
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 9:57

With Emacs 25.1 you can pass options to git blame using the vc-git-annotate-switches variable:

(setq vc-git-annotate-switches '("-w"))
  • 2
    But -c (that suppress embedding long file names into blame) option breaks highlighting and VC commands. I wander if there is a bug reported on this issue.
    – gavenkoa
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 9:26

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