Gray text highlighting no longer works on my Debian/stretch system. While this is particularly annoying in Emacs, it's not a specific Emacs problem; gray background is also gone from other applications, including the web browser. Therefore I asked for help at Unix SO.

I do however have an Emacs-specific question: Are there ways of active-region highlighting other than gray background? I would like to try them out in order to narrow down the gray-background-is-gone bug.

  • This might help you out. Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 16:22
  • 1
    Thank you, this fully answers my question. If you repost it as an answer, I'll accept it at once.
    – Joachim W
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 16:25
  • No problem, glad I could help. :) Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 16:30
  • FWIW, I think this question is a duplicate, but I don't have time to search for it.
    – Drew
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 6:32

1 Answer 1


What you're looking for is the region face. Put this in your .emacs file and change #666 to any color you want:

(set-face-attribute 'region nil :background "#666")

You could also then change the font color to make it more readable. E.g. to white

(set-face-attribute 'region nil :background "#666" :foreground "#ffffff")

Sources: This Question answered by tungd and Philippe.

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