I'm using GUI emacs, so I can click to move the cursor, and double-click to select a word under the mouse pointer as a region.

How can I configure emacs so that right-click selects a character under the mouse pointer? I know that I can assign a function by writing

(global-set-key (kbd "<mouse-3>") 'foobar) 

in the init file, but when I wrote a function for this purpose a while ago, it didn't put the cursor under the place I right-clicked, it just started marking a character forward from where the mouse pointer is currently at. What kind of function I can use for placing the cursor right under the mouse pointer?

1 Answer 1


You can do it:

(defun select-char-at-click (event)
  "Select char at EVENT position.
EVENT should be a mouse-click event."
  (interactive "e")
  (run-hooks 'mouse-leave-buffer-hook) ; Give Isearch etc. a chance to turn off.
  (let ((pos  (cadr (event-start event))))
    (unless (>= pos (point-max))
      (push-mark pos)
      (goto-char (1+ (mark)))))
  (setq mark-active      t
    deactivate-mark  nil))

(global-set-key [mouse-3] 'select-char-at-click)
(global-set-key [down-mouse-3] 'ignore)

But you really do not want to do that. Mouse-3 (right button) is used in Emacs to extend the region from the point you set using mouse-1. It is also used in several contexts to pop up a right-click contextual menu.

  • Thank you! I could manage to find the function that's originally assigned to mouse-3, which is mouse-save-then-kill, and bound it to S-mouse-1 so that it behaves like the Mac OS system keyboard shortcut, so it won't be a problem. As for the contextual menu, I've almost never found a chance to use it except on the mode line. Am I missing some really convenient uses of it? Assigning the command you wrote to mouse-3 didn't affect the behavior of mouse-3 on the mode line.
    – stacko
    Jan 17, 2016 at 9:08
  • Wrt useful mouse-3 contextual menus: you might want to take a look at my library mouse3.el. It is described here.
    – Drew
    Jan 17, 2016 at 17:45

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