I am using Evil-mode which creates a vi-layer in Emacs. This means you have different modes (e.g., NORMAL; INSERT; VISUAL). Unfortunately this also happens at times when I do not want to be in NORMAL mode. For example when an error pops up in the Cider REPL I want to be able to press q and exit the buffer immediately. Not iq (change to insert mode and quit). Same for the NeoTree navigation where I want to press ENTER to open a directory structure. Instead I have to press i ENTER (change to insert mode and open directory).

Example where I want to press ENTER on the left side, but I have to enter insert mode :

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Is it possible to configure Emacs/Evil-mode in such a way that in the case of non text-editing Windows (like NeoTree navigation, REPL or Cider Errors) I can press the normal commands without having to switch to INSERT mode first?


You can assign initial states to different modes with the variables:

  • evil-emacs-state-modes
  • evil-normal-state-modes
  • evil-insert-state-modes
  • ... and so on

If you'd like to maintain the default keybindings in a certain mode without Evil getting in the way, you may wish to assign that mode to Emacs state:

(add-to-list 'evil-emacs-state-modes 'my-interesting-mode)
  • Thanks. Problem is I do want to navigate with hjkl (NORMAL mode), but ENTER should respond as in INSERT mode. – Erwin Rooijakkers Apr 15 '16 at 14:24

The easiest way of getting that behaviour is unbinding RET in the map where it's defined, that way Emacs will fall back to the otherwise active binding:

(eval-after-load 'evil-maps
  '(define-key evil-motion-state-map (kbd "RET") nil))

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