I use evil-mode with Emacs and would like to accomplish this via evil-mode, but would be fine with doing it in an Emacs-centric way too. The subject line explains it well, but here is a post in which a Vim user posted the same question as mine and received the Vim-centric answer (several actually): How do I move vertically until reaching a non-whitespace character?

Another useful link, similar to that provided above: Move to the next row which has non-white space character in the same column in VIM?

Thanks in advance.

UPDATE: I decided I'd write a function to do this and it was surprisingly easy:

(defun jump-down-to-non-whitespace-char-in-same-column ()
  (while (or (= (char-after (point)) 32)
             (= (char-after (point)) 10))

I guess I'd still like to know if there is a way to do it with evil-mode anyway just because I am curious, so I won't answer my own question yet.

UPDATE 2: I prefer the following version instead as now I use evil-next-line and evil-previous-line which behave more consistently the way I want:

(defun jump-down-to-non-whitespace-char-in-same-column ()
  (while (or (= (char-after (point)) 32)
            (= (char-after (point)) 10))

(defun jump-up-to-non-whitespace-char-in-same-column ()
  (while (or (= (char-after (point)) 32)
            (= (char-after (point)) 10))

Then in my evil-leader config I use "c d" jump-down-to-non-whitespace-char-in-same-column and "c u" jump-up-to-non-whitespace-char-in-same-column

  • I suggest moving your own answers to actual answers, and maybe expand a bit on the difference between the first and the "evil" versions.
    – YoungFrog
    May 6, 2016 at 8:20

1 Answer 1


I use the following :

(defun next-line-non-empty-column (arg)
  "Find next line, on the same column, skipping those that would
end up leaving point on a space or newline character."
  (interactive "p")
  (let* ((hpos (- (point) (point-at-bol)))
         (re (format "^.\\{%s\\}[^\n ]" hpos)))
    (cond ((> arg 0)
           (forward-char 1) ; don't match current position (can only happen at column 0)
           (re-search-forward re))
          ((< arg 0)
           (forward-char -1)           ; don't match current position.
           (re-search-backward re)
           (goto-char (match-end 0))))
    ;; now point is after the match, let's go back one column.
    (forward-char -1)))
(defun previous-line-non-empty-column (arg)
  (interactive "p")
  (next-line-non-empty-column (- arg)))
(global-set-key (kbd "C-S-n") 'next-line-non-empty-column)
(global-set-key (kbd "C-S-p") 'previous-line-non-empty-column)

IIRC I went for the regexp way because of performance reasons. Not saying that this is the best implementation, but it was better than my previous one (don't remember what it was).

  • Thanks @YoungFrog, appreciate it. Nice to have a regexp solution. I'll try to remember to give some points to you when my rep here grows.
    – Joe
    May 6, 2016 at 5:57
  • Please note that this will not match exactly your code (with next-line) when visual-line-mode is on (and truncate-lines is nil) : if you have a very long lines which wraps, your code will stop on the next visual line, whereas this code will not. (I don't know how evil-next-line behaves.)
    – YoungFrog
    May 6, 2016 at 8:26
  • 1
    This is something that never occurred to me but now that I've added it I'm using it a lot -- thanks!
    – glucas
    Mar 2, 2018 at 18:16

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