When using ispell to check spelling and encountering an incorrect word, pressing r takes you to the minibuffer where you can enter a replacement for the misspelled word. By default the minibuffer already contains the incorrectly spelled word and so I need to clear the minibuffer first before being able to type in the replacement.

How do I add a hook to clear the input prompt automatically?

  • 1
    I see I can edit the source ispell.el and change line 2358 (read-string "Replacement for: " word nil) to (read-string "Replacement for: " nil nil) which is a bit of a hack, but does work. Having a limited knowledge of emacs and ispell, I would prefer something I can stick in my .emacs file :) Commented Oct 25, 2014 at 13:32

2 Answers 2


Honestly, I don't know if this is a good way to solve this issue, but it works (though fragile) and it shows a method that is applicable in other case.

Test case (since the Young Grandfather (tYG) forgot to post one):

  (setq ispell-program-name "hunspell")
  (switch-to-buffer (current-buffer))
  (insert "speling")

You see what tYG talks about by evaluating and clicking r. (Leave out the hunspell part if that's better for you).

Since ispell-command-loop is very complicated, it's not easy to mess with its internals. But we can use a fragile advice around it, see (info "(elisp) Advising Functions"). Note that we are using Stefan Monnier's new, hip and super-nice nadvice.el package!

(defun rasmus/ispell-loop-get-rid-of-misspeled-word (orig-fun &rest args)
  "Around-advice to avoid the misspeled word when typing r in ispell."
  (require 'cl)
  (cl-letf* (((symbol-function #'read-string*) (symbol-function #'read-string))
     ((symbol-function #'read-string)
      (lambda (prompt &optional initial-input history default-value
        (if (equal prompt "Replacement for: ")
        (read-string* prompt)
          (read-string* prompt initial-input history default-value
(apply orig-fun args)))

(advice-add 'ispell-command-loop :around

Run the test again. The misspelled word should be gone.

Bonus: do C-h f ispell-command-loop C-j. It should contain a line like :around advice: `rasmus/ispell-loop-get-rid-of-misspeled-word'.

  • I'd edit your answer quickly if I were at a computer; misspeled is misspelled :) Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 1:00
  • Kaushlmodi, it's a homage to speling.org. In the context it works better, no!?
    – rasmus
    Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 1:22
  • Excellent thanks very much will be using. Just did a copy and paste, all is working. Will get round to figuring out what you did at some other stage ... Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 8:20

@rasmus provided a nice programmatic solution. Here's another solution that is more interactive - it emulates what you manually do to clear the minibuffer when it's displayed with initial input:

(add-hook 'minibuffer-setup-hook
          (lambda ()
            (when (equal (minibuffer-prompt) "Replacement for: ")
  • That's certainly nice and simple! r(z)grep suggests that the string/prompt is unique (disregarding site-lisp), so I think it's pretty "safe" from false positives as well.
    – rasmus
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 17:04

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