I would like to wrap kill-ring-save in order to only execute kill-ring-save if text has been highlighted - same as in most text editors.

Sometimes I accidentally hit copy instead of paste and then my clipboard is over written, but I have not selected any text for copying. Personally it's a complete workflow killer.

Something like:

(defun my-kill-ring-save()

3 Answers 3


I think you simply want to (setq mark-even-if-inactive nil).


Do not worry about the kill ring ("clipboard") being overwritten: you can recover previous kill ring entries by typing C-y M-y (repeat M-y as many times as you need). See Section 12.2.2 of the Emacs manual for more.

If you really want to disable M-w when the region is inactive ("not highlighted"), which I do not recommend, you can probably do something like this (untested):

(defun my-kill-ring-save (beg end &optional region)
  (interactive (mark) (point) (prefix-numeric-value current-prefix-arg))
  (if (region-active-p)
      (kill-ring-save beg end region)
      (error "Eek!")))
  • I use browse-kill-ring but it's one too many keys and I'd rather just disable. Oct 27, 2014 at 11:42
  • This gives me: Wrong type argument: sequencep, 7269 Aug 29, 2019 at 1:52

As a Mac Os X user, the only regret that I have about emacs is its lack of integration with the rest of the so user-friedly Mac desktop. In particular, I have a mental problem when switching apps, to or from emacs, that is, the change of the copy-and-paste key shortcuts. Even Mac OS X’s Terminal.app understands the M-c and M-v shortcuts, while in emacs, We’re stuck with those ugly M-w and C-y.

As I don’t needed it (I have the “prior page” and “next page” keys on my keyboard) , I quickly replaced my M-v shortcut by a yank :

   (global-set-key (kbd "M-v") 'yank)

But I still had the M-c problem: I could not just bind M-c to kill-ring-save, because I really often use the traditional command bound to M-c: capitalize-word. So I wrote this little function in my .emacs, and it really made my life easier :

   (defun capitalize-word-or-kill-ring-save ()
      (if mark-active
          (kill-ring-save (region-beginning) (region-end))
        (capitalize-word 1)
(global-set-key (kbd "M-c") 'capitalize-word-or-kill-ring-save)

I posted this a long time ago on the EmacsWiki but an Emacs.SX site is a great home for this trick too !


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