Is there a way to use avy or a similar in-buffer selection tool to quickly select a word or line to paste at the current point?

For the following buffer an example workflow for proposed functionality would be:

line 1 - reallyLongSymbol
line 2 - bravo
line 3 - <POINT_HERE>
  • At line 3, realize I want to paste reallyLongSymbol at the current point.
  • M-x avy-select-word-and-paste (made-up)
  • Press the key combo that corresponds to reallyLongSymbol
  • reallyLongSymbol is inserted at POINT.

The buffer is now as follows:

line 1 - reallyLongSymbol
line 2 - bravo
line 3 - reallyLongSymbol<POINT_HERE>

Ideally, this would work for other targets like lines and urls.

3 Answers 3


avy already supports what you want. See avy-dispatch-alist.

However, the default actions are not enough. I have the following function in my config (here it copies a sexp, but you can change it to copy a line):

(defun my-avy-action-copy-and-yank (pt)
  "Copy and yank sexp starting on PT."
  (avy-action-copy pt)

Then assign a key to the function in avy-dispatch-alist. I use p here:

(setq avy-dispatch-alist '((?c . avy-action-copy)
                           (?k . avy-action-kill-move)
                           (?K . avy-action-kill-stay)
                           (?m . avy-action-mark)
                           (?p . my-avy-action-copy-and-yank)))

To use it: before you jump to reallyLongSymbol, first press p, then the letter combination for jumping to reallyLongSymbol. Note that you can't use p in avy-keys since it is now reserved for the my-avy-action-copy-and-yank.

This is a really awesome feature and you can easily add other actions you want.

  • This is so cool. One tweak I made. k and K didn't seem to work so I used x and X which also matches the default binding.
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 6:03
  • @JoeS You're right. I changed some of the keys and I just copied part of the code from my config and I forgot to change them back when posting the answer. You just need to make sure the keys used in the avy-dispatch-alist don't overlap the avy-keys, which are used for selection. Anyway, glad it helps.
    – cutejumper
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 6:51

cute-jumpers answer is perfectly functional. If you want to bind the action to another key rather than use avy's internal dispatch process then the following adapted code works quite well:

(defun my-avy-paste-word (char)
  "Paste a word selected with avy."
  (interactive (list (read-char "char:" t)))
  (let ((avy-action #'avy-action-copy))
    (when (avy-jump (concat "\\b" (string char)))

for this example you can use dynamic abbrev.

type "r" "M-/"

If you want to use avy, then assuming you have avy-goto-char bound to something like M-p, then

"C-SPC"   # set-mark, to remember where we are
"M-p the_correct_character_from_overlay" # avy-goto-char, goto place
"C-SPC"   # set-mark, start the region to copy
"M-f"     # forward-word, or C-e if you want to select a line...
"M-w"     # copy-region-as-kill, to copy the region
"C-x C-SPC" # pop-global-mark, get back to where we were
"C-y"     # yank, paste in the stuff we copied.

I know it looks a bit long (9 key combinations) but they will soon flow off the fingers.

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