I would like to change the cursor, like in Terminal, from the block to the I-Beam cursor.

From this:


To this:


How would I do this?

Also, on a side note, how do I change the color of the cursor?

3 Answers 3


In order to change your cursor or caret, what you want to do is:

Open your .emacs file and this line of code:

(setq-default cursor-type 'bar) 

And to change the color:

(set-cursor-color "#ffffff") 

Of course, you can change #ffffff to any hexadecimal color.

  • 1
    Just saw a lot of pretty colors at kuler but I think your answer is better without the reference.
    – remvee
    Sep 28, 2014 at 17:09

Cursor type can be set for a given buffer (using buffer-local variable cursor-type), as indicated in the answer by @King. (That answer uses setq-default to set the default value for all buffers.)

Or it can be set for a given frame, as frame parameter cursor-type.

You can set it the default cursor type for all frames by adding it to option default-frame-alist. For example add this item to the alist: (cursor-type . bar).

Here is a command (from library oneonone.el to set the cursor type for the current frame:

(defun 1on1-set-cursor-type (cursor-type)
  "Set the cursor type of the selected frame to CURSOR-TYPE.
When called interactively, prompt for the type to use.
To get the frame's current cursor type, use `frame-parameters'."
   (list (intern (completing-read
                   "Cursor type: "
                   (mapcar 'list '("box" "hollow" "bar" "hbar" nil))))))
  (modify-frame-parameters (selected-frame) (list (cons 'cursor-type cursor-type))))

Cursor color is always per-frame, not per-buffer.

(In library oneonone.el you will also find options to automatically change the cursor type when you switch a buffer between read-only and writable, or between overwrite mode and insert mode, or to change the type to a box cursor (more noticeable) when Emacs is idle.)


Unfortunately I can't comment yet, but I also tried to change the color by adding the command (set-cursor-color "#ffff00"). When I reload my emacs, I don't get it to work though. The cursor is still white (not as expected: yellow). I used the M-x eval-buffer and for a fraction of a second my cursor got yellow and returned to white shortly afterwards. What is the problem there?

EDIT: I use evil-mode and because they handle it differently, you can copy this and customize it in a way you want. I copied this from the website @g-gundam provided.

(setq          evil-default-cursor       '("DodgerBlue1" box)
              evil-normal-state-cursor  '("gray" box)
              evil-emacs-state-cursor   '("orange" box)
              evil-motion-state-cursor  '("SeaGreen1" box)
              evil-insert-state-cursor  '("white" bar)
              evil-visual-state-cursor  '("white" hbar)
              evil-replace-state-cursor '("pink" hbar))
  • 1
    Are you using evil-mode by any chance? It has its own cursor color control. old.reddit.com/r/emacs/comments/71czre/…
    – g-gundam
    May 16, 2023 at 14:16
  • 1
    Yes I use emacs-evil. This worked as well for me. Thanks for helping me out... (again) :^) May 16, 2023 at 14:33
  • You could add value to your answer by describing the solution provided by @g-gundam. May 16, 2023 at 17:13
  • @FranBurstall Sure! I edited my response :) May 16, 2023 at 18:17

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