How can I configure Emacs in Evil mode to delete an empty line (d d) without copying it but still copy it when deleting a non-empty line?

2 Answers 2


You can try this.

(evil-define-operator evil-delete-without-register-if-whitespace (beg end type reg yank-handler)
  (interactive "<R><y>")
  (let ((text (replace-regexp-in-string "\n" "" (filter-buffer-substring beg end))))
    (if (string-match-p "^\\s-*$" text)
      (evil-delete beg end type ?_)
      (evil-delete beg end type reg yank-handler))))

Followed by rebinding d with it:

(define-key evil-normal-state-map "d" #'evil-delete-without-register-if-whitespace)

I found this looking at this emacs configuration.

What you're asking for does not require knowledge of spacemacs. It involves evil, a package that is included in spacemacs.

Deleting in evil is an operator. This defines a new operator to replace the default one; the main difference being that it checks to see if what's being added to the register is whitespace. If it is it adds nothing, otherwise it adds it to the register.

To learn more about evil check out noctuid's evil guide.

Note: that this is not strictly what you asked for because you spoke of not adding empty lines to the register while this doesn't add whitespace in general to the register (even if not a full empty line). But I suspect you'd actually find this more useful.

  • Thank you for such detailed answer! That's exactly what I was looking for! Also thank you for the references and explanations, this is super helpful for a beginner!
    – henadzit
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 19:06
  • No problem! I'd appreciate it if you could change the title of the post. Maybe to Evil - don't a yank with only whitespace to register or something along those lines. yank is the emacs/vim term for copying. This is so that others with the same question can find it. Please also change the spacemacs tag to evil and add a register tag if it exists. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 19:31
  • My bad I made a typo. I meant Evil - don't yank with only whitespace to a register. Sorry for the inconvenience. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 20:16
  • FYI this seems to conflict with evil-surround and can lead to "ds*" commands not working. Is there any easy fix?
    – jds
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 22:16

Here is what I use:

(define-key evil-normal-state-map "x" 'delete-forward-char)
(define-key evil-normal-state-map "X" 'delete-backward-char)


  • delete-forward/backward-char is the function to delete something without yanking it to any register.
  • Vx: this would select a line (V) then delete it (x) without yanking it, so it might be what you want when you delete a blank line.
  • vexP: select a word (ve) and change it (xP) with content in the register without changing the content of the register, ie. paste the register over a word without changing the content of the register. This is quite usefull, for example, when you have a text foo bar barr barr barrr and you want to change all bar barr barrr to foo, then just yank foo then paste that foo to other words.


  • While a region is selected, then d would do the same job as original x: “delete and yank”. So, change x to “delete without yank” is fine, without limiting capability at all. For example, when you want to delete a line and yank it, press Vd or dd.
  • If there is no region selected, then vd would delete one character and yank. Or, you can just press delete to do the same job. So, again, change x to delete without yank is also fine. Generally you do not need to delete and yank only one character anyway.

(sorry for my broken English)

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