I configured git so that it uses emacsclient when editing commit messages. The only problem is that these messages are edited in fundamental-mode. Which hook should I use to have these commit messages buffer in markdown-mode?

  • 3
    You could use auto-mode-alist to designate .git/COMMIT_EDITMSG as a file which should be opened with markdown-mode.
    – user12563
    Apr 18, 2018 at 9:58
  • Thanks. Adding (add-to-list 'auto-mode-alist '("COMMIT_EDITMSG" . markdown-mode)) solved my problem. Apr 18, 2018 at 21:06

3 Answers 3


Git uses .git/COMMIT_EDITMSG as the temporary file for the commit message. Since Emacs will be prompted to edit it by git, you can associate that file with markdown-mode by adding something like

(add-to-list 'auto-mode-alist '("COMMIT_EDITMSG" . markdown-mode))

to your init file.


Not an answer to the question (@DoMiNeLa10♦ already answered it perfectly), but I thought that it might be useful to point out that markdown is not the best highlighting mode for git commit messages.

There is a perfect mode for this and it is called git-commit, available on Melpa.

Adding (setq global-git-commit-mode t) to your init file will automatically open COMMIT_EDITMSG buffers in git-commit-mode.

There are other highlighting packages for other types of git files (.gitignore, etc.) also on Melpa.

None of these packages require magit (git-commit-mode is actually a minor mode from which the magit git-commit-major-mode is built).


I believe this will do what your after, but i have not tested personally

(setq git-commit-major-mode 'markdown-mode)

Looking at the code in the link below its set with defcustom to allow you to override to any mode you like.


  • Doesn't git-commit-major-mode require the use of magit? (which I don't use...) Apr 18, 2018 at 12:44
  • 1
    yes it does, did not realize magit was not available in which case @DoMiNeLa10 solution maybe what you need.
    – Oly
    Apr 18, 2018 at 13:05
  • This is a useful answer because people who are using Magit are likely to land here and this is the correct answer for them/me. Sep 28, 2020 at 17:23

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