I'm not sure whether anyone has ever implemented what I'm looking for, but maybe I'm just using the wrong terms to search for it.

What I want to achieve is essentially a reverse copy and paste:

  • I'm in Buffer A, Position X
  • Hit "paste" (to mark where I want to paste stuff without actually pasting stuff)
  • Go to Buffer B, Position Y
  • Hit "copy"
  • Emacs jumps back to Buffer A, Position X and pastes whatever I copied before

I feel like this would a much quicker workflow than traditional copy-and-paste (where I have to manually jump back to where I was, especially if I have to look through a hand full of files before finding what I want to paste).

Is there a package for that? If not, whats a good starting point for my own macro?

Bonus points if it integrates nicely with the system clipboard or if there's a generic solution for Linux.


3 Answers 3


You can record locations in a register. That is:

  1. Record your current position in register 'a': C-x r <space> a
  2. Go copy something, as above
  3. Return to the recorded position with C-x r j a
  4. Paste your copy.

If you do this a lot, you may want to define some functions to handle it for you:

(defun tws-save-point ()
    (point-to-register ?q))

(defun tws-jump-to-saved-point ()
    (jump-to-register ?q))

(global-set-key [f7] 'tws-save-point)
(global-set-key [f8] 'tws-jump-to-saved-point)

If you always want to paste something when you return to the saved location, you could use this instead:

(defun tws-jump-to-saved-point-and-yank ()
    (jump-to-register ?q)

Have you tried window splitting?

First, navigate to where you want to yank (paste) into buffer A. Now set up your two buffers side-by-side (one-time task):

C-x 4 b <RET>
C-x o

Point is now back where you started in buffer A, with buffer B visible (but not selected) next to buffer A.

From now on you can do the following: switch to buffer B, copy what you need, switch back to buffer A, and yank. You probably want to record it as a keyboard macro to give you that one-keystroke automation you're looking for.

C-x o
C-x o

To make the M-w step more flexible, see (info "(emacs) Keyboard Macro Query") on how to use C-r to enter a recursive editing level during keyboard macro execution.

For those bonus points: here's how I integrate the Emacs kill-ring with X11 copy-and-paste on *n*x.

;; One or other or both? Not sure. I have both.
  interprogram-cut-function 'x-select-text
  x-select-enable-clipboard t)

I don't know of a package which provides this functionality, no.

I dimly remember a package which provided a kind of "single click copy&paste" where IIRC a press+down+release of the mouse in one window would copy&paste the selected text to the position of the cursor in "the" other window. But I can't find it any more.

The operations you request are pretty easy to implement:

(defvar my--prepared-region
  (let ((ol (make-overlay (point) (point))))
    (delete-overlay ol)

(defun my-prepare-for-paste (&optional beg end)
  (interactive (when (use-region-p)
                 (list (region-beginning) (region-end))))
  (move-overlay my--prepared-region
                (or beg (point)) (or end (point))))

(defun my-paste-into-prepared-region (string)
   (list (funcall region-extract-function nil)))
  (with-current-buffer (overlay-buffer my--prepared-region)
    (let ((delcount (- (overlay-end my--prepared-region)
                       (overlay-start my--prepared-region))))
      (goto-char (overlay-start my--prepared-region))
      (insert string)
      (delete-char delcount))))

The main question is one of UI: which key/mouse events would you bind this to (since using M-x ... for those would likely get annoying pretty quickly).

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