I recently installed spacemacs with the python mode and would like to change the default indentation to be TAB instead of four spaces. What I did is I added (setq-default indent-tabs-mode t tab-width 4) to my just after(setq initial-major-mode 'text-mode) in my config.el. Unfortunately, when I open a python file, I can see that indentation is still done with 4 spaces instead of one TAB. Did any of you come across this issue before ? Thanks in advance

1 Answer 1


Anaconda-mode is a minor-mode which has nothing to do with indentation AFAIK. So I assume that you actually mean python-mode.

The second line in python-mode is

(set (make-local-variable 'indent-tabs-mode) nil)

which overrides the default value.

So you must set indent-tabs-mode in python-mode-hook:

(add-hook 'python-mode-hook (lambda () (setq indent-tabs-mode t)))

Using spacemacs you can add that line to the function dotspacemacs/user-config in your spacemacs initialization file -- most likely ~/.spacemacs.d/init.el or ~/.spacemacs.

  • And the previous line similarly sets tab-width to 8. python-mode purposefully makes it difficult, because Python's layout rules mean that it's easy to shoot oneself in the foot. E.g. the Python language defines TABs as occupying 8 columns, so using a tab-width different from 8 means that the file will not be displayed in the way that python will interpret it. It may still work, of course, but: buyer beware.
    – Stefan
    Jun 4, 2018 at 16:02
  • 1
    @Stefan AFAIK it is no problem if one uses consistently tabs for indentation. Real problems occur if one mixes tabs and spaces.
    – Tobias
    Jun 4, 2018 at 16:08
  • @Stefan I tended to (define-minor-mode indent-tabs-mode "Toggle indent-tabs-mode.") (add-hook 'python-mode-hook #'indent-tabs-mode). Is there any reason why indent-tabs-mode is not defined as a real minor-mode? (If you want I can also ask this as a proper question here on emacs.sx.)
    – Tobias
    Jun 4, 2018 at 16:13
  • Thanks for your answer, I am really new on spacemacs could you advise me in which of the function (python/init-python maybe?) I should paste the code you prioovided in your answer Jun 4, 2018 at 17:02
  • @RobinNicole I added some text about the installation of the hook in your init-file at the end of the answer.
    – Tobias
    Jun 4, 2018 at 20:55

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