Is there an Emacs feature for highlighting some lines in a file to make it easier to jump around? My immediate use-case is a gigantic auto-generated C++ file with horrible indentation, which is rather difficult to navigate and it's easy to get lost. At the moment, I'm adding comments of the form // LOC-1 to find where I've just been, but that feels a bit icky.

I know that some other text editors have this tied in with their bookmark mechanism (sublime text?) and you can add a blue blob to the left gutter. Maybe there's a way to show Emacs bookmarks in the gutter? Or maybe there's a different feature that shows something like this or highlighted lines?

I'm not concerned with this persisting across closing and opening the file, or with multiple buffers viewing it: either persistent or not is fine with me.

Is there an easy way for me to leave myself some "breadcrumbs"?

  • The answer I gave is more in line with your question, however, I wanted to mention evil-mode which emulates vim. This allows you to set "invisible" marks. For example mm would create a mark named "m" and ma would create a mark called "a". You could then navigate to line "m" with 'm and navigate to line "a" with 'a. You could navigate to the marked position on "m" with `m and the marked position on "a" with `a. Of course, evil has a learning curve. Feb 6, 2019 at 13:46

2 Answers 2


There are several ways to do this. One of my preferred methods is the bm package. The package provides visual bookmarks:

enter image description here

The setup is dead simple:

(require 'bm)
(global-set-key (kbd "<C-f2>") 'bm-toggle)
(global-set-key (kbd "<f2>")   'bm-next)
(global-set-key (kbd "<S-f2>") 'bm-previous)

You can change the color of the bookmark with

(set-face-attribute 'bm-face nil :background "RoyalBlue4" :foreground 'unspecified)

Use the list-colors command to find something more suitable to your theme than RoyalBlue4.

  • 1
    I'd recommend to use instead of C-f2 better s-f2 as C-f2 is set to switch Desktops in some Linux versions
    – Qohelet
    May 15, 2019 at 12:06

bm.el may do what you request, but Bookmark+ does everything that bm.el does, and much more. And it uses the same kind of bookmarks that vanilla Emacs uses. Emacs bookmarks record more information than just a location.

Relevant to your request, you can have:

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