I have show-paren-mode enabled, but the highlighting behavior unintuitive. In particular, the matching parentheses are only highlighted in two situations as shown below (the second of which is unintuitive):

  1. Cursor on the opening parenthesis (which is expected behavior):

    ( some characters here ) some more characters here
    cursor must be at the caret for highlighting to show
  2. Cursor on the character after the closing parenthesis (which is unintuitive):

    ( some characters here ) some more characters here
                            cursor must be at the caret for highlighting to show


Is there a way for the matching parentheses to be highlighted when the cursor is on the closing parenthesis?

Like this:

( some characters here ) some more characters here
  • 2
    This does not answer your question, but the cursor is never actually "on" any character. It is before or after a character. A block cursor that is just before a character can look like it is on the character, but it's not. (So the behavior you want is for the highlighting to occur when the cursor is before the closing paren, not after it.) – Drew Aug 5 '19 at 2:39
  • @Drew, thanks for the clarification! I shall do more Googling with this newly acquired information 💪 – yongjieyongjie Aug 5 '19 at 4:52
  • 1
    @AndreasRöhler I assume that x is a number in your phrase "cursor is at position x". The cursor represents point and point represents positions between characters. That makes the difference between (buffer-size) and (point-max). The first point position is that one before the first character the last one is that one behind the last character. So (point-max) is (1+ (buffer-size)). If you set cursor-type to bar. That actually represents the cursor position better than boxor hollow. Position actually means kind of "Insertion Position". – Tobias Aug 5 '19 at 13:11
  • 2
    You can partially achieve that effect when you set show-paren-when-point-inside-paren to t. Let | be the cursor. In (|ignore) highlight () of ignore. In (ignore|) highlight () of ignore. In (progn (ignore)|) highlight () of ignore. In (progn (ignore))| highlight () of progn. – Tobias Aug 6 '19 at 14:26
  • 1
    This is not an answer but maybe you are interested in another solution as well. I like to combine show-paren-mode with highlight-parentheses-mode and only highlight one level of surrounding parens using (setq hl-paren-colors '("steel blue")), this way you always get the surrounding parens highlighted (which includes the situation where the point is right before the closing paren as in you example), too. – clemera Aug 7 '19 at 6:53

The following mutilating shortening of show-paren--locate-near-paren does what you want.

Copy these lines into your init file and restart Emacs.

(defun show-paren--locate-near-paren-ad ()
  "Locate an unescaped paren \"near\" point to show.
If one is found, return the cons (DIR . OUTSIDE), where DIR is 1
for an open paren, -1 for a close paren, and OUTSIDE is the buffer
position of the outside of the paren.  Otherwise return nil."
  (let* ((before (show-paren--categorize-paren (point))))
    (when (or
       (eq (car before) 1)
       (eq (car before) -1))

(advice-add 'show-paren--locate-near-paren :override #'show-paren--locate-near-paren-ad)
  • thanks for the code and for pointing to the source! I'll study them and try the code out. – yongjieyongjie Aug 7 '19 at 10:12

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