When using ivy, say I want the current match to be red when calling counsel-M-x, but blue when calling counsel-find-file.

Is there a simple way of changing ivy-current-match depending on the function calling it?

1 Answer 1


AFAIK, there is no built-in support for this, but Ivy provides various hooks that you can plug your own logic into. Here is one way to achieve what you want, using the ivy-hooks-alist user option:

(defvar my-ivy-match-faces
  '((counsel-M-x (:background "red")))
  "Alist mapping Ivy callers to a list of face specs.
Used by `my-ivy-remap-match-face', which see.")

(defun my-ivy-remap-match-face ()
  "Locally remap `ivy-current-match' to caller-specific face specs.
Which face specs to apply for each caller is determined by
`my-ivy-match-faces'.  If the current caller is unknown, or if
there is no entry for it, no remapping is applied."
  (when-let* ((caller (ivy-state-caller ivy-last))
              (specs  (alist-get caller my-ivy-match-faces)))
    (apply #'face-remap-add-relative 'ivy-current-match specs)))

(with-eval-after-load 'ivy
  ;; Remap the current match face as the default Ivy hook.  Note that specifying
  ;; a different hook for a particular caller will override this setting.
  (setf (alist-get t ivy-hooks-alist) #'my-ivy-remap-match-face))

The idea here is to look up the current Ivy caller (e.g. counsel-M-x) right after Ivy has set up the minibuffer, and then locally remap[1] the ivy-current-match face to a list of face specs of your choosing. In the sample code above, I have remapped the background to be red for counsel-M-x (see the variable my-ivy-match-faces).

Note that the way I modify ivy-hooks-alist, namely by setting my-ivy-remap-match-face as the default fallback hook, is kind of brittle. This is because any subsequent addition to this alist may override my-ivy-remap-match-face. Vanilla Ivy does not modify ivy-hooks-alist, so this is not an issue at the moment, but it may become one in the future or if you use other packages which modify this user option.

A more robust solution would then be to submit a feature request or PR[2] to make ivy-hooks-alist more flexible, e.g. by supporting multiple hooks per caller, and always running the default fallback hooks.

If that is not an option, you can advise[3] specific entries in ivy-hooks-alist to do your bidding. I will be happy to provide a sample implementation of this if asked.

  • this is almost perfect. Your solution changes the color of the current line. The only issue is that when I start typing, the matched characters show up in the default color of ivy-current-match. I tried to fix this by also remapping ivy-prompt-match, but this doesn't seem to control the color of the matched characters. Feb 10, 2020 at 18:56
  • @scaramouche I cannot reproduce what you describe. Please update your question with a step-by-step reproduction recipe, describing what you expect and what you actually see, ideally with screenshots, at every step.
    – Basil
    Feb 17, 2020 at 9:25

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