I know that describe-mode will describe the current major mode. Is it possible to describe a mode, and I will input the mode name?

2 Answers 2


Use describe-function by typing C-h f and, when asked for the function, type the name of the mode which is itself a function.

  • That will describe the function which will load the mode, not the mode.
    – Muihlinn
    Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 17:09
  • try it! @Muihlinn Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 17:26
  • 1
    Yes. The value of variable major-mode is the symbol bound to the function that turns a major mode on - so describe-function for that function describes the major mode. The value of variable mode-name is the string naming the mode, which you see in the mode-line.
    – Drew
    Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 18:11
  • It doesn't describe nothing more than the function itself in my setup, at least with the modes I tried before posting first comment, as they came to mind. Those could be extremely quiet in their ouptut, but definately not what I get when I ask C-h m from a buffer.
    – Muihlinn
    Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 18:33
  • I get a description of what the mode is for followed by a complete list of key bindings Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 19:09

You can call describe-minor-mode to get help on any minor mode. It prompts you to enter either a symbol or an indicator from your mode line, and gives you the help for that mode. I don't think that there's anying similar for major modes.

  • This generally calls describe-function. In cases where the minor mode is just a variable (being acted on without a mode function being involved), then it will call describe-variable instead. Major modes always have a function, so there is no need for anything more than describe-function.
    – phils
    Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 6:36

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