I'm trying to adapt this answer to use-package elegantly. It requires that I hook a lambda function to python-mode. I came up with this solution — which works:

(use-package python
  (python-mode . (lambda ()
                   (setq indent-tabs-mode t)
                   (setq tab-width 4)
                   (setq python-indent-offset 4))))

but I find it inelegant, as it requires me to repeat "python-mode" inside the use-package for python (shouldn't that be obvious?). Is there a better way, and if not, why? I'm not sure I understand well the hook process in use-package.

  • 1
    Hook is to add something for this package on another module load hook, like prog-mode would be. That's why you need to give its name first. In this case why not just place those variables in :config?
    – Muihlinn
    Commented May 29, 2020 at 16:23
  • See Hooks in use-package.
    – NickD
    Commented May 29, 2020 at 16:52
  • @Muihlinn Thank you for this clarification. So using a hook on a package is exactly the same as putting the hook function inside :config ? I reread your first sentence 5 times and still find it a little cryptic. It means that in use-package, :hook is used to load a package that the current package would need if a different third package were loaded, is that it?
    – kotchwane
    Commented May 29, 2020 at 19:16
  • 3
    In this case, indent-tabs-mode and tab-width are buffer-local variables, and since they potentially have optimal values that differ depending on the major mode you're in, they should NOT be moved inside :config as suggested (unless you always want to have that as default, for all major modes). You might move python-indent-offset though. :config has code that is evaluated after the major mode is loaded (usually once), and the functions you add to the hook are called every time a new buffer triggers that major mode. Commented May 30, 2020 at 20:58
  • 1
    Your question seems to be "shouldn't it be obvious that if I'm configuring a package called X and I want to add to a hook, that the hook name would be X-mode-hook?". The answer is no, it's not obvious. It might well be a common case, but it's absolutely not a given.
    – phils
    Commented May 31, 2020 at 0:30

1 Answer 1


Potentially the simplification of defaulting to <modename>-mode-hook, for a given <modename>, could have been implemented in use-package, yes, since it is in the Major Mode Conventions. However, it seems the authors decided to use this notation to simplify adding the current package (the package in the current use-package declaration) to another hook; see [here]. Also, notice that hooks may be used for several other reasons than to start major modes, so their name may vary a lot.

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