I have a non-interactive function F to do post processing after each command. F is buffer locally hooked to post-command-hook.

Whenever F is hooked the prefix argument is eaten and the next command does not get it.

How can I preserve the prefix argument when hooking a function to post-command-hook ?

EDIT: There is no issue with the prefix argument and the function F being hooked as the selected answer shows.

My issue was that the function (let's call it A) that did not worked properly could be either called directly (which had a working behavior) or called from a push-button (in this case the prefix argument was not passed to A).

  • Can you set the universal argument inside the applicable function to a buffer-local variable value that can be picked up by the post-command-hook and then reset it to nil once that hook runs its course?
    – lawlist
    Dec 30, 2014 at 22:10
  • I'm note sure it will help. More info on the use case: say I have an interactive command C. If I hook F to post-hook-commandthen C never sees the prefix argument.
    – syl20bnr
    Dec 30, 2014 at 22:24
  • "Whenever F is hooked the prefix argument is eaten and the next command does not get it." What "next command"? Functions in the post-command-hook are ran after the actual command.
    – Malabarba
    Dec 30, 2014 at 22:34
  • This isn't making much sense. Please post a self-contained code snippet that defines and sets this hook, tell us what series of action to perform (e.g “type C-u 3 a”), the behavior you observe, and the behavior you want to achieve instead. Dec 30, 2014 at 22:42
  • When I have a non interactive function F hooked in post-command-hook. Then pressing 1 RET (in this case the command is bound to RET) does not receive the prefix argument. There is not much to say than this.
    – syl20bnr
    Dec 30, 2014 at 22:44

1 Answer 1


test-fn is run first, at which time the variable my-universal-arg is set (if there was a universal argument called before pressing the f5 key). Then, the post-command-hook gets triggered and it picks up the variable my-universal-arg (if that variable was set by calling a universal argument before pressing the f5key), and then the message plays displaying the argument and the variable my-universal-arg is then set back to nil.

NOTE:  If the variable my-universal-arg is made to be buffer-local, then the appropriate functions will need to either be occurring in the target buffer or something like with-current-buffer . . . would need to be used to pick up the variable bound to the corresponding buffer.

(defvar my-universal-arg nil)

(defun test-fn (arg)
(interactive "P")
  (if arg
    (setq my-universal-arg arg)
    (message "No `arg` was specified.")))

(define-key global-map [f5] 'test-fn)

(defun post-command-hook-fn ()
  (when my-universal-arg
    (message "This is `my-universal-arg`:  %s" my-universal-arg)
    (setq my-universal-arg nil)))

(add-hook 'post-command-hook 'post-command-hook-fn)
  • You example works. But the behavior I have is just non sense.
    – syl20bnr
    Dec 31, 2014 at 2:27
  • My best guess is that the shelf-life of the current-prefix-arg is rather short in duration (i.e., the duration of the interactive command); whereas, you would prefer that the shelf-life extend through to the end of the post-command-hook running all functions attached to it. At some point the current-prefix-arg needs to go back to nil and it is probably happening before all of the functions attached to the post-command-hook finish running their course.
    – lawlist
    Dec 31, 2014 at 2:49
  • I mark your answer as correct because it shows that the prefix argument is correctly handled with hooked functions in post-command-hook. Now my issue was that the interactive function executed was either called directly or called from a push-button! And the push-button does not pass the current prefix argument, it has to be passed explicitly with current-prefix-arg. I had no idea that push-button was used for something that did not require it. Sorry for the mess!
    – syl20bnr
    Dec 31, 2014 at 3:03
  • Question updated to reflect the source of the confusion.
    – syl20bnr
    Dec 31, 2014 at 3:08

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