What I want to accomplish is to add a keybinding C-<backspace> to the eshell-mod-map that calls func. That can be done like this,

(use-package eshell
  (defun add-func-keybinding ()
      (kbd "C-<backspace>")
      (lambda ()
        (func "arg"))))
  (eshell-mode . add-func-keybinding))

Now C-<backspace> only calls func when inside an eshell buffer. I thought this should be equivalent to,

(use-package eshell
  :after esh-mode
  (:map eshell-mode-map
     ("C-<backspace>" . (lambda () (interactive) (func "arg")))))

However, this binds C-<backspace> to func everywhere, e. g., if I press C-<backspace> in the *scratch* buffer, that also calls func. This does not happen when the configuration is done as in the former use-package declaration, there the keybinding is kept only inside the eshell buffer.

However, I fail to see the difference between the two declarations. I would like to fix the latter so it has the same effect as the former, since the latter is a bit clearer and nicer. How can I do this?

1 Answer 1


I would write it that way.

(use-package esh-mode
  :bind (:map eshell-mode-map
              ("C-<backspace>" . my-eshell-mode-func))
  :config (defun my-eshell-mode-func ()
            (func "arg")))

For two reasons:

To answer your "why":
Because your first use-package form binds a define-key form to the hook eshell-mode-hook, which is sort of unrelated to feature eshell (because it belongs to feature esh-mode). But this hook triggers everytime, the feature esh-mode goes into action.
In your second use-package form this connection to feature esh-mode is missing (:after esh-mode results in something different).

Edit: Here is some fun: in old versions of file esh-mode.el eshell-mode-map gets fille as local variable, right in that moment, when eshell-mode was enabled by the user. With killing of the buffer eshell-mode-map went nil again. There is even a comment in source code:

;; FIXME: What the hell!?

That is probably the reason why your first use-package form uses a hook.
This setup of eshell-mode-map as a buffer local variable is still present in version 26.3 of Emacs. So binding your define-key to hook eshell-mode-hook is a valid option until you upgrade.
In more recent versions this has been fixed and my above solution should work.

Be aware, I cannot test this solution, because my emacs is way to old and does not has the line (provide 'esh-mode) in file esh-mode.el. And my OS does not map a backspace key to my physical keyboard.

  • Tested what you have with func replaced with message. Unfortunately, the keybinding was available in *scratch* mode.
    – scribe
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 20:56
  • This sounds like some sort of bug. Anyway, which emacs version are you using? There have been changes in file esh-mode.el. Read my answer again and check for the comment in your esh-mode.el.
    – jue
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 21:00
  • I am using 26.3, could you tell me where to find the esh-mode.el?
    – scribe
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 21:06
  • github.com/emacs-mirror/emacs/tags you can extract this source code to your harddisk and make it known to emacs with variable source-directory you can then easily look up source code of functions and features.
    – jue
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 21:10
  • this weird local variable of eshell-mode-map is still present in 26.3. so you need a hook to set up your key until you upgrade to a more recent version.
    – jue
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 21:16

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