Is there a way to see the values of a list of variables? E.g., if I have var1, var2 and var3, is there a standard elisp function that shows me the values of these variables at the same time?

I mean something that returns an output like:

var1   nil
var2   t
var3   nil

I don't need the output to be a string. I just need to read it in a window.

Please note that I asked if is there an emacs standard function that already does it. Otherwise every help is welcome but I can also try to do it by myself.

  • By "returns an output like..." do mean you want the function to return a string with the values formatted as you specified? Or do you want the function to insert this in a buffer perhaps? Could you be more specific? Feb 16, 2021 at 19:03
  • @Aquaactress I updated my question. Thank you for pointing this detail. Feb 16, 2021 at 19:56

2 Answers 2


This is a slight elaboration of Aquaactress' answer that uses an Org mode code block to produce a table. It uses -zip-with from the dash package.

#+begin_src emacs-lisp
  (setq x 'foo y 'bar z 'baz)

  (setq l '(x y z))

  (-zip-with #'list (mapcar #'symbol-name l) (mapcar #'symbol-value l))


| x | foo |
| y | bar |
| z | baz |

BTW, I tried producing the pairs with a function and failed miserably:

#+begin_src emacs-lisp
  (setq x 'foo y 'bar z 'baz)

  (setq l '(x y z))

  (defun symbol-name-value (x)
    (list (symbol-name x) (symbol-value x)))

  (mapcar #'symbol-name-value l)


| x | x   |
| y | bar |
| z | baz |

The failure is obvious in retrospect, but I don't know how to fix it.


The relevant function is symbol-value.

According to its documentation:

symbol-value is a function defined in C source code.

(symbol-value SYMBOL)

Return SYMBOL's value.  Error if that is void.

Note that if lexical-binding is in effect, this returns the
global value outside of any lexical scope.

This is an example of using it on a list of variables.

(mapcar #'symbol-value '(emacs-version emacs-build-time evil-undo-system))
;;=> ("27.1 nil nil)


I copied your desired ouput and wrote a function which returns a string. Not that we need to use unique symbols so we avoid the possibility of running into scope problems (when a variable you want to print has the same name as the parameter of the lambda).

(defun my/tabular-values (variable-list)
  (let ((var (gensym "var")))
    (mapc `(lambda (,var)
         (thread-last (symbol-value ,var)
           (format "%S %S\n" ,var)

(let ((var1 nil)
      (var2 t)
      (var3 nil))
  (my/tabular-values '(var1 var2 var3)))

;; The following is inserted into buffer after using `eval-print-last-sexp`.

var1   nil
var2   t
var3   nil
  • I updated my question. Thanks Feb 16, 2021 at 16:41
  • I can easily use your code to write a function that shows the values in a temp buffer. I'll wait to see if other answers come. Otherwise I'll accept your answer. Thanks. Feb 16, 2021 at 20:03
  • Your function suffers from the same problem that the function in my answer suffers: try changing var3 to var in the the let form (in both places).
    – NickD
    Feb 16, 2021 at 22:53
  • Could use a UUID in place of var in function :-) uuid | sed -e 's/-//g' -e 's/^/uuid/
    – alls0rts
    Feb 17, 2021 at 18:48
  • @NickD I don't understand. Could you elaborate? What problem was that? Feb 17, 2021 at 18:50

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