Please see the picture below. Why are some things colored orange? I can't figure out what Face is causing that. This is using Ivy/Counsel.

enter image description here

  • 1
    Is it the face counsel-active-mode?
    – Basil
    Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 21:04
  • Never used ivy/counsel before, so I installed them and enabled ivy-mode. M-x then gives me a monochromatic list (altough I only get the LH column: probably missing an option). So probably ivy/counsel have something to do with it, but maybe they are not the whole story?
    – NickD
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 1:06
  • Indeed, counsel-active-mode was the culprit. Thanks! Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


You originally had tag minibuffer. Where is what you see in the screenshot? Is it in a buffer where you can place the cursor? If so, put the cursor on one of those lines and use C-u C-x =. The *Help* buffer will then tell you which faces are used at that buffer position (near the bottom of *Help*).

If you can't put your cursor on any of that text then you can try using M-x list-faces-display and seeing if you can match what you see against the display of faces. E.g., look for face names that start with whatever prefix Ivy/Counsel uses generally.

Otherwise, you can check the source code of the library responsible for this, e.g. Ivy or Counsel. Look for defface (e.g. use M-x grep).

As for why different faces are used, look at the doc strings of the two faces, using M-x describe-face. That should tell you something about the specific purpose of each face.

  • 1
    The screenshot is of the minibuffer. When I put my cursor over one of the orange options, it highlights it so the face changes, so C-u C-x = wasn't helpful there. Prior to posting this question I did look at M-x list-faces-display for Ivy, but didn't think to do so for Counsel. There is a Face called Counsel-active-mode which seems to be causing the behavior I've asked about as noted in one of the comments to my question. Changing it fixes the issue. Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 17:28
  • On another note, I noticed you deleted the minibuffer tag. Since this is happening in the minibuffer I thought it was appropriate. Can you help me understand why that tag is not appropriate here? Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 17:29
  • Glad you found the face and solved your problem. I removed tag minibuffer because I wasn't sure (still am not) that that displayed text is actually in the minibuffer. @Shynur reinstated the tag, so probably it is appropriate. I'm still guessing (blindly) that that displayed text may be, e.g., from an overlay on the minibuffer.
    – Drew
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 17:39

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