I am writing python code so shifting/moving blocks of lines is important to avoid going through each line individually. How can I do this without an add-on? Is there a type of operation keystroke command to do this?


5 Answers 5


Use command indent-rigidly, which is bound to C-x TAB by default.

You can specify the number of spaces to indent by using a prefix argument, such as C-5 C-x TAB.

Or you can invoke the command and then use the left/right arrows to interactively adjust the indent level.

  • how do you add a prefix argument?
    – Vass
    Feb 21, 2015 at 18:46
  • 2
    Try for example C-5 C-x TAB to indent the current region 5 spaces.
    – glucas
    Feb 21, 2015 at 18:51
  • great, but why does the first line not move as well? I have to grab the last part of the line above the selection to make the set of lines I want move.
    – Vass
    Feb 21, 2015 at 18:52
  • 1
    You shouldn't need to select anything from the previous line, but you do want to select from the beginning of the first line you want to indent. For example, C-a to move to the beginning of the line, C-SPC to start marking the region, C-n C-n to move down a couple lines, C-5 C-x TAB to indent those two lines.
    – glucas
    Feb 21, 2015 at 18:56
  • 1
    "use the left/right arrows to interactively adjust the indent level" Really? Great! I didn't know this, and sometimes I had to guess how much spaces I need to add or remove. I hope this can help. Feb 21, 2015 at 19:02

If you are used python-mode.el C-c > or C-c < to shift blocks left or right

  • how come the first line of the selection remains unmoved if I don't select the last part of the line above it?
    – Vass
    Feb 21, 2015 at 18:50
  • I cannot reproduce this behaviour. all line of a selections are moved. Emacs 24.4
    – Lompik
    Feb 21, 2015 at 18:54
  • glucas' comment says that this will happen if you don't select from the start of the line
    – Vass
    Feb 21, 2015 at 21:39

The string-rectangle command ( C-x r t) can be used to insert any arbitrary text (spaces included) in a selected region.

Let's say you have this block of text and you want to insert 5 spaces in front of all lines.


First select a "0 column" region as shown below (the point is on the character 'a' and the mark is in the same column in the row containing 'ghi':

▯   ghi

Now using string-rectangle, insert the text you want to insert in the selected region. In this example, we will be inserting 5 spaces on all the rows including and inbetween the point and the mark.

C-x r t M-5 SPC RET

That will give the below force indented text.


There is C-x TAB (bound to indent-rigidly). Give it a prefix argument to indicate how many spaces you wish to indent by, negative removes that many spaces.


I found that by pressing Alt-4 and then SPC, I get the desired result. Not sure if this is the best way, but it works as well.

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