I'm particularly concerned with git, but I imagine this is a good place to use vc. I want to emulate Atom's git integration with its file explorer:


How can I get something like this in dired? I understand there are other tools for simulating a proper tree structure, but the normal i/RET workflow should work just fine.

  • Just to clarify (since I'm not familiar with Atom): Green would be untracked/new files. Dark Grey is files in .gitignore, light grey is up-to-date and orange is modified? Feb 23, 2015 at 19:52
  • @JonathanLeech-Pepin That's what is pictured, but faces are easy enough to M-x customize :) Feb 23, 2015 at 19:53
  • @JonathanLeech-Pepin I don't use Atom myself so I don't know if even it does this, but it would really neat if dired knew when things had been deleted in the work tree. Feb 23, 2015 at 20:00
  • 1
    I'm guessing this will need to end up being a dired-vc package that adjusts the faces of the files. Google doesn't seem to come up with anything. -> dired-after-readin-hook looks like an entry point for it (each listing is narrowed to after reading). Feb 23, 2015 at 20:04
  • 1
    A simple way is to use M-x vc-dir. It isn't quite the same as dired but it's pretty nice anyway. If you really want VC on dired, I think the only option is to write elisp to do it. Maybe not super hard since VC can already provide the information you need.
    – Tom Tromey
    Feb 24, 2015 at 14:21

3 Answers 3


You can install diff-hl from GNU ELPA and add the following to your init file:

(add-hook 'dired-mode-hook 'diff-hl-dired-mode)

But it doesn't color the lines. Instead, it shows statuses in the fringe (or the margin, if diff-hl-margin-mode is on). Looks like this:

enter image description here

  • Woah! Also, sorry! I checked back here almost by accident :) I'll give this a go today and see if it can be modified to suit my needs. In the event that I can get something working, would you mind if I edited the necessary patches into your answer so it can be complete? Mar 21, 2015 at 13:58
  • @SeanAllred Sure, as long as the added code uses the public functionality, and does not redefine any of the functions. In case you find you absolutely need that, better file a feature request.
    – Dmitry
    Mar 21, 2015 at 17:58
  • Naturally :) Though I will note that 'public functionality' is difficult to determine in emacs lisp :) Mar 21, 2015 at 18:01
  • 1
    @SeanAllred Well, vars and hook in this case, I guess. :)
    – Dmitry
    Mar 21, 2015 at 18:14
  • I'm accepting this because it answers the question I asked as written, but future readers should note the additional answer I provided for neotree's new support of this. Apr 29, 2015 at 16:26

This is an 'incomplete' set of elisp that will provide the feature set. Implementing a full list is left as an exercise (and/or as a full package to develop dired-vc (time-permitting)) for the reader.

Steps to complete the below with missing information:

  1. Obtain a list of all symbols returned by vc-state
  2. Define faces (defface) for each missing symbol
  3. Adjust the cond block to include all those symbols
(defun dired-fontify-vc ()
  (while (not (eobp))
    (let* ((inhibit-read-only t)
           (file (ignore-errors (file-name-nondirectory
           (state (ignore-errors (vc-state file))))
      (when (and file
        ; (message "%s>%s" file state)
        (let ((beg (dired-move-to-filename))
              (end (dired-move-to-end-of-filename)))
           ((eq state 'edited)
            (add-text-properties beg end '(font-lock-face edited-face)))
           ((eq state 'up-to-date)
            (add-text-properties beg end '(font-lock-face update-face)))))
    (dired-next-line 1)))

(add-hook 'dired-after-readin-hook 'dired-fontify-vc)

(defface edited-face
  '((t :foreground "orange"))
  "Foreground color for edited files")
(defface update-face
  '((t :foreground "white"))
  "Foreground color for up-to-date files.")
  • Two things: 1) This is a much slower solution, compared to what diff-hl-dired does (it uses the dir-status-files backend command), 2) this update-face is unreadable in the default theme.
    – Dmitry
    Jan 13, 2016 at 0:32

Not actually dired-based, but it is closer to the Atom screenshot provided. As of PR#93, neotree can display VCS status as part of the listing:


Here is the configuration that would effect the screenshot above:

(setq neo-vc-integration '(char face))

The presence of char controls the ? and E that you see. The presence of face controls the highlighting.

  • That looks nice, but without any info about your configuration … Mar 18, 2017 at 15:13
  • Belatedly addressed Jan 7, 2019 at 3:59

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