2014-10-28

Keyboard activated favorites menu using "simple menu items"

Some time back I wanted to create a keyboard activated menu with one-key access to some favorite commands that I did not want to give one-key bindings in the global keymap and for which I do not want to type the names on the M-x prompt. I was going to write my own command to read the key for the favorite command. However, it turns out Emacs already had more or less what I wanted in the form of simple menu items.

I chose to use the "apps" key (on keyboards with two Windows keys, it's the key to the right of the right Windows key, with a little menu symbol on it) since I did not use that for anything in Emacs.

Here is how to try this little hack out (FYI the key/command combinations below are just examples and not the actual keys and commands I wanted to use):

(defvar my-favorties-map (make-sparse-keymap "Favorites"))

(define-key global-map (kbd "<apps>") my-favorties-map)

(define-key my-favorties-map (kbd "f") 
  (cons "Find file"
        'find-file))

(define-key my-favorties-map (kbd "s")
  (cons "Save current buffer"
        'save-buffer))

(define-key my-favorties-map (kbd "i")
  (cons "Kill buffer"
        'kill-buffer))

After evaluating the above, when typing the "apps" key, the following "menu" will be displayed in the echo minibuffer:

 Favorites: i = Kill buffer, Save current buffer, Find file

It does what I want, although it is a little bit peculiar in how it decides for what bindings it will show X = Command for, and not. Seems that if the name of the menu item/command begins with the same letter/key that is bound to the command, it will not show it.

So, there it is, an instant little text based menu for executing favorite commands.

Enjoy!

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