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Álvaro Ramírez

Álvaro Ramírez

16 May 2024 Emacs: git rename, courtesy of dired

Emacs wdired is a beautiful thing. You turn a directory representation into an editable buffer and you can do some magic. By magic, I mean you can apply your favourite text-editing commands to a directory and do some file management.

Take, for example, batch-renaming. Turn wdired on via dired-toggle-read-only, use something like Magnar's multiple-cursors (or built-in keyboard macros) and commit via wdired-finish-edit (using the often-familar C-c C-c binding). You've now renamed multiple files as it if were any other text buffer. Pretty magical.


One downside (or so I thought) is that wdired didn't automagically also take care of git renames for me, you know DWIM-style.

Every time I renamed anything via wdired and subsequently pulled up my trusty magit, I was a little sad it wasn't all just handled… The renamed files were seen as deleted, along with all the untracked counterparts.


So, I set out to change this unacceptable state of affairs 😀. I started off by setting a breakpoint on wdired-finish-edit via edebug (see why this util is awesome).

I wanted to see what wdired-finish-edit did under the hood, which led me to dired-rename-file. As I stepped through the code, I spotted the dired-vc-rename-file variable, which does exactly what you think it does 🤦.

One setq later…

(setq dired-vc-rename-file t)

…and boom! From now on, renaming from dired does exactly what you would expect. Here's magit to prove it:


lol. I was so fixated on "adding git rename support", that I forgot to first search the documentation.

While you can search for variables via the built-in describe-variable, I'm a fan of Wilfred's helpful equivalent: helpful-variable. Coupled with with your favourite completion framework (Abo Abo's ivy for me), it's as easy a fuzzy searching for anything you're after:


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