I’ve discovered recently another Emacs facility that I since then use several times a day, and I wonder how I did without it before: C-M-SPC runs the command mark-sexp.

*Well, `mark-sexp` apparently is related to the Sex Pistols*

It’s pretty simple actually, when you have the point at the beginning of a word or an identifier (containing numbers, dashes, underscores and other punctuation signs), you can select the whole of it in a single key chord!

The best thing is that if you press the same key chord again, it will expand to include the next expression. And that works in plain text and most programming languages where I’ve tried it, which is not so much recently. It does not depend that much on the programming language anyway.

The full general solution here is to use something like expand region, don’t miss the Emacs Rocks Expand Region Episode, it’s less than 3 minutes and you will want to install expand-region after that. For easy installing, of course you are already using el-get right?

Now, a friend just asked this morning how to select the current word even when the the point is currently in the middle of it. Going manually back to the beginning of it is no fun. I knew about thing-at-point and a little about how it works, but didn’t find anything readily made for that use case (hint: it needs to be an interactive command).

Here’s what I came up with, then:

(defun mha:select-current-word ()
  "Select the current word."
  (beginning-of-thing 'symbol)
  (push-mark (point) nil t)
  (end-of-thing 'symbol)

(global-set-key (kbd "C-S-M-SPC") 'mha:select-current-word)

I picked C-M-S-SPC not because it’s the easiest way to invoke the new command, but because to me it’s a quite natural extension to the C-M-SPC that I use so often. Again, each time you want to select a identifier in some code of yours, you’d most certainly be better off using C-M-SPC.