Created: 2008-04-25 15:06
Updated: 2019-02-28 03:05

Emacs RSpec Mode

RSpec mode provides some convenience functions for dealing with RSpec.


You can install via ELPA, or manually by downloading rspec-mode and adding the following to your init file:

(add-to-list 'load-path "/path/to/rspec-mode")
(require 'rspec-mode)

Provided you have yasnippet installed, you can load the snippets:

(eval-after-load 'rspec-mode

(This isn't done automatically to avoid conflicts with snippets you may already have set up.)


If rspec-mode is installed properly, it will be started automatically when ruby-mode is started.

RSpec Verifiable mode

These keybindings are available in any Ruby source file:

Keybinding Description
C-c , v Verify the spec file associated with the current buffer
C-c , a Run spec for entire project
C-c , t Toggle back and forth between a spec and its target
C-c , e Toggle back and forth between a method and its examples in the spec file
C-c , 4 t Find in the other window the spec or the target file
C-c , 4 e As above, but try to navigate to the example or method corresponding to point
C-c , r Re-run the last verification process
C-c , y Yank the last verification command to clipboard
C-c , m Run all specs related to the current buffer
C-c , c Run the current spec and all after it
C-c , s Verify the example or method defined at point
C-c , f Re-run just the failed examples from the last run

RSpec mode

These keybindings are available in Ruby spec files:

Keybinding Description
C-c , s Run the specified example at point
C-c , d Toggle the pendingness of the example at point

RSpec Dired mode

These keybindings are available in Dired buffers:

Keybinding Description
C-c , v Run all specs in the current directory
C-c , s Run marked specs or spec at point (works with directories too)
C-c , a Run the 'spec' rake task for the project of the current file
C-c , r Re-run the last RSpec invocation

See rspec-mode.el for further usage.


Any functions in rspec-before-verification-hook will be executed before the verification (rspec-verify) and variants.

Any functions in rspec-after-verification-hook will be executed after the verification (rspec-verify) and variants. The hook will be executed whatever the outcome of the verification.



To use binding.pry or byebug, install inf-ruby and add this to your init file:

(add-hook 'after-init-hook 'inf-ruby-switch-setup)

When you've hit the breakpoint, hit C-x C-q to enable inf-ruby.


If you use RVM, you may have to set rspec-use-rvm to true to make rspec-mode function properly:

(setq rspec-use-rvm t)

Or set it using Emacs' customization system.


If you use ZSH and RVM, you may encounter problems running the specs. It may be so that an older version of Ruby, than the one you specified in .rvmrc, is used. This is because ZSH runs a small script each time a shell is created, which modifies the $PATH. The problem is that it prepends some default paths, such as /usr/bin, which contains another ruby binary.

What you can do to solve this is to use BASH for running the specs. This piece of code does the job:

(defadvice rspec-compile (around rspec-compile-around)
  "Use BASH shell for running the specs because of ZSH issues."
  (let ((shell-file-name "/bin/bash"))

(ad-activate 'rspec-compile)


You can run specs inside a Vagrant box. You can enable it through the rspec-use-vagrant-when-possible customization option. You can also set the directory where your project is inside your box through the rspec-vagrant-cwd option. This will run specs through the vagrant ssh -c 'cd <cwd>; <rspec command>'.


You can run specs inside a Docker container. This can be enabled through the rspec-use-docker-when-possible option. This enabled, rspec is executed through docker-compose run. The following customization options are available:

Option Default value Description
rspec-use-docker-when-possible nil Enable docker
rspec-docker-command docker-compose run Docker command to run
rspec-docker-cwd /app/ Path rspec to run in inside of the container
rspec-docker-container rspec-container-name Name of the container to run rspec into

To define the options for different projects, have a look at Per-Directory Local Variables.


Set compilation-scroll-output. For example, (setq compilation-scroll-output t) will turn on auto scrolling.

Multiple Compilation Buffer Support

RSpec Mode can support running multiple RSpec compilation buffers concurrently with the rspec-allow-multiple-compilation-buffers option. To turn this on:

(setq rspec-allow-multiple-compilation-buffers t)


Love RSpec and Emacs? Great, help out by contributing. The easiest way to contribute is to checkout the git project, make a change and then submit a pull request.

Note on Patches/Pull Requests

  • Fork the project.
  • Make your feature addition or bug fix.
  • Update the version and changelog in the header of rspec-mode.el to reflect the change.
  • Send me a pull request. Bonus points for topic branches.
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