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Last night, I wanted to grab an item from my kill ring -- or one that I was pretty sure was there. Rather than rotating through the kill-ring with C-y and multiple M-y, I decided to view the value of the variable with C-h v (describe variable) and typed kill-ring.

I'm not sure what was in my kill-ring, but this action pegged the resources of my decently powered MacBook Pro and I ended up killing emacs to get the computer operable again.

This raises a few questions:

  1. Is there a safer way to view a kill-ring that is very large?
  2. What's going on in Emacs that this would cause broader issues outside of Emacs itself?

(I'm using GNU Emacs 23.3.1 (x86_64-apple-darwin, NS apple-appkit-1038.35) - downloaded from

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I suggest you use a browse-kill-ring package.

Put into your .emacs

(require 'browse-kill-ring)

and you will be able to browse the kill ring by typing M-y without first using C-y.

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Excuse the shameless plug, but here's my personal solution for that very problem: Incrementally searching the kill-ring.

enter image description here

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Ooooo, that looks interesting. I'll have to try that. Do you do anything special to handle unreasonably large items in the kill-ring? – Doug Harris Oct 14 '11 at 16:48
It just searches for the next match and only has to display one at a time. That's simply a lot less work than printing the entire kill ring. It takes a few seconds to display a multi-megabyte match, but not minutes like C-h v. – nschum Oct 14 '11 at 18:23

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