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This is a tool to manually explore and test HTTP REST webservices. Runs queries from a plain-text query sheet, displays results as a pretty-printed XML, JSON and even images.


You can easily install restclient using package.el from MELPA.

Alternatively, deploy restclient.el into your site-lisp as usual, then add (require 'restclient) to your Emacs start-up file.

Once installed, you can prepare a text file with queries.

restclient-mode is a major mode which does a bit of highlighting and supports a few additional keypresses:

  • C-c C-c: runs the query under the cursor, tries to pretty-print the response (if possible)
  • C-c C-r: same, but doesn't do anything with the response, just shows the buffer
  • C-c C-v: same as C-c C-c, but doesn't switch focus to other window
  • C-c C-p: jump to the previous query
  • C-c C-n: jump to the next query
  • C-c C-.: mark the query under the cursor
  • C-c C-u: copy query under the cursor as a curl command
  • C-c C-g: start a helm session with sources for variables and requests (if helm is available, of course)
  • C-c n n: narrow to region of current request (including headers)
  • TAB: hide/show current request body, only if
  • C-c C-a: show all collapsed regions
  • C-c C-i: show information on resclient variables at point

The last two functions are implemented as restclient-outline-mode minor mode, which is activated by default via hook for major mode. Remove this hook using (remove-hook 'restclient-mode-hook 'restclient-outline-mode) if you don't wish to have this behaviour, or it clashes with any other binding for TAB like autocomplete.

Query file example:

# -*- restclient -*-
# Gets  all Github APIs, formats JSON, shows response status and headers underneath.
# Also sends a User-Agent header, because the Github API requires this.
User-Agent: Emacs Restclient

# XML is supported - highlight, pretty-print

# It can even show an image!
# A bit of json GET, you can pass headers too
User-Agent: Emacs24
Accept-Encoding: compress, gzip

# Post works too, entity just goes after an empty line. Same is for PUT.
Content-Type: application/json

        "jql": "project = HCPUB",
        "startAt": 0,
        "maxResults": 15,
        "fields": [
# And delete, will return not-found error...

# Set a variable to the value of your ip address using a jq expression
-> jq-set-var :my-ip .origin

Lines starting with # are considered comments AND also act as separators.

HTTPS and image display requires additional dll's on windows (libtls, libpng, libjpeg etc), which are not in the emacs distribution.

More examples can be found in the examples directory.

In-buffer variables

You declare a variable like this:

:myvar = the value

or like this:

:myvar := (some (artbitrary 'elisp)

In second form, the value of variable is evaluated as Emacs Lisp form immediately. Evaluation of variables is done from top to bottom. Only one one-line form for each variable is allowed, so use (progn ...) and some virtual line wrap mode if you need more. There's no way to reference earlier declared restclient variables, but you can always use setq to save state.

Variables can be multiline too:

:myvar = <<
Authorization: :my-auth
Content-Type: application/json
User-Agent: SomeApp/1.0


:myvar := <<
    (code spanning many lines)

<< is used to mark a start of multiline value, the actual value is starting on the next line then. The end of such variable value is the same comment marker # and last end of line doesn't count, same is for request bodies.

After the var is declared, you can use it in the URL, the header values and the body.

# Some generic vars

:my-auth = 319854857345898457457
:my-headers = <<
Authorization: :my-auth
Content-Type: application/json
User-Agent: SomeApp/1.0

# Update a user's name

:user-id = 7
:the-name := (format "%s %s %d" 'Neo (md5 "The Chosen") (+ 100 1))

PUT http://localhost:4000/users/:user-id/

{ "name": ":the-name" }

Varaibles can also be set based on the body of a response using the per-request hooks

# set a variable :my-ip to the value of your ip address using elisp evaluated in the result buffer
-> run-hook (restclient-set-var ":my-ip" (cdr (assq 'origin (json-read))))

# same thing with jq if it's installed
-> jq-set-var :my-ip .origin

# set a variable :my-var using a more complex jq expression (requires jq-mode)
-> jq-set-var :my-var .slideshow.slides[0].title

# hooks come before the body on POST
-> jq-set-var :test .json.test

{"test": "foo"}

File uploads

Restclient now allows to specify file path to use as a body, like this:

Content-type: text/plain

< /etc/passwd


  • Multiline variables can be used in headers or body. In URL too, but it doesn't make sense unless it was long elisp expression evaluating to simple value.
  • Yet same variable cannot contain both headers and body, it must be split into two and separated by empty line as usual.
  • Variables now can reference each other, substitution happens in several passes and stops when there's no more variables. Please avoid circular references. There's customizable safeguard of maximum 10 passes to prevent hanging in this case, but it will slow things down.
  • Variable declaration only considered above request line.
  • Be careful of what you put in that elisp. No security checks are done, so it can format your hardrive. If there's a parsing or evaluation error, it will tell you in the minibuffer.
  • Elisp variables can evaluate to values containing other variable references, this will be substituted too. But you cannot substitute parts of elisp expressions.


There are several variables available to customize restclient to your liking. Also, all font lock faces are now customizable in resclient-faces group too.


Default: t

Determines whether restclient logs to the *Messages* buffer.

If non-nil, restclient requests will be logged. If nil, they will not be.


Default: t

Re-use same buffer for responses or create a new one each time.

If non-nil, re-use the buffer named by rest-client-buffer-response-name for all requests.

If nil, generate a buffer name based on the request type and url, and increment it for subsequent requests.

For example, GET would produce the following buffer names on 3 subsequent calls:

  • *HTTP GET*
  • *HTTP GET*<2>
  • *HTTP GET*<3>


Default: *HTTP Response*

Name for response buffer to be used when restclient-same-buffer-response is true.


Default: nil

Inhibit restclient from sending cookies implicitly.


Default: 100000

Size of the response buffer restclient can display without huge performance dropdown. If response buffer will be more than that, only bare major mode will be used to display it. Set to nil to disable threshold completely.

Known issues

  • Comment lines # act as end of entity. Yes, that means you can't post shell script or anything with hashes as PUT/POST entity. I'm fine with this right now, but may use more unique separator in future.
  • I'm not sure if it handles different encodings, I suspect it won't play well with anything non-ascii. I'm yet to figure it out.
  • Variable usages are not highlighted
  • If your Emacs is older than 26.1, some GET requests to localhost might fail because of that bug in Emacs/url.el. As a workaround you can use instead of localhost.


  • 01/Aug/2016 Added ability to narrow to region
  • 06/Apr/2016 Helm sources for variables and requests added.
  • 06/Apr/2016 File uploads! See upstairs for syntax.
  • 06/Apr/2016 Added customizable faces for all syntax highlighting, so it can be used in themes.
  • 05/Apr/2016 Added ability to declare multi-line variables (e.g. set of headers repeated for each request) and substitute variable values recursively.
  • 25/Mar/2015 Chop last newline from request body. If you really need to send one, just add one more, otherwise url-encoded POSTs will fail.
  • 15/Jun/2013 Added support for variables.

Related 3rd party packages

  • company-restclient: It provides auto-completion for HTTP methods and headers in restclient-mode. Completion source is given by know-your-http-well.
  • ob-restclient: An extension to restclient.el for emacs that provides org-babel support.
  • restclient.vim: Brings the restclient to vim! Responses display in vim's internal pager.


Public domain, do whatever you want.


Pavel Kurnosov