The clipboard is the facility that most graphical applications use for “cutting and pasting”. When the clipboard exists, the kill and yank commands in Emacs make use of it.
When you kill some text with a command such as C-w
kill-region), or copy it to the kill ring with a command such
as M-w (
kill-ring-save), that text is also put in the
When an Emacs kill command puts text in the clipboard, the existing
clipboard contents are normally lost. Optionally, you can change
t. Then Emacs
will first save the clipboard to its kill ring, preventing you from
losing the old clipboard data—at the risk of high memory consumption
if that data turns out to be large.
Yank commands, such as C-y (
yank), also use the
clipboard. If another application “owns” the clipboard—i.e., if
you cut or copied text there more recently than your last kill command
in Emacs—then Emacs yanks from the clipboard instead of the kill
Normally, rotating the kill ring with M-y (
does not alter the clipboard. However, if you change
t, then M-y saves the
new yank to the clipboard.
To prevent kill and yank commands from accessing the clipboard,
change the variable
Many X desktop environments support a feature called the
clipboard manager. If you exit Emacs while it is the current
“owner” of the clipboard data, and there is a clipboard manager
running, Emacs transfers the clipboard data to the clipboard manager
so that it is not lost. In some circumstances, this may cause a delay
when exiting Emacs; if you wish to prevent Emacs from transferring
data to the clipboard manager, change the variable
Since strings containing NUL bytes are usually truncated when passed through the clipboard, Emacs replaces such characters with “\0” before transferring them to the system’s clipboard.
Prior to Emacs 24, the kill and yank commands used the primary
selection (see Primary Selection), not the clipboard. If you
prefer this behavior, change
t. In this case, you can use
the following commands to act explicitly on the clipboard:
clipboard-kill-region kills the region and saves it to the
clipboard-kill-ring-save copies the region to the
kill ring and saves it to the clipboard; and
yanks the contents of the clipboard at point.