The Emacs Editor

Emacs is the extensible, customizable, self-documenting real-time display editor. This manual describes how to edit with Emacs and some of the ways to customize it; it corresponds to GNU Emacs version 27.1.

The homepage for GNU Emacs is at To view this manual in other formats, click here. You can also purchase a printed copy from the FSF store. For information on extending Emacs, see Emacs Lisp in The Emacs Lisp Reference Manual.

This is the GNU Emacs Manual, updated for Emacs version 27.1.


How to get the latest Emacs distribution.


An introduction to Emacs concepts.

Important General Concepts


How to interpret what you see on the screen.

User Input

Kinds of input events (characters, buttons, function keys).


Key sequences: what you type to request one editing action.


Named functions run by key sequences to do editing.

Entering Emacs

Starting Emacs from the shell.


Stopping or killing Emacs.

Fundamental Editing Commands


The most basic editing commands.


Entering arguments that are prompted for.


Invoking commands by their names.


Commands for asking Emacs about its commands.

Important Text-Changing Commands


The mark: how to delimit a region of text.


Killing (cutting) and yanking (copying) text.


Saving a text string or a location in the buffer.


Controlling what text is displayed.


Finding or replacing occurrences of a string.


Commands especially useful for fixing typos.

Keyboard Macros

Recording a sequence of keystrokes to be replayed.

Major Structures of Emacs


All about handling files.


Multiple buffers; editing several files at once.


Viewing multiple pieces of text in one frame.


Using multiple windows on your display.


Using non-ASCII character sets.

Advanced Features


Major and minor modes alter Emacs’s basic behavior.


Editing the white space at the beginnings of lines.


Commands and modes for editing human languages.


Commands and modes for editing programs.


Compiling, running and debugging programs.


Features for maintaining large programs.


Defining text abbreviations to reduce typing.


Directory and file manager.


Calendar and diary facilities.

Sending Mail

Sending mail in Emacs.


Reading mail in Emacs.


A flexible mail and news reader.

Host Security

Security issues on a single computer.

Network Security

Managing the network security.

Document View

Viewing PDF, PS and DVI files.


Executing shell commands from Emacs.

Emacs Server

Using Emacs as an editing server.


Printing hardcopies of buffers or regions.


Sorting lines, paragraphs or pages within Emacs.

Picture Mode

Editing pictures made up of text characters.

Editing Binary Files

Editing binary files with Hexl mode.

Saving Emacs Sessions

Saving Emacs state from one session to the next.

Recursive Edit

Performing edits while within another command.


Following links in buffers.


Various games and hacks.


Installing additional features.


Modifying the behavior of Emacs.

Recovery from Problems


Quitting and aborting.


What to do if Emacs is hung or malfunctioning.


How and when to report a bug.


How to contribute improvements to Emacs.


How to get help for your own Emacs needs.



The GNU General Public License gives you permission to redistribute GNU Emacs on certain terms; it also explains that there is no warranty.

GNU Free Documentation License

The license for this documentation.

Emacs Invocation

Hairy startup options.

X Resources

X resources for customizing Emacs.


Information about Emacs version 26.

Mac OS / GNUstep

Using Emacs under macOS and GNUstep.

Microsoft Windows

Using Emacs on Microsoft Windows and MS-DOS.


What’s GNU? Gnu’s Not Unix!


Terms used in this manual.


Major contributors to GNU Emacs.

Indexes (each index contains a large menu)

Key Index

An item for each standard Emacs key sequence.

Option Index

An item for every command-line option.

Command Index

An item for each standard command name.

Variable Index

An item for each variable documented in this manual.

Concept Index

An item for concepts and other general subjects.

Detailed Node Listing

Here are some other nodes which are really subnodes of the ones already listed, mentioned here so you can get to them in one step:

The Organization of the Screen


The place in the text where editing commands operate.

Echo Area

Short messages appear at the bottom of the screen.

Mode Line

Interpreting the mode line.

Menu Bar

How to use the menu bar.

Basic Editing Commands

Inserting Text

Inserting text by simply typing it.

Moving Point

Moving the cursor to the place where you want to change something.


Deleting and killing text.

Basic Undo

Undoing recent changes in the text.

Basic Files

Visiting, creating, and saving files.

Basic Help

Asking what a character does.

Blank Lines

Making and deleting blank lines.

Continuation Lines

How Emacs displays lines too wide for the screen.

Position Info

What line, row, or column is point on?


Numeric arguments for repeating a command N times.


Repeating the previous command quickly.

The Minibuffer

Basic Minibuffer

Basic usage of the minibuffer.

Minibuffer File

Entering file names with the minibuffer.

Minibuffer Edit

How to edit in the minibuffer.


An abbreviation facility for minibuffer input.

Minibuffer History

Reusing recent minibuffer arguments.


Re-executing commands that used the minibuffer.


Entering passwords in the echo area.

Yes or No Prompts

Replying yes or no in the echo area.


Completion Example

Examples of using completion.

Completion Commands

A list of completion commands.

Completion Exit

Completion and minibuffer text submission.

Completion Styles

How completion matches are chosen.

Completion Options

Options for completion.


Help Summary

Brief list of all Help commands.

Key Help

Asking what a key does in Emacs.

Name Help

Asking about a command, variable or function name.


Asking what pertains to a given topic.

Help Mode

Special features of Help mode and Help buffers.

Package Keywords

Finding Lisp libraries by keywords (topics).

Language Help

Help relating to international language support.

Misc Help

Other help commands.

Help Files

Commands to display auxiliary help files.

Help Echo

Help on active text and tooltips.

The Mark and the Region

Setting Mark

Commands to set the mark.

Marking Objects

Commands to put region around textual units.

Using Region

Summary of ways to operate on contents of the region.

Mark Ring

Previous mark positions saved so you can go back there.

Global Mark Ring

Previous mark positions in various buffers.

Shift Selection

Using shifted cursor motion keys.

Disabled Transient Mark

Leaving regions unhighlighted by default.

Killing and Moving Text

Deletion and Killing

Commands that remove text.


Commands that insert text.

Cut and Paste

Clipboard and selections on graphical displays.

Accumulating Text

Other methods to add text to the buffer.


Operating on text in rectangular areas.

CUA Bindings

Using C-x/C-c/C-v to kill and yank.

Deletion and Killing


Commands for deleting small amounts of text and blank areas.

Killing by Lines

How to kill entire lines of text at one time.

Other Kill Commands

Commands to kill large regions of text and syntactic units such as words and sentences.

Kill Options

Options that affect killing.


Kill Ring

Where killed text is stored.

Earlier Kills

Yanking something killed some time ago.

Appending Kills

Several kills in a row all yank together.

Cut and Paste Operations on Graphical Displays


How Emacs uses the system clipboard.

Primary Selection

The temporarily selected text selection.

Secondary Selection

Cutting without altering point and mark.


Position Registers

Saving positions in registers.

Text Registers

Saving text in registers.

Rectangle Registers

Saving rectangles in registers.

Configuration Registers

Saving window configurations in registers.

Number Registers

Numbers in registers.

File Registers

File names in registers.

Keyboard Macro Registers

Keyboard macros in registers.


Bookmarks are like registers, but persistent.

Controlling the Display


Commands to move text up and down in a window.


A scroll command that centers the current line.

Auto Scrolling

Redisplay scrolls text automatically when needed.

Horizontal Scrolling

Moving text left and right in a window.


Restricting display and editing to a portion of the buffer.

View Mode

Viewing read-only buffers.

Follow Mode

Follow mode lets two windows scroll as one.


How to change the display style using faces.


Specifying colors for faces.

Standard Faces

The main predefined faces.

Text Scale

Increasing or decreasing text size in a buffer.

Font Lock

Minor mode for syntactic highlighting using faces.

Highlight Interactively

Tell Emacs what text to highlight.


Enabling or disabling window fringes.

Displaying Boundaries

Displaying top and bottom of the buffer.

Useless Whitespace

Showing possibly spurious trailing whitespace.

Selective Display

Hiding lines with lots of indentation.

Optional Mode Line

Optional mode line display features.

Text Display

How text characters are normally displayed.

Cursor Display

Features for displaying the cursor.

Line Truncation

Truncating lines to fit the screen width instead of continuing them to multiple screen lines.

Visual Line Mode

Word wrap and screen line-based editing.

Display Custom

Information on variables for customizing display.

Searching and Replacement

Incremental Search

Search happens as you type the string.

Nonincremental Search

Specify entire string and then search.

Word Search

Search for sequence of words.

Symbol Search

Search for a source code symbol.

Regexp Search

Search for match for a regexp.


Syntax of regular expressions.

Regexp Backslash

Regular expression constructs starting with ‘\’.

Regexp Example

A complex regular expression explained.

Lax Search

Search ignores some distinctions between similar characters, like letter-case.


Search, and replace some or all matches.

Other Repeating Search

Operating on all matches for some regexp.

Search Customizations

Various search customizations.

Incremental Search

Basic Isearch

Basic incremental search commands.

Repeat Isearch

Searching for the same string again.

Isearch Yank

Commands that grab text into the search string or else edit the search string.

Error in Isearch

When your string is not found.

Special Isearch

Special input in incremental search.

Not Exiting Isearch

Prefix argument and scrolling commands.

Isearch Minibuffer

Incremental search of the minibuffer history.

Replacement Commands

Unconditional Replace

Replacing all matches for a string.

Regexp Replace

Replacing all matches for a regexp.

Replacement and Lax Matches

Lax searching for text to replace.

Query Replace

How to use querying.

Commands for Fixing Typos


The Undo commands.


Exchanging two characters, words, lines, lists...

Fixing Case

Correcting case of last word entered.


Apply spelling checker to a word, or a whole file.

Keyboard Macros

Basic Keyboard Macro

Defining and running keyboard macros.

Keyboard Macro Ring

Where previous keyboard macros are saved.

Keyboard Macro Counter

Inserting incrementing numbers in macros.

Keyboard Macro Query

Making keyboard macros do different things each time.

Save Keyboard Macro

Giving keyboard macros names; saving them in files.

Edit Keyboard Macro

Editing keyboard macros.

Keyboard Macro Step-Edit

Interactively executing and editing a keyboard macro.

File Handling

File Names

How to type and edit file-name arguments.


Visiting a file prepares Emacs to edit the file.


Saving makes your changes permanent.


Reverting cancels all the changes not saved.

Auto Revert

Keeping buffers automatically up-to-date.

Auto Save

Auto Save periodically protects against loss of data.

File Aliases

Handling multiple names for one file.


Creating, deleting, and listing file directories.

Comparing Files

Finding where two files differ.

Diff Mode

Mode for editing file differences.

Copying and Naming

Copying, naming and renaming files.

Misc File Ops

Other things you can do on files.

Compressed Files

Accessing compressed files.

File Archives

Operating on tar, zip, jar etc. archive files.

Remote Files

Accessing files on other machines.

Quoted File Names

Quoting special characters in file names.

File Name Cache

Completion against a list of files you often use.

File Conveniences

Convenience features for finding files.

Image Mode

Viewing image files.


Handling sets of files.

Saving Files

Save Commands

Commands for saving files.


How Emacs saves the old version of your file.

Customize Save

Customizing the saving of files.


How Emacs protects against simultaneous editing of one file by two users.

File Shadowing

Copying files to shadows automatically.

Time Stamps

Emacs can update time stamps on saved files.

Backup Files

Backup Names

How backup files are named.

Backup Deletion

Emacs deletes excess numbered backups.

Backup Copying

Backups can be made by copying or renaming.

Auto Reverting Non-File Buffers

Auto Reverting the Buffer Menu

Auto Revert of the Buffer Menu.

Auto Reverting Dired

Auto Revert of Dired buffers.

Auto-Saving: Protection Against Disasters

Auto Save Files

The file where auto-saved changes are actually made until you save the file.

Auto Save Control

Controlling when and how often to auto-save.


Recovering text from auto-save files.

Using Multiple Buffers

Select Buffer

Creating a new buffer or reselecting an old one.

List Buffers

Getting a list of buffers that exist.

Misc Buffer

Renaming; changing read-only status; copying text.

Kill Buffer

Killing buffers you no longer need.

Several Buffers

How to go through the list of all buffers and operate variously on several of them.

Indirect Buffers

An indirect buffer shares the text of another buffer.

Buffer Convenience

Convenience and customization features for buffer handling.

Convenience Features and Customization of Buffer Handling


Making buffer names unique with directory parts.


Fast minibuffer selection.

Buffer Menus

Configurable buffer menu.

Multiple Windows

Basic Window

Introduction to Emacs windows.

Split Window

New windows are made by splitting existing windows.

Other Window

Moving to another window or doing something to it.

Pop Up Window

Finding a file or buffer in another window.

Change Window

Deleting windows and changing their sizes.

Displaying Buffers

How Emacs picks a window for displaying a buffer.

Temporary Displays

Displaying non-editable buffers.

Window Convenience

Convenience functions for window handling.

Tab Line

Window tab line.

Displaying a Buffer in a Window

Window Choice

How display-buffer works.

Frames and Graphical Displays

Mouse Commands

Moving, cutting, and pasting, with the mouse.

Word and Line Mouse

Mouse commands for selecting whole words or lines.

Mouse References

Using the mouse to select an item from a list.

Menu Mouse Clicks

Mouse clicks that bring up menus.

Mode Line Mouse

Mouse clicks on the mode line.

Creating Frames

Creating additional Emacs frames with various contents.

Frame Commands

Iconifying, deleting, and switching frames.


Changing the frame font.


How to make and use a speedbar frame.

Multiple Displays

How one Emacs instance can talk to several displays.

Frame Parameters

Changing the colors and other modes of frames.

Scroll Bars

How to enable and disable scroll bars; how to use them.

Window Dividers

Window separators that can be dragged with the mouse.

Drag and Drop

Using drag and drop to open files and insert text.

Menu Bars

Enabling and disabling the menu bar.

Tool Bars

Enabling and disabling the tool bar.

Tab Bars

Enabling and disabling the tab bar.

Dialog Boxes

Controlling use of dialog boxes.


Displaying information at the current mouse position.

Mouse Avoidance

Preventing the mouse pointer from obscuring text.

Non-Window Terminals

Multiple frames on terminals that show only one.

Text-Only Mouse

Using the mouse in text terminals.

International Character Set Support

International Chars

Basic concepts of multibyte characters.

Language Environments

Setting things up for the language you use.

Input Methods

Entering text characters not on your keyboard.

Select Input Method

Specifying your choice of input methods.

Coding Systems

Character set conversion when you read and write files, and so on.

Recognize Coding

How Emacs figures out which conversion to use.

Specify Coding

Specifying a file’s coding system explicitly.

Output Coding

Choosing coding systems for output.

Text Coding

Choosing conversion to use for file text.

Communication Coding

Coding systems for interprocess communication.

File Name Coding

Coding systems for file names.

Terminal Coding

Specifying coding systems for converting terminal input and output.


Fontsets are collections of fonts that cover the whole spectrum of characters.

Defining Fontsets

Defining a new fontset.

Modifying Fontsets

Modifying an existing fontset.

Undisplayable Characters

When characters don’t display.

Unibyte Mode

You can pick one European character set to use without multibyte characters.


How Emacs groups its internal character codes.

Bidirectional Editing

Support for right-to-left scripts.

Major and Minor Modes

Major Modes

Text mode vs. Lisp mode vs. C mode...

Minor Modes

Each minor mode is a feature you can turn on independently of any others.

Choosing Modes

How modes are chosen when visiting files.


Indentation Commands

More commands for performing indentation.

Tab Stops

Stop points for indentation in Text modes.

Just Spaces

Using only space characters for indentation.

Indent Convenience

Optional indentation features.

Commands for Human Languages


Moving over and killing words.


Moving over and killing sentences.


Moving over paragraphs.


Moving over pages.

Quotation Marks

Inserting quotation marks.


Filling or justifying text.


Changing the case of text.

Text Mode

The major modes for editing text files.

Outline Mode

Editing outlines.

Org Mode

The Emacs organizer.

TeX Mode

Editing TeX and LaTeX files.


Editing HTML and SGML files.

Nroff Mode

Editing input to the nroff formatter.

Enriched Text

Editing text enriched with fonts, colors, etc.

Text Based Tables

Commands for editing text-based tables.


Splitting text columns into separate windows.

Filling Text

Auto Fill

Auto Fill mode breaks long lines automatically.

Fill Commands

Commands to refill paragraphs and center lines.

Fill Prefix

Filling paragraphs that are indented or in a comment, etc.

Adaptive Fill

How Emacs can determine the fill prefix automatically.

Outline Mode

Outline Format

What the text of an outline looks like.

Outline Motion

Special commands for moving through outlines.

Outline Visibility

Commands to control what is visible.

Outline Views

Outlines and multiple views.


Folding means zooming in on outlines.

Org Mode

Org Organizer

Managing TODO lists and agendas.

Org Authoring

Exporting Org buffers to various formats.

TeX Mode

TeX Editing

Special commands for editing in TeX mode.

LaTeX Editing

Additional commands for LaTeX input files.

TeX Print

Commands for printing part of a file with TeX.

TeX Misc

Customization of TeX mode, and related features.

Enriched Text

Enriched Mode

Entering and exiting Enriched mode.

Hard and Soft Newlines

There are two different kinds of newlines.

Editing Format Info

How to edit text properties.

Enriched Faces

Bold, italic, underline, etc.

Enriched Indentation

Changing the left and right margins.

Enriched Justification

Centering, setting text flush with the left or right margin, etc.

Enriched Properties

The “Special text properties” submenu.

Editing Text-based Tables

Table Definition

What is a text based table.

Table Creation

How to create a table.

Table Recognition

How to activate and deactivate tables.

Cell Commands

Cell-oriented commands in a table.

Cell Justification

Justifying cell contents.

Table Rows and Columns

Inserting and deleting rows and columns.

Table Conversion

Converting between plain text and tables.

Table Misc

Table miscellany.

Editing Programs

Program Modes

Major modes for editing programs.


Commands to operate on major top-level parts of a program.

Program Indent

Adjusting indentation to show the nesting.


Commands that operate on parentheses.


Inserting, killing, and aligning comments.


Getting documentation of functions you plan to call.


Displaying blocks selectively.

Symbol Completion

Completion on symbol names of your program or language.

MixedCase Words

Dealing with identifiersLikeThis.


Suite of editing tools based on source code parsing.

Misc for Programs

Other Emacs features useful for editing programs.

C Modes

Special commands of C, C++, Objective-C, Java, IDL, Pike and AWK modes.

Asm Mode

Asm mode and its special features.


Fortran mode and its special features.

Top-Level Definitions, or Defuns

Left Margin Paren

An open-paren or similar opening delimiter starts a defun if it is at the left margin.

Moving by Defuns

Commands to move over or mark a major definition.


Making buffer indexes as menus.

Which Function

Which Function mode shows which function you are in.

Indentation for Programs

Basic Indent

Indenting a single line.

Multi-line Indent

Commands to reindent many lines at once.

Lisp Indent

Specifying how each Lisp function should be indented.

C Indent

Extra features for indenting C and related modes.

Custom C Indent

Controlling indentation style for C and related modes.

Commands for Editing with Parentheses


Expressions with balanced parentheses.

Moving by Parens

Commands for moving up, down and across in the structure of parentheses.


Insertion of a close-delimiter flashes matching open.

Manipulating Comments

Comment Commands

Inserting, killing, and aligning comments.

Multi-Line Comments

Commands for adding and editing multi-line comments.

Options for Comments

Customizing the comment features.

Documentation Lookup

Info Lookup

Looking up library functions and commands in Info files.

Man Page

Looking up man pages of library functions and commands.

Lisp Doc

Looking up Emacs Lisp functions, etc.

C and Related Modes

Motion in C

Commands to move by C statements, etc.

Electric C

Colon and other chars can automatically reindent.

Hungry Delete

A more powerful DEL command.

Other C Commands

Filling comments, viewing expansion of macros, and other neat features.

Fortran Mode

Fortran Motion

Moving point by statements or subprograms.

Fortran Indent

Indentation commands for Fortran.

Fortran Comments

Inserting and aligning comments.

Fortran Autofill

Auto fill support for Fortran.

Fortran Columns

Measuring columns for valid Fortran.

Fortran Abbrev

Built-in abbrevs for Fortran keywords.

Fortran Indentation

ForIndent Commands

Commands for indenting and filling Fortran.

ForIndent Cont

How continuation lines indent.

ForIndent Num

How line numbers auto-indent.

ForIndent Conv

Conventions you must obey to avoid trouble.

ForIndent Vars

Variables controlling Fortran indent style.

Compiling and Testing Programs


Compiling programs in languages other than Lisp (C, Pascal, etc.).

Compilation Mode

The mode for visiting compiler errors.

Compilation Shell

Customizing your shell properly for use in the compilation buffer.

Grep Searching

Searching with grep.


Finding syntax errors on the fly.


Running symbolic debuggers for non-Lisp programs.

Executing Lisp

Various modes for editing Lisp programs, with different facilities for running the Lisp programs.

Lisp Libraries

How Lisp programs are loaded into Emacs.

Lisp Eval

Executing a single Lisp expression in Emacs.

Lisp Interaction

Executing Lisp in an Emacs buffer.

External Lisp

Communicating through Emacs with a separate Lisp.

Running Debuggers Under Emacs

Starting GUD

How to start a debugger subprocess.

Debugger Operation

Connection between the debugger and source buffers.

Commands of GUD

Key bindings for common commands.

GUD Customization

Defining your own commands for GUD.

GDB Graphical Interface

An enhanced mode that uses GDB features to implement a graphical debugging environment.

GDB Graphical Interface

GDB User Interface Layout

Control the number of displayed buffers.

Source Buffers

Use the mouse in the fringe/margin to control your program.

Breakpoints Buffer

A breakpoint control panel.

Threads Buffer

Displays your threads.

Stack Buffer

Select a frame from the call stack.

Other GDB Buffers

Other buffers for controlling the GDB state.

Watch Expressions

Monitor variable values in the speedbar.

Multithreaded Debugging

Debugging programs with several threads.

Maintaining Large Programs

Version Control

Using version control systems.


Commands for handling source files in a project.

Change Log

Maintaining a change history for your program.


Find definitions and references of any function, method, struct, macro, … in your program.


An integrated development environment for Emacs.


A convenient way of merging two versions of a program.

Version Control

Introduction to VC

How version control works in general.

VC Mode Line

How the mode line shows version control status.

Basic VC Editing

How to edit a file under version control.

Log Buffer

Features available in log entry buffers.


Putting a file under version control.

Old Revisions

Examining and comparing old versions.

VC Change Log

Viewing the VC Change Log.

VC Undo

Canceling changes before or after committing.

VC Ignore

Ignore files under version control system.

VC Directory Mode

Listing files managed by version control.


Multiple lines of development.

Miscellaneous VC

Various other commands and features of VC.

Customizing VC

Variables that change VC’s behavior.

Introduction to Version Control

Why Version Control?

Understanding the problems it addresses.

Version Control Systems

Supported version control back-end systems.

VCS Concepts

Words and concepts related to version control.

VCS Merging

How file conflicts are handled.

VCS Changesets

How changes are grouped.

VCS Repositories

Where version control repositories are stored.

Types of Log File

The VCS log in contrast to the ChangeLog.

Basic Editing under Version Control

VC With A Merging VCS

Without locking: default mode for CVS.

VC With A Locking VCS

RCS in its default mode, SCCS, and optionally CVS.

Advanced C-x v v

Advanced features available with a prefix argument.

VC Directory Mode

VC Directory Buffer

What the buffer looks like and means.

VC Directory Commands

Commands to use in a VC directory buffer.

Version Control Branches

Switching Branches

How to get to another existing branch.

Pulling / Pushing

Receiving/sending changes from/to elsewhere.


Transferring changes between branches.

Creating Branches

How to start a new branch.

Miscellaneous Commands and Features of VC

Change Logs and VC

Generating a change log file from log entries.

VC Delete/Rename

Deleting and renaming version-controlled files.

Revision Tags

Symbolic names for revisions.

Version Headers

Inserting version control headers into working files.

Customizing VC

General VC Options

Options that apply to multiple back ends.


Options for RCS and SCCS.

CVS Options

Options for CVS.

Change Logs

Change Log Commands

Commands for editing change log files.

Format of ChangeLog

What the change log file looks like.


Find Identifiers

Commands to find where an identifier is defined or referenced, to list identifiers, etc.

Tags Tables

Tags table records which file defines a symbol.

Select Tags Table

How to visit a specific tags table.

Find Identifiers

Looking Up Identifiers

Commands to find the definition of a specific tag.

Xref Commands

Commands in the *xref* buffer.

Identifier Search

Searching and replacing identifiers.

List Identifiers

Listing identifiers and completing on them.

Tags Tables

Tag Syntax

Tag syntax for various types of code and text files.

Create Tags Table

Creating a tags table with etags.

Etags Regexps

Create arbitrary tags using regular expressions.

Merging Files with Emerge

Overview of Emerge

How to start Emerge. Basic concepts.

Submodes of Emerge

Fast mode vs. Edit mode. Skip Prefers mode and Auto Advance mode.

State of Difference

You do the merge by specifying state A or B for each difference.

Merge Commands

Commands for selecting a difference, changing states of differences, etc.

Exiting Emerge

What to do when you’ve finished the merge.

Combining in Emerge

How to keep both alternatives for a difference.

Fine Points of Emerge

Miscellaneous issues.


Abbrev Concepts

Fundamentals of defined abbrevs.

Defining Abbrevs

Defining an abbrev, so it will expand when typed.

Expanding Abbrevs

Controlling expansion: prefixes, canceling expansion.

Editing Abbrevs

Viewing or editing the entire list of defined abbrevs.

Saving Abbrevs

Saving the entire list of abbrevs for another session.

Dynamic Abbrevs

Abbreviations for words already in the buffer.

Dabbrev Customization

What is a word, for dynamic abbrevs. Case handling.

Editing Pictures

Basic Picture

Basic concepts and simple commands of Picture Mode.

Insert in Picture

Controlling direction of cursor motion after self-inserting characters.

Tabs in Picture

Various features for tab stops and indentation.

Rectangles in Picture

Clearing and superimposing rectangles.

Dired, the Directory Editor

Dired Enter

How to invoke Dired.

Dired Navigation

Special motion commands in the Dired buffer.

Dired Deletion

Deleting files with Dired.

Flagging Many Files

Flagging files based on their names.

Dired Visiting

Other file operations through Dired.

Marks vs Flags

Flagging for deletion vs marking.

Operating on Files

How to copy, rename, print, compress, etc. either one file or several files.

Shell Commands in Dired

Running a shell command on the marked files.

Transforming File Names

Using patterns to rename multiple files.

Comparison in Dired

Running diff by way of Dired.

Subdirectories in Dired

Adding subdirectories to the Dired buffer.

Subdir Switches

Subdirectory switches in Dired.

Subdirectory Motion

Moving across subdirectories, and up and down.

Hiding Subdirectories

Making subdirectories visible or invisible.

Dired Updating

Discarding lines for files of no interest.

Dired and Find

Using find to choose the files for Dired.


Operating on files by editing the Dired buffer.


Viewing image thumbnails in Dired.

Misc Dired Features

Various other features.

The Calendar and the Diary

Calendar Motion

Moving through the calendar; selecting a date.

Scroll Calendar

Bringing earlier or later months onto the screen.

Counting Days

How many days are there between two dates?

General Calendar

Exiting or recomputing the calendar.

Writing Calendar Files

Writing calendars to files of various formats.


Displaying dates of holidays.


Displaying local times of sunrise and sunset.

Lunar Phases

Displaying phases of the moon.

Other Calendars

Converting dates to other calendar systems.


Displaying events from your diary.

Daylight Saving

How to specify when daylight saving time is active.

Time Intervals

Keeping track of time intervals.

Advanced Calendar/Diary Usage

Advanced Calendar/Diary customization.

Movement in the Calendar

Calendar Unit Motion

Moving by days, weeks, months, and years.

Move to Beginning or End

Moving to start/end of weeks, months, and years.

Specified Dates

Moving to the current date or another specific date.

Conversion To and From Other Calendars

Calendar Systems

The calendars Emacs understands (aside from Gregorian).

To Other Calendar

Converting the selected date to various calendars.

From Other Calendar

Moving to a date specified in another calendar.

The Diary

Format of Diary File

Entering events in your diary.

Displaying the Diary

Viewing diary entries and associated calendar dates.

Date Formats

Various ways you can specify dates.

Adding to Diary

Commands to create diary entries.

Special Diary Entries

Anniversaries, blocks of dates, cyclic entries, etc.


Reminders when it’s time to do something.

Importing Diary

Converting diary events to/from other formats.

More advanced features of the Calendar and Diary

Calendar Customizing

Calendar layout and hooks.

Holiday Customizing

Defining your own holidays.

Mayan Calendar

Moving to a date specified in a Mayan calendar.

Date Display Format

Changing the format.

Time Display Format

Changing the format.

Diary Customizing

Defaults you can set.

Non-Gregorian Diary

Diary entries based on other calendars.

Diary Display

A choice of ways to display the diary.

Fancy Diary Display

Sorting diary entries, using included diary files.

Sexp Diary Entries

More flexible diary entries.

Sending Mail

Mail Format

Format of a mail message.

Mail Headers

Details of some standard mail header fields.

Mail Aliases

Abbreviating and grouping mail addresses.

Mail Commands

Special commands for editing mail being composed.

Mail Signature

Adding a signature to every message.

Mail Amusements

Distracting the NSA; adding fortune messages.

Mail Methods

Using alternative mail-composition methods.

Mail Commands

Mail Sending

Commands to send the message.

Header Editing

Commands to move to header fields and edit them.

Citing Mail

Quoting a message you are replying to.

Mail Misc

Attachments, spell checking, etc.

Reading Mail with Rmail

Rmail Basics

Basic concepts of Rmail, and simple use.

Rmail Scrolling

Scrolling through a message.

Rmail Motion

Moving to another message.

Rmail Deletion

Deleting and expunging messages.

Rmail Inbox

How mail gets into the Rmail file.

Rmail Files

Using multiple Rmail files.

Rmail Output

Copying message out to files.

Rmail Labels

Classifying messages by labeling them.

Rmail Attributes

Certain standard labels, called attributes.

Rmail Reply

Sending replies to messages you are viewing.

Rmail Summary

Summaries show brief info on many messages.

Rmail Sorting

Sorting messages in Rmail.

Rmail Display

How Rmail displays a message; customization.

Rmail Coding

How Rmail handles decoding character sets.

Rmail Editing

Editing message text and headers in Rmail.

Rmail Digest

Extracting the messages from a digest message.

Rmail Rot13

Reading messages encoded in the rot13 code.


More details of fetching new mail.

Remote Mailboxes

Retrieving mail from remote mailboxes.

Other Mailbox Formats

Retrieving mail from local mailboxes in various formats.

Rmail Summaries

Rmail Make Summary

Making various sorts of summaries.

Rmail Summary Edit

Manipulating messages from the summary.


Buffers of Gnus

The group, summary, and article buffers.

Gnus Startup

What you should know about starting Gnus.

Gnus Group Buffer

A short description of Gnus group commands.

Gnus Summary Buffer

A short description of Gnus summary commands.

Document Viewing

DocView Navigation

Navigating DocView buffers.

DocView Searching

Searching inside documents.

DocView Slicing

Specifying which part of a page is displayed.

DocView Conversion

Influencing and triggering conversion.

Running Shell Commands from Emacs

Single Shell

How to run one shell command and return.

Interactive Shell

Permanent shell taking input via Emacs.

Shell Mode

Special Emacs commands used with permanent shell.

Shell Prompts

Two ways to recognize shell prompts.

Shell History

Repeating previous commands in a shell buffer.

Directory Tracking

Keeping track when the subshell changes directory.

Shell Options

Options for customizing Shell mode.

Terminal emulator

An Emacs window as a terminal emulator.

Term Mode

Special Emacs commands used in Term mode.

Remote Host

Connecting to another computer.

Serial Terminal

Connecting to a serial port.

Shell Command History

Shell Ring

Fetching commands from the history list.

Shell History Copying

Moving to a command and then copying it.

History References

Expanding ‘!’-style history references.

Using Emacs as a Server

TCP Emacs server

Listening to a TCP socket.

Invoking emacsclient

Connecting to the Emacs server.

emacsclient Options

Emacs client startup options.

Printing Hard Copies


Printing buffers or regions as PostScript.

PostScript Variables

Customizing the PostScript printing commands.

Printing Package

An optional advanced printing interface.

Hyperlinking and Navigation Features


A web browser in Emacs.

Embedded WebKit Widgets

Embedding browser widgets in Emacs buffers.


Following URLs.

Goto Address mode

Activating URLs.


Finding files etc. at point.

Emacs Lisp Packages

Package Menu

Buffer for viewing and managing packages.

Package Statuses

Which statuses a package can have.

Package Installation

Options for package installation.

Package Files

Where packages are installed.


Easy Customization

Convenient way to browse and change settings.


Many Emacs commands examine Emacs variables to decide what to do; by setting variables, you can control their functioning.

Key Bindings

The keymaps say what command each key runs. By changing them, you can redefine keys.

Init File

How to write common customizations in the initialization file.


Keeping persistent authentication information.

Easy Customization Interface

Customization Groups

How settings are classified.

Browsing Custom

Browsing and searching for settings.

Changing a Variable

How to edit an option’s value and set the option.

Saving Customizations

Saving customizations for future Emacs sessions.

Face Customization

How to edit the attributes of a face.

Specific Customization

Customizing specific settings or groups.

Custom Themes

Collections of customization settings.

Creating Custom Themes

How to create a new custom theme.



Examining or setting one variable’s value.


Hook variables let you specify programs for parts of Emacs to run on particular occasions.


Per-buffer values of variables.

File Variables

How files can specify variable values.

Directory Variables

How variable values can be specified by directory.

Connection Variables

Variables which are valid for buffers with a remote default directory.

Local Variables in Files

Specifying File Variables

Specifying file local variables.

Safe File Variables

Making sure file local variables are safe.

Customizing Key Bindings


Generalities. The global keymap.

Prefix Keymaps

Keymaps for prefix keys.

Local Keymaps

Major and minor modes have their own keymaps.

Minibuffer Maps

The minibuffer uses its own local keymaps.


How to redefine one key’s meaning conveniently.

Init Rebinding

Rebinding keys with your initialization file.

Modifier Keys

Using modifier keys in key bindings.

Function Keys

Rebinding terminal function keys.

Named ASCII Chars

Distinguishing TAB from C-i, and so on.

Mouse Buttons

Rebinding mouse buttons in Emacs.


Disabling a command means confirmation is required before it can be executed. This is done to protect beginners from surprises.

The Emacs Initialization File

Init Syntax

Syntax of constants in Emacs Lisp.

Init Examples

How to do some things with an init file.

Terminal Init

Each terminal type can have an init file.

Find Init

How Emacs finds the init file.

Init Non-ASCII

Using non-ASCII characters in an init file.

Early Init File

Another init file, which is read early on.

Dealing with Emacs Trouble

DEL Does Not Delete

What to do if DEL doesn’t delete.

Stuck Recursive

’[...]’ in mode line around the parentheses.

Screen Garbled

Garbage on the screen.

Text Garbled

Garbage in the text.

Memory Full

How to cope when you run out of memory.


What Emacs does when it crashes.

After a Crash

Recovering editing in an Emacs session that crashed.

Emergency Escape

What to do if Emacs stops responding.

Long Lines

Mitigating slowness due to extremely long lines.

Reporting Bugs

Known Problems

How to read about known problems and bugs.

Bug Criteria

Have you really found a bug?

Understanding Bug Reporting

How to report a bug effectively.


Steps to follow for a good bug report.

Sending Patches

How to send a patch for GNU Emacs.

Contributing to Emacs Development

Coding Standards

GNU Emacs coding standards.

Copyright Assignment

Assigning copyright to the FSF.

Command Line Arguments for Emacs Invocation

Action Arguments

Arguments to visit files, load libraries, and call functions.

Initial Options

Arguments that take effect while starting Emacs.

Command Example

Examples of using command line arguments.


Environment variables that Emacs uses.

Display X

Changing the default display and using remote login.

Font X

Choosing a font for text, under X.

Colors X

Choosing display colors.

Window Size X

Start-up window size, under X.

Borders X

Internal and outer borders, under X.

Title X

Specifying the initial frame’s title.

Icons X

Choosing what sort of icon to use, under X.

Misc X

Other display options.

Environment Variables

General Variables

Environment variables that all versions of Emacs use.

Misc Variables

Certain system-specific variables.

MS-Windows Registry

An alternative to the environment on MS-Windows.

X Options and Resources


Using X resources with Emacs (in general).

Table of Resources

Table of specific X resources that affect Emacs.

Lucid Resources

X resources for Lucid menus.

Motif Resources

X resources for Motif and LessTif menus.

GTK resources

Resources for GTK widgets.

GTK resources

GTK Resource Basics

Basic usage of GTK+ resources.

GTK Widget Names

How GTK+ widgets are named.

GTK Names in Emacs

GTK+ widgets used by Emacs.

GTK styles

What can be customized in a GTK+ widget.

Emacs and macOS / GNUstep

Mac / GNUstep Basics

Basic Emacs usage under GNUstep or macOS.

Mac / GNUstep Customization

Customizations under GNUstep or macOS.

Mac / GNUstep Events

How window system events are handled.

GNUstep Support

Details on status of GNUstep support.

Emacs and Microsoft Windows/MS-DOS

Windows Startup

How to start Emacs on Windows.

Text and Binary

Text files use CRLF to terminate lines.

Windows Files

File-name conventions on Windows.

ls in Lisp

Emulation of ls for Dired.

Windows HOME

Where Emacs looks for your .emacs and where it starts up.

Windows Keyboard

Windows-specific keyboard features.

Windows Mouse

Windows-specific mouse features.

Windows Processes

Running subprocesses on Windows.

Windows Printing

How to specify the printer on MS-Windows.

Windows Fonts

Specifying fonts on MS-Windows.

Windows Misc

Miscellaneous Windows features.


Using Emacs on MS-DOS.

Emacs and MS-DOS

MS-DOS Keyboard

Keyboard conventions on MS-DOS.

MS-DOS Mouse

Mouse conventions on MS-DOS.

MS-DOS Display

Fonts, frames and display size on MS-DOS.

MS-DOS File Names

File name conventions on MS-DOS.

MS-DOS Printing

Printing specifics on MS-DOS.


Support for internationalization on MS-DOS.

MS-DOS Processes

Running subprocesses on MS-DOS.

Copyright © 1985–1987, 1993–2020 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document

under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with the Invariant Sections being “The GNU Manifesto,” “Distribution” and “GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE,” with the Front-Cover Texts being “A GNU Manual,” and with the Back-Cover Texts as in (a) below. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License.”

(a) The FSF’s Back-Cover Text is: “You have the freedom to copy and modify this GNU manual. Buying copies from the FSF supports it in developing GNU and promoting software freedom.”

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