Section: User Commands (1)
Updated: 2007 April 13
emacs - GNU project Emacs editor
is a version of
written by the author of the original (PDP-10)
The user functionality of GNU Emacs encompasses everything other
editors do, and it is easily extensible since its editing commands are
written in Lisp.
The primary documentation of GNU Emacs is in the GNU Emacs Manual,
which you can read using Info, either from Emacs or as a standalone
Please look there for complete and up-to-date documentation.
This man page is updated only when someone volunteers to do so.
has an extensive interactive help facility,
but the facility assumes that you know how to manipulate
windows and buffers.
CTRL-h or F1 enters the Help facility.
Help Tutorial (CTRL-h t) starts an interactive tutorial to quickly
teach beginners the fundamentals of
Help Apropos (CTRL-h a) helps you find a command with a name matching
a given pattern, Help Key (CTRL-h k) describes a given key sequence,
and Help Function (CTRL-h f) describes a given Lisp function.
many special packages handle mail reading (RMail) and sending (Mail),
outline editing (Outline), compiling (Compile), running subshells
windows (Shell), running a Lisp read-eval-print loop
(Lisp-Interaction-Mode), automated psychotherapy (Doctor), and much more.
The following options are of general interest:
- --file=file, --find-file=file, --visit=file
The same as specifying
directly as an argument.
Go to the line specified by
(do not insert a space between the "+" sign and
This applies only to the next file specified.
Go to the specified
- -q, --no-init-file
Do not load an init file.
- -nl, --no-shared-memory
Do not use shared memory.
Do not load the site-wide startup file.
- -nsl, --no-site-lisp
Do not add site-lisp directories to load-path.
Do not load a saved desktop.
- -Q, --quick
Similar to "-q --no-site-file --no-splash". Also, avoid
processing X resources.
Do not display a splash screen during start-up.
Lisp debugger during the processing of the user init file
This is useful for debugging problems in the init file.
- -u user, --user=user
- -t file, --terminal=file
as the terminal instead of using stdin/stdout.
This must be the first argument specified in the command line.
- --daemon[=name], --bg-daemon[=name]
Start Emacs as a daemon, enabling the Emacs server and disconnecting
from the terminal. You can then use the emacsclient (see
connect to the server (with optional
Like "--bg-daemon", but don't disconnect from the terminal.
version information and exit.
Display this help and exit.
The following options are Lisp-oriented
(these options are processed in the order encountered):
- -f function, --funcall=function
Execute the lisp function
- -l file, --load=file
Load the lisp code in the file
- --eval=expr, --execute=expr
Evaluate the Lisp expression
The following options are useful when running
as a batch editor:
Edit in batch mode.
The editor will send messages to stderr.
You must use -l and -f options to specify files to execute
and functions to call.
- --script file
as an Emacs Lisp script.
Insert contents of
into the current buffer.
while in batch mode.
- -L dir, --directory=dir
to the list of directories
searches for Lisp files.
Using Emacs with X
has been tailored to work well with the X window system.
If you run
from under X windows, it will create its own X window to
You will probably want to start the editor as a background
process so that you can continue using your original window.
can be started with the following X switches:
Specify the name which should be assigned to the initial
This controls looking up X resources as well as the window title.
- -T name, --title=name
Specify the title for the initial X window.
- -r, -rv, --reverse-video
window in reverse video.
- -fn font, --font=font
window's font to that specified by
You will find the various
fonts in the
will only accept fixed width fonts.
Under the X11 Release 4 font-naming conventions, any font with the
value "m" or "c" in the eleventh field of the font name is a fixed
Furthermore, fonts whose name are of the form
are generally fixed width, as is the font
for more information.
When you specify a font, be sure to put a space between the
switch and the font name.
Set additional X resources.
- --color, --color=mode
Override color mode for character terminals;
defaults to "auto", and can also be "never", "auto", "always",
or a mode name like "ansi8".
- -bw pixels, --border-width=pixels
window's border width to the number of pixels specified by
Defaults to one pixel on each side of the window.
- -ib pixels, --internal-border=pixels
Set the window's internal border width to the number of pixels specified
Defaults to one pixel of padding on each side of the window.
- -g geometry, --geometry=geometry
window's width, height, and position as specified.
The geometry specification is in the standard X format; see
for more information.
The width and height are specified in characters; the default for GUI
frames is a width of 80 and a height between 35 and 40, depending on
the OS and the window manager.
See the Emacs manual, section "Options for Window Size and Position",
for information on how window sizes interact
with selecting or deselecting the tool bar, tab bar and menu bar.
- -lsp pixels, --line-spacing=pixels
Additional space to put between lines.
- -vb, --vertical-scroll-bars
Enable vertical scrollbars.
- -fh, --fullheight
Make the first frame as high as the screen.
- -fs, --fullscreen
Make the first frame fullscreen.
- -fw, --fullwidth
Make the first frame as wide as the screen.
- -mm, --maximized
Maximize the first frame, like "-fw -fh".
- -fg color, --foreground-color=color
On color displays, set the color of the text.
Use the command
for a list of valid color names.
- -bg color, --background-color=color
On color displays, set the color of the window's background.
- -bd color, --border-color=color
On color displays, set the color of the window's border.
- -cr color, --cursor-color=color
On color displays, set the color of the window's text cursor.
- -ms color, --mouse-color=color
On color displays, set the color of the window's mouse cursor.
- -d displayname, --display=displayname
window on the display specified by
Must be the first option specified in the command line.
- -nbi, --no-bitmap-icon
Do not use picture of gnu for Emacs icon.
in iconified state.
- -nbc, --no-blinking-cursor
Disable blinking cursor.
Set parent window.
- -nw, --no-window-system
not to create a graphical frame.
If you use this switch when invoking
window, display is done in that window.
- -D, --basic-display
This option disables many display features; use it for
You can set
default values for your
windows in your
Use the following format:
specifies the default value of
lets you set default values for the following keywords:
- background (class Background)
For color displays,
sets the window's background color.
- bitmapIcon (class BitmapIcon)
value is set to
the window will iconify into the "kitchen sink."
- borderColor (class BorderColor)
For color displays,
sets the color of the window's border.
- borderWidth (class BorderWidth)
Sets the window's border width in pixels.
- cursorColor (class Foreground)
For color displays,
sets the color of the window's text cursor.
- cursorBlink (class CursorBlink)
Specifies whether to make the cursor blink.
The default is
to turn cursor blinking off.
- font (class Font)
Sets the window's text font.
- foreground (class Foreground)
For color displays,
sets the window's text color.
- fullscreen (class Fullscreen)
The desired fullscreen size.
The value can be one of
which correspond to the command-line options "-fs", "-mm", "-fw",
and "-fh", respectively.
Note that this applies to the initial frame only.
- geometry (class Geometry)
Sets the geometry of the
window (as described above).
- iconName (class Title)
Sets the icon name for the
- internalBorder (class BorderWidth)
Sets the window's internal border width in pixels.
- lineSpacing (class LineSpacing)
Additional space ("leading") between lines, in pixels.
- menuBar (class MenuBar)
Gives frames menu bars if
don't have menu bars if
See the Emacs manual, sections "Lucid Resources" and "Motif
Resources", for how to control the appearance of the menu bar
if you have one.
- minibuffer (class Minibuffer)
don't make a minibuffer in this frame.
It will use a separate minibuffer frame instead.
- paneFont (class Font)
Font name for menu pane titles, in non-toolkit versions of
- pointerColor (class Foreground)
For color displays,
sets the color of the window's mouse cursor.
- privateColormap (class PrivateColormap)
use a private color map, in the case where the "default
visual" of class
is using it.
- reverseVideo (class ReverseVideo)
value is set to
the window will be displayed in reverse video.
- screenGamma (class ScreenGamma)
Gamma correction for colors, equivalent to the frame parameter
- scrollBarWidth (class ScrollBarWidth)
The scroll bar width in pixels, equivalent to the frame parameter
- selectionFont (class SelectionFont)
Font name for pop-up menu items, in non-toolkit versions of
(For toolkit versions, see the Emacs manual, sections
"Lucid Resources" and "Motif Resources".)
- selectionTimeout (class SelectionTimeout)
Number of milliseconds to wait for a selection reply.
A value of 0 means wait as long as necessary.
- synchronous (class Synchronous)
Run Emacs in synchronous mode if
Synchronous mode is useful for debugging X problems.
- title (class Title)
Sets the title of the
- toolBar (class ToolBar)
Number of lines to reserve for the tool bar.
- tabBar (class TabBar)
Number of lines to reserve for the tab bar.
- useXIM (class UseXIM)
Turns off use of X input methods (XIM) if
- verticalScrollBars (class ScrollBars)
Gives frames scroll bars if
suppresses scroll bars if
- visualClass (class VisualClass)
Specify the "visual" that X should use.
This tells X how to handle colors.
The value should start with one of
is the number of color planes.
You can order printed copies of the GNU Emacs Manual from the Free
Software Foundation, which develops GNU software.
See the online store at <https://shop.fsf.org/
Your local administrator might also have copies available.
As with all software and publications from FSF, everyone is permitted
to make and distribute copies of the Emacs manual.
The Texinfo source to the manual is also included in the Emacs source
/usr/local/share/info --- files for the Info documentation browser.
The complete text of the Emacs reference manual is included in a
convenient tree structured form.
Also includes the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual, useful to anyone
wishing to write programs in the Emacs Lisp extension language,
and the Introduction to Programming in Emacs Lisp.
/usr/local/share/emacs/$VERSION/lisp --- Lisp source files and
compiled files that define most editing commands.
Some are preloaded; others are autoloaded from this directory when
/usr/local/libexec/emacs/$VERSION/$ARCH --- various programs that are
used with GNU Emacs.
/usr/local/share/emacs/$VERSION/etc --- various files of information.
/usr/local/share/emacs/$VERSION/etc/DOC.* --- contains the documentation
strings for the Lisp primitives and preloaded Lisp functions
of GNU Emacs.
They are stored here to reduce the size of Emacs proper.
There is a mailing list, email@example.com
, for reporting Emacs
bugs and fixes.
But before reporting something as a bug, please try to be sure that
it really is a bug, not a misunderstanding or a deliberate feature.
We ask you to read the section "Reporting Bugs" in the Emacs manual
for hints on how and when to report bugs.
Also, include the version number of the Emacs you are running in
bug report that you send in.
Bugs tend actually to be fixed if they can be isolated, so it is
in your interest to report them in such a way that they can be
Do not expect a personal answer to a bug report.
The purpose of reporting bugs is to get them fixed for everyone
in the next release, if possible.
For personal assistance, consult the service directory at
<https://www.fsf.org/resources/service/> for a list of people who offer it.
Please do not send anything but bug reports to this mailing list.
For other Emacs lists, see <https://savannah.gnu.org/mail/?group=emacs>.
is free; anyone may redistribute copies of
to anyone under the terms stated in the GNU General Public License,
a copy of which accompanies each copy of
and which also
appears in the reference manual.
may sometimes be received packaged with distributions of Unix systems,
but it is never included in the scope of any license covering those
Such inclusion violates the terms on which distribution is permitted.
In fact, the primary purpose of the GNU General Public License is to
prohibit anyone from attaching any other restrictions to
Richard Stallman encourages you to improve and extend
and urges that
you contribute your extensions to the GNU library.
Eventually GNU (Gnu's Not Unix) will be a complete replacement
Everyone will be free to use, copy, study and change the GNU system.
was written by Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation.
For detailed credits and acknowledgments, see the GNU Emacs manual.
Copyright 1995, 1999-2021 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this
document provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are
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