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emacs - GNU project Emacs
emacs [ command-line switches ] [ files ... ]
GNU Emacs is a version of Emacs, written by the author of the original
(PDP-10) Emacs, Richard Stallman.
The primary documentation of GNU Emacs is in the GNU Emacs Manual,
which you can read on line using Info, a subsystem of Emacs. Please
look there for complete and up-to-date documentation. This man page is
updated only when someone volunteers to do so; the Emacs maintainers'
priority goal is to minimize the amount of time this man page takes
away from other more useful projects.
The user functionality of GNU Emacs encompasses everything other Emacs
editors do, and it is easily extensible since its editing commands are
written in Lisp.
Emacs has an extensive interactive help facility, but the facility
assumes that you know how to manipulate Emacs windows and buffers.
CTRL-h (backspace or CTRL-h) enters the Help facility. Help Tutorial
(CTRL-h t) requests an interactive tutorial which can teach beginners
the fundamentals of Emacs in a few minutes. Help Apropos (CTRL-h a)
helps you find a command given its functionality, Help Character (CTRL-
h c) describes a given character's effect, and Help Function (CTRL-h f)
describes a given Lisp function specified by name.
Emacs's Undo can undo several steps of modification to your buffers, so
it is easy to recover from editing mistakes.
GNU Emacs's many special packages handle mail reading (RMail) and send-
ing (Mail), outline editing (Outline), compiling (Compile), running
subshells within Emacs windows (Shell), running a Lisp read-eval-print
loop (Lisp-Interaction-Mode), and automated psychotherapy (Doctor).
There is an extensive reference manual, but users of other Emacses
should have little trouble adapting even without a copy. Users new to
Emacs will be able to use basic features fairly rapidly by studying the
tutorial and using the self-documentation features.
The following options are of general interest:
file Edit file.
+number Go to the line specified by number (do not insert a space
between the "+" sign and the number).
-q Do not load an init file.
-u user Load user's init file.
-t file Use specified file as the terminal instead of using stdin/std-
out. This must be the first argument specified in the command
The following options are lisp-oriented (these options are processed in
the order encountered):
Execute the lisp function function.
-l file Load the lisp code in the file file.
The following options are useful when running Emacs as a batch editor:
-batch Edit in batch mode. The editor will send messages to stderr.
This option must be the first in the argument list. You must
use -l and -f options to specify files to execute and functions
-kill Exit Emacs while in batch mode.
Using Emacs with X
Emacs has been tailored to work well with the X window system. If you
run Emacs from under X windows, it will create its own X window to dis-
play in. You will probably want to start the editor as a background
process so that you can continue using your original window.
Emacs can be started with the following X switches:
Specifies the name which should be assigned to the initial
Emacs window. This controls looking up X resources as well as
the window title.
Specifies the title for the initial X window.
-r Display the Emacs window in reverse video.
-i Use the "kitchen sink" bitmap icon when iconifying the Emacs
-font font, -fn font
Set the Emacs window's font to that specified by font. You
will find the various X fonts in the /usr/lib/X11/fonts direc-
tory. Note that Emacs 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 width font. Furthermore, fonts whose name are of the
form widthxheight are generally fixed width, as is the font
fixed. See xlsfonts(1) for more information.
When you specify a font, be sure to put a space between the
switch and the font name.
Set the Emacs window's border width to the number of pixels
specified by pixels. Defaults to one pixel on each side of the
Set the window's internal border width to the number of pixels
specified by pixels. Defaults to one pixel of padding on each
side of the window.
Set the Emacs window's width, height, and position as speci-
fied. The geometry specification is in the standard X format;
see X(1) for more information. The width and height are speci-
fied in characters; the default is 80 by 24.
On color displays, sets the color of the text.
See the file /usr/lib/X11/rgb.txt for a list of valid color
On color displays, sets the color of the window's background.
On color displays, sets the color of the window's border.
On color displays, sets the color of the window's text cursor.
On color displays, sets the color of the window's mouse cursor.
-d displayname, -display displayname
Create the Emacs window on the display specified by display-
name. Must be the first option specified in the command line.
-nw Tells Emacs not to use its special interface to X. If you use
this switch when invoking Emacs from an xterm(1) window, dis-
play is done in that window. This must be the first option
specified in the command line.
You can set X default values for your Emacs windows in your .Xresources
file (see xrdb(1)). Use the following format:
where value specifies the default value of keyword. Emacs lets you set
default values for the following keywords:
font (class Font)
Sets the window's text font.
reverseVideo (class ReverseVideo)
If reverseVideo's value is set to on, the window will be dis-
played in reverse video.
bitmapIcon (class BitmapIcon)
If bitmapIcon's value is set to on, the window will iconify
into the "kitchen sink."
borderWidth (class BorderWidth)
Sets the window's border width in pixels.
internalBorder (class BorderWidth)
Sets the window's internal border width in pixels.
foreground (class Foreground)
For color displays, sets the window's text color.
background (class Background)
For color displays, sets the window's background color.
borderColor (class BorderColor)
For color displays, sets the color of the window's border.
cursorColor (class Foreground)
For color displays, sets the color of the window's text cursor.
pointerColor (class Foreground)
For color displays, sets the color of the window's mouse cur-
geometry (class Geometry)
Sets the geometry of the Emacs window (as described above).
title (class Title)
Sets the title of the Emacs window.
iconName (class Title)
Sets the icon name for the Emacs window icon.
If you try to set color values while using a black and white display,
the window's characteristics will default as follows: the foreground
color will be set to black, the background color will be set to white,
the border color will be set to grey, and the text and mouse cursors
will be set to black.
Using the Mouse
The following lists the mouse button bindings for the Emacs window
MOUSE BUTTON FUNCTION
left Set point.
middle Paste text.
right Cut text into X cut buffer.
SHIFT-middle Cut text into X cut buffer.
SHIFT-right Paste text.
CTRL-middle Cut text into X cut buffer and kill it.
CTRL-right Select this window, then split it into two win-
dows. Same as typing CTRL-x 2.
CTRL-SHIFT-left X buffer menu--hold the buttons and keys down,
wait for menu to appear, select buffer, and
release. Move mouse out of menu and release to
CTRL-SHIFT-middle X help menu--pop up index card menu for Emacs
CTRL-SHIFT-right Select window with mouse, and delete all other
windows. Same as typing CTRL-x 1.
You can order printed copies of the GNU Emacs Manual from the Free
Software Foundation, which develops GNU software. See the file ORDERS
for ordering information.
Your local Emacs maintainer 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 TeX source to the man-
ual is also included in the Emacs source distribution.
/usr/local/info - files for the Info documentation browser (a subsystem
of Emacs) to refer to. Currently not much of Unix is documented here,
but the complete text of the Emacs reference manual is included in a
convenient tree structured form.
/usr/local/share/emacs/$VERSION/src - C source files and object files
/usr/local/share/emacs/$VERSION/lisp - Lisp source files and compiled
files that define most editing commands. Some are preloaded; others
are autoloaded from this directory when used.
/usr/local/share/emacs/$VERSION/etc - various programs that are used
with GNU Emacs, and some files of information.
/usr/local/share/emacs/$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.
/usr/local/share/emacs/$VERSION/etc/OTHER.EMACSES discusses GNU Emacs
vs. other versions of Emacs.
/usr/local/share/emacs/$VERSION/etc/SERVICE lists people offering vari-
ous services to assist users of GNU Emacs, including education, trou-
bleshooting, porting and customization.
These files also have information useful to anyone wishing to write
programs in the Emacs Lisp extension language, which has not yet been
/usr/local/com/emacs/lock - holds lock files that are made for all
files being modified in Emacs, to prevent simultaneous modification of
one file by two users.
/usr/lib/X11/rgb.txt - list of valid X color names.
There is a mailing list, firstname.lastname@example.org on the internet
(ucbvax!prep.ai.mit.edu!bug-gnu-emacs on UUCPnet), 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 Emacs Bugs'' near
the end of the reference manual (or Info system) for hints on how and
when to report bugs. Also, include the version number of the Emacs you
are running in every bug report that you send in.
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, look in the SERVICE file (see
above) for a list of people who offer it.
Please do not send anything but bug reports to this mailing list. Send
requests to be added to mailing lists to the special list info-gnu-
email@example.com (or the corresponding UUCP address). For
more information about Emacs mailing lists, see the file
/usr/local/emacs/etc/MAILINGLISTS. 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 easily reproduced.
Bugs that I know about are: shell will not work with programs running
in Raw mode on some Unix versions.
Emacs is free; anyone may redistribute copies of Emacs to anyone under
the terms stated in the Emacs General Public License, a copy of which
accompanies each copy of Emacs and which also appears in the reference
Copies of Emacs may sometimes be received packaged with distributions
of Unix systems, but it is never included in the scope of any license
covering those systems. Such inclusion violates the terms on which
distribution is permitted. In fact, the primary purpose of the General
Public License is to prohibit anyone from attaching any other restric-
tions to redistribution of Emacs.
Richard Stallman encourages you to improve and extend Emacs, and urges
that you contribute your extensions to the GNU library. Eventually GNU
(Gnu's Not Unix) will be a complete replacement for Berkeley Unix.
Everyone will be free to use, copy, study and change the GNU system.
X(1), xlsfonts(1), xterm(1), xrdb(1)
Emacs was written by Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation.
Joachim Martillo and Robert Krawitz added the X features.
Copyright (c) 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001 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 1.1 or
any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no
Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
This document is part of a collection distributed under the GNU Free
Documentation License. If you want to distribute this document sepa-
rately from the collection, you can do so by adding a copy of the
license to the document, as described in section 6 of the license. A
copy of the license is included in the gfdl(1) man page, and in the
section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License" in the Emacs manual.
4th Berkeley Distribution 1995 December 7 EMACS(1)
© 1994 Man-cgi 1.15, Panagiotis Christias <firstname.lastname@example.org>