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@shorttitlepage GNU Emacs Manual

GNU Emacs Manual

Thirteenth Edition, Updated for Emacs Version 20.3

Richard Stallman Copyright (C) 1985, 1986, 1987, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Thirteenth Edition
Updated for Emacs Version 20.3,
August 1998

ISBN 1-882114-06-X

Published by the Free Software Foundation
59 Temple Place, Suite 330
Boston, MA 02111-1307 USA

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this manual provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this manual under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided also that the sections entitled "The GNU Manifesto", "Distribution" and "GNU General Public License" are included exactly as in the original, and provided that the entire resulting derived work is distributed under the terms of a permission notice identical to this one.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute translations of this manual into another language, under the above conditions for modified versions, except that the sections entitled "The GNU Manifesto", "Distribution" and "GNU General Public License" may be included in a translation approved by the Free Software Foundation instead of in the original English.

Cover art by Etienne Suvasa.


This manual documents the use and simple customization of the Emacs editor. The reader is not expected to be a programmer; simple customizations do not require programming skill. But the user who is not interested in customizing can ignore the scattered customization hints.

This is primarily a reference manual, but can also be used as a primer. For complete beginners, it is a good idea to start with the on-line, learn-by-doing tutorial, before reading the manual. To run the tutorial, start Emacs and type C-h t. This way you can learn Emacs by using Emacs on a specially designed file which describes commands, tells you when to try them, and then explains the results you see.

On first reading, just skim chapters 1 and 2, which describe the notational conventions of the manual and the general appearance of the Emacs display screen. Note which questions are answered in these chapters, so you can refer back later. After reading chapter 4, you should practice the commands there. The next few chapters describe fundamental techniques and concepts that are used constantly. You need to understand them thoroughly, experimenting with them if necessary.

Chapters 14 through 19 describe intermediate-level features that are useful for all kinds of editing. Chapter 20 and following chapters describe features that you may or may not want to use; read those chapters when you need them.

Read the Trouble chapter if Emacs does not seem to be working properly. It explains how to cope with some common problems (see section Dealing with Emacs Trouble), as well as when and how to report Emacs bugs (see section Reporting Bugs). To find the documentation on a particular command, look in the index. Keys (character commands) and command names have separate indexes. There is also a glossary, with a cross reference for each term.

This manual is available as a printed book and also as an Info file. The Info file is for on-line perusal with the Info program, which will be the principal way of viewing documentation on-line in the GNU system. Both the Info file and the Info program itself are distributed along with GNU Emacs. The Info file and the printed book contain substantially the same text and are generated from the same source files, which are also distributed along with GNU Emacs.

GNU Emacs is a member of the Emacs editor family. There are many Emacs editors, all sharing common principles of organization. For information on the underlying philosophy of Emacs and the lessons learned from its development, write for a copy of AI memo 519a, "Emacs, the Extensible, Customizable Self-Documenting Display Editor," to Publications Department, Artificial Intelligence Lab, 545 Tech Square, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. At last report they charge $2.25 per copy. Another useful publication is LCS TM-165, "A Cookbook for an Emacs," by Craig Finseth, available from Publications Department, Laboratory for Computer Science, 545 Tech Square, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. The price today is $3.

This edition of the manual is intended for use with GNU Emacs installed on GNU and Unix systems. GNU Emacs can also be used on VMS, MS-DOS (also called MS-DOG), Windows NT, and Windows 95 systems. Those systems use different file name syntax; in addition, VMS and MS-DOS do not support all GNU Emacs features. We don't try to describe VMS usage in this manual. See section Emacs and MS-DOS, for information about using Emacs on MS-DOS.


GNU Emacs is free software; this means that everyone is free to use it and free to redistribute it on certain conditions. GNU Emacs is not in the public domain; it is copyrighted and there are restrictions on its distribution, but these restrictions are designed to permit everything that a good cooperating citizen would want to do. What is not allowed is to try to prevent others from further sharing any version of GNU Emacs that they might get from you. The precise conditions are found in the GNU General Public License that comes with Emacs and also appears following this section.

One way to get a copy of GNU Emacs is from someone else who has it. You need not ask for our permission to do so, or tell any one else; just copy it. If you have access to the Internet, you can get the latest distribution version of GNU Emacs by anonymous FTP; see the file `etc/FTP' in the Emacs distribution for more information.

You may also receive GNU Emacs when you buy a computer. Computer manufacturers are free to distribute copies on the same terms that apply to everyone else. These terms require them to give you the full sources, including whatever changes they may have made, and to permit you to redistribute the GNU Emacs received from them under the usual terms of the General Public License. In other words, the program must be free for you when you get it, not just free for the manufacturer.

You can also order copies of GNU Emacs from the Free Software Foundation on CD-ROM. This is a convenient and reliable way to get a copy; it is also a good way to help fund our work. (The Foundation has always received most of its funds in this way.) An order form is included in the file `etc/ORDERS' in the Emacs distribution, and on our web site in http://www.gnu.org/order/order.html. For further information, write to

Free Software Foundation
59 Temple Place, Suite 330
Boston, MA  02111-1307 USA

The income from distribution fees goes to support the foundation's purpose: the development of new free software, and improvements to our existing programs including GNU Emacs.

If you find GNU Emacs useful, please send a donation to the Free Software Foundation to support our work. Donations to the Free Software Foundation are tax deductible in the US. If you use GNU Emacs at your workplace, please suggest that the company make a donation. If company policy is unsympathetic to the idea of donating to charity, you might instead suggest ordering a CD-ROM from the Foundation occasionally, or subscribing to periodic updates.

Contributors to GNU Emacs include Per Abrahamsen, Jay K. Adams, Joe Arceneaux, Boaz Ben-Zvi, Jim Blandy, Terrence Brannon, Frank Bresz, Peter Breton, Kevin Broadey, Vincent Broman, David M. Brown, Hans Chalupsky, Bob Chassell, James Clark, Mike Clarkson, Andrew Csillag, Doug Cutting, Michael DeCorte, Gary Delp, Matthieu Devin, Eri Ding, Carsten Dominik, Scott Draves, Viktor Dukhovni, John Eaton, Rolf Ebert, Stephen Eglen, Torbj@"orn Einarsson, Tsugumoto Enami, Hans Henrik Eriksen, Michael Ernst, Ata Etemadi, Frederick Farnback, Fred Fish, Karl Fogel, Gary Foster, Noah Friedman, Keith Gabryelski, Kevin Gallagher, Kevin Gallo, Howard Gayle, Stephen Gildea, David Gillespie, Boris Goldowsky, Michelangelo Grigni, Michael Gschwind, Henry Guillaume, Doug Gwyn, Ken'ichi Handa , Chris Hanson, K. Shane Hartman, John Heidemann, Markus Heritsch, Karl Heuer, Manabu Higashida, Anders Holst, Kurt Hornik, Tom Houlder, Lars Ingebrigtsen, Andrew Innes, Michael K. Johnson, Kyle Jones, Tomoji Kagatani, Brewster Kahle, David Kaufman, Henry Kautz, Howard Kaye, Michael Kifer, Richard King, Larry K. Kolodney, Robert Krawitz, Sebastian Kremer, Geoff Kuenning, David K@aa gedal, Daniel LaLiberte, Aaron Larson, James R. Larus, Frederic Lepied, Lars Lindberg, Neil M. Mager, Ken Manheimer, Bill Mann, Brian Marick, Simon Marshall, Bengt Martensson, Charlie Martin, Thomas May, Roland McGrath, David Megginson, Wayne Mesard, Richard Mlynarik, Keith Moore, Erik Naggum, Thomas Neumann, Mike Newton, Jurgen Nickelsen, Jeff Norden, Andrew Norman, Jeff Peck, Damon Anton Permezel, Tom Perrine, Daniel Pfeiffer, Fred Pierresteguy, Christian Plaunt, Francesco A. Potorti, Michael D. Prange, Ashwin Ram, Eric S. Raymond, Paul Reilly, Edward M. Reingold, Rob Riepel, Roland B. Roberts, John Robinson, Danny Roozendaal, William Rosenblatt, Guillermo J. Rozas, Ivar Rummelhoff, Wolfgang Rupprecht, James B. Salem, Masahiko Sato, William Schelter, Ralph Schleicher, Gregor Schmid, Michael Schmidt, Ronald S. Schnell, Philippe Schnoebelen, Stephen Schoef, Randal Schwartz, Stanislav Shalunov, Mark Shapiro, Olin Shivers, Sam Shteingold, Espen Skoglund, Rick Sladkey, Lynn Slater, Chris Smith, David Smith, William Sommerfeld, Michael Staats, Ake Stenhoff, Peter Stephenson, Jonathan Stigelman, Steve Strassman, Jens T. Berger Thielemann, Spencer Thomas, Jim Thompson, Masanobu Umeda, Neil W. Van Dyke, Ulrik Vieth, Geoffrey Voelker, Johan Vromans, Barry Warsaw, Morten Welinder, Joseph Brian Wells, Ed Wilkinson, Mike Williams, Steven A. Wood, Dale R. Worley, Felix S. T. Wu, Tom Wurgler, Eli Zaretskii, Jamie Zawinski, and Neal Ziring.

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