There are two commands for exiting Emacs because there are two kinds of exiting: suspending Emacs and killing Emacs.
Suspending means stopping Emacs temporarily and returning control to its parent process (usually a shell), allowing you to resume editing later in the same Emacs job, with the same buffers, same kill ring, same undo history, and so on. This is the usual way to exit.
Killing Emacs means destroying the Emacs job. You can run Emacs again later, but you will get a fresh Emacs; there is no way to resume the same editing session after it has been killed.
suspend-emacs) or iconify a frame (
To suspend Emacs, type C-z (
suspend-emacs). This takes
you back to the shell from which you invoked Emacs. You can resume
Emacs with the shell command `%emacs' in most common shells.
On systems that do not support suspending programs, C-z starts an inferior shell that communicates directly with the terminal. Emacs waits until you exit the subshell. (The way to do that is probably with C-d or `exit', but it depends on which shell you use.) The only way on these systems to get back to the shell from which Emacs was run (to log out, for example) is to kill Emacs.
Suspending also fails if you run Emacs under a shell that doesn't
support suspending programs, even if the system itself does support it.
In such a case, you can set the variable
cannot-suspend to a
nil value to force C-z to start an inferior shell.
(One might also describe Emacs's parent shell as "inferior" for
failing to support job control properly, but that is a matter of taste.)
When Emacs communicates directly with an X server and creates its own
dedicated X windows, C-z has a different meaning. Suspending an
applications that uses its own X windows is not meaningful or useful.
Instead, C-z runs the command
which temporarily closes up the selected Emacs frame (see section Frames and X Windows).
The way to get back to a shell window is with the window manager.
To kill Emacs, type C-x C-c (
two-character key is used for this to make it harder to type. This
command first offers to save any modified file-visiting buffers. If you
do not save them all, it asks for reconfirmation with yes before
killing Emacs, since any changes not saved will be lost forever. Also,
if any subprocesses are still running, C-x C-c asks for
confirmation about them, since killing Emacs will kill the subprocesses
There is no way to restart an Emacs session once you have killed it. You can, however, arrange for Emacs to record certain session information, such as which files are visited, when you kill it, so that the next time you restart Emacs it will try to visit the same files and so on. See section Saving Emacs Sessions.
The operating system usually listens for certain special characters whose meaning is to kill or suspend the program you are running. This operating system feature is turned off while you are in Emacs. The meanings of C-z and C-x C-c as keys in Emacs were inspired by the use of C-z and C-c on several operating systems as the characters for stopping or killing a program, but that is their only relationship with the operating system. You can customize these keys to run any commands of your choice (see section Keymaps).
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