emacs - GNU project Emacs editor
[ command-line switches
] [ files ...
is a version of Emacs
, written by the author of the
original (PDP-10) Emacs
, Richard Stallman. 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 program. 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 Emacs
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.
's 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:
- Edit file.
- --file file, --find-file file,
- The same as specifying file directly as an
- Go to the line specified by number (do not insert a
space between the "+" sign and the number). This applies only to
the next file specified.
- Go to the specified line and column.
- --chdir directory
- Change to directory.
- -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.
- Enable Emacs Lisp debugger during the processing of
the user init file ~/.emacs. This is useful for debugging problems
in the init file.
- -u user, --user user
- Load user's init file.
- -t file, --terminal file
- Use specified file as the terminal instead of using
stdin/stdout. This must be the first argument specified in the command
- Start Emacs as a daemon, enabling the Emacs server and
disconnecting from the terminal. You can then use the emacsclient command
to connect to the server (see emacsclient(1)).
- Display Emacs version information and exit.
- Display this help and exit.
The following options are Lisp-oriented (these options are processed in the
- -f function, --funcall
- Execute the lisp function function.
- -l file, --load file
- Load the lisp code in the file file.
- --eval expr, --execute
- Evaluate the Lisp expression expr.
The following options are useful when running Emacs
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
- Run file as an Emacs Lisp script.
- --insert file
- Insert contents of file into the current
- Exit Emacs while in batch mode.
- -L dir, --directory dir
- Add dir to the list of directories Emacs
searches for Lisp files.
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 display
in. 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:
- --name name
- Specify the name which should be assigned to the initial
Emacs window. This controls looking up X resources as well as the
- -T name, --title name
- Specify the title for the initial X window.
- -r, -rv, --reverse-video
- Display the Emacs window in reverse video.
- -fn font, --font 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 directory. 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
- --xrm resources
- Set additional X resources.
- --color, --color=mode
- Override color mode for character terminals; mode
defaults to "auto", and can also be "never",
"auto", "always", or a mode name like
- -bw pixels, --border-width
- Set the Emacs window's border width to the number of
pixels specified by pixels. Defaults to one pixel on each side of
- -ib pixels, --internal-border
- 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.
- -g geometry, --geometry
- Set the Emacs window's width, height, and position
as specified. The geometry specification is in the standard X format; see
X(7) for more information. The width and height are specified in
characters; the default is 80 by 24. 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 and menu
- -lsp pixels, --line-spacing
- 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
- On color displays, set the color of the text.
Use the command M-x list-colors-display for a list of valid color
- -bg color, --background-color
- On color displays, set the color of the window's
- -bd color, --border-color
- On color displays, set the color of the window's
- -cr color, --cursor-color
- On color displays, set the color of the window's text
- -ms color, --mouse-color
- On color displays, set the color of the window's mouse
- -d displayname, --display
- Create the Emacs window on the display specified by
displayname. Must be the first option specified in the command
- -nbi, --no-bitmap-icon
- Do not use picture of gnu for Emacs icon.
- Start Emacs in iconified state.
- -nbc, --no-blinking-cursor
- Disable blinking cursor.
- --parent-id xid
- Set parent window.
- -nw, --no-window-system
- Tell Emacs not to create a graphical frame. If you
use this switch when invoking Emacs from an xterm(1) window,
display is done in that window.
- -D, --basic-display
- This option disables many display features; use it for
You can set X
default values for your Emacs
windows in your
file (see xrdb(1)
). Use the following format:
specifies the default value of keyword
lets you set default values for the following keywords:
- background (class Background)
- For color displays, sets the window's background
- bitmapIcon (class BitmapIcon)
- If bitmapIcon's value is set to on, the
window will iconify into the "kitchen sink."
- borderColor (class BorderColor)
- For color displays, sets the color of the window's
- 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
- cursorBlink (class CursorBlink)
- Specifies whether to make the cursor blink. The default is
on. Use off or false to turn cursor blinking
- 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
fullboth, maximized, fullwidth, or fullheight,
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 Emacs window (as described
- iconName (class Title)
- Sets the icon name for the Emacs window icon.
- internalBorder (class BorderWidth)
- Sets the window's internal border width in pixels.
- lineSpacing (class LineSpacing)
- Additional space ("leading") between lines, in
- menuBar (class MenuBar)
- Gives frames menu bars if on; don't have menu bars
if off. 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)
- If none, 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
- privateColormap (class PrivateColormap)
- If on, use a private color map, in the case where
the "default visual" of class PseudoColor and
Emacs is using it.
- reverseVideo (class ReverseVideo)
- If reverseVideo's value is set to on, the
window will be displayed in reverse video.
- screenGamma (class ScreenGamma)
- Gamma correction for colors, equivalent to the frame
- scrollBarWidth (class ScrollBarWidth)
- The scroll bar width in pixels, equivalent to the frame
- selectionFont (class SelectionFont)
- Font name for pop-up menu items, in non-toolkit versions of
Emacs. (For toolkit versions, see the Emacs manual, sections
"Lucid Resources" and "Motif Resources".)
- selectionTimeout (class
- 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 on. Synchronous
mode is useful for debugging X problems.
- title (class Title)
- Sets the title of the Emacs window.
- toolBar (class ToolBar)
- Number of lines to reserve for the tool bar.
- useXIM (class UseXIM)
- Turns off use of X input methods (XIM) if false or
- verticalScrollBars (class ScrollBars)
- Gives frames scroll bars if on; suppresses scroll
bars if off.
- visualClass (class VisualClass)
- Specify the "visual" that X should use. This
tells X how to handle colors. The value should start with one of
TrueColor, PseudoColor, DirectColor,
StaticColor, GrayScale, and StaticGray, followed by
-depth, where depth is the number of color
You can order printed copies of the GNU Emacs Manual from the Free Software
Foundation, which develops GNU software. See the online store at
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 distribution.
/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/$VERSION/lisp — Lisp source files and compiled
files that define most editing commands. Some are preloaded; others are
autoloaded from this directory when used.
/usr/local/libexec/emacs/$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, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 every
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 easily reproduced.
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
<http://www.fsf.org/resources/service/> for a list of people who offer
Please do not send anything but bug reports to this mailing list. For other
Emacs lists, see <http://savannah.gnu.org/mail/?group=emacs>.
is free; anyone may redistribute copies of Emacs
under the terms stated in the GNU 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 GNU General Public License is
to prohibit anyone from attaching any other restrictions to redistribution of
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 Unix. 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 (C) 1995, 1999-2017 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 preserved on all
Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this document
under the conditions for verbatim copying, 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 document into
another language, under the above conditions for modified versions, except
that this permission notice may be stated in a translation approved by the
Free Software Foundation.