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A Quick Guide to Emacs

Emacs is a very powerful text editor which you can use to create or edit text files on CUNIX. To start Emacs, type emacs at the UNIX $ prompt. Editing commands are issued by first pressing the Escape key (shown below as M) followed by a command character or by holding down the Control key (shown below as C) and typing a command character.

Emacs 20.7, the version available on the CUNIX Cluster, has X-windows (graphics) support: when run in an X environment, such as on a ColumbiaNet Station or an HP workstation (251 Mudd), and the DISPLAY variable is set correctly, Emacs is displayed in a separate window with a pull-down menu on the top and full mouse control.

If you are using Emacs outside an X environment and want to remove the pull-down menu for the current session, type Esc-X menu-bar-mode. To permanently remove this option, include the following line in the .emacs init file found in your home directory:

(menu-bar-mode nil)

See the man page ($ man emacs) for more information on using Emacs.

C- A control character. C-f means hold down the key marked Control or CTRL and then type f
M- A two-character command sequence where the first is the key marked ESC. M-f means press ESC, then f.
M-x string A command obtained by typing in its name. M-x revert-buffer means type ESC then x then revert-buffer then press the Enter or Return key.
point Emacs term for cursor position in current buffer
mark An invisible text marker in the file

Help and Information Functions
C-h t Display the Emacs tutorial (for novices)
C-h i Enter Info, the internal documentation browser
C-g Abort the current command (quit)
C-h m Describe special Emacs commands that are currently available
C-h k Describe a particular command (for example, C-h k C-a describes the C-a command)
C-h l Show the last 60 characters and commands typed
C-_ Undo effect of the last change/command (can be repeated)
C-h a string Show all commands containing string in their name
M-n Used before a command, repeats it n times (same as C-u n)
C-q Insert special characters (for example, typing C-q C-l inserts C-l)
C-x d Display and edit directory lists (C-h m shows commands)

Getting out
C-x C-s Write this buffer to disk (overwrites old file contents)
C-x C-w string Write this buffer to a disk file with specified name
C-x C-z Exit to the shell (can be continued later)
C-x C-c Exit and kill this Emacs (cannot be continued later)
M-x shell Start up a UNIX shell in its own buffer

Buffer Operations
C-x C-f file Get or create file named file in buffer of same name
C-x b file Select existing buffer named file for editing
C-x k file Delete buffer named file
C-x C-b Display the list of available buffers
M-< Move to the top of the current buffer/file
M-> Move to the end of the current buffer/file

Character Operations
C-b Move point one character to the left (backward)
C-f Move point one character to the right (forward)
C-p Move point up one line (previous line)
C-n Move point down one line (next line)
DELETE Delete character to the left of point (also marked RUBOUT)
C-d Delete character to the right of (or under) point
C-t Transpose two characters around point (for example, ht becomes th)

Word Operations
M-b Move point one word to the left (backward word)
M-f Move point one word to the right (forward word)
M-DELETE Delete one word to the left (C-y yanks it back at point)
M-d Delete one word to the right (C-y yanks it back at point)
M-t Reverse words around point (for example, if only becomes only if)

Line Operations
C-a Move point to the beginning of this line
C-e Move point to the end of this line
C-o Open up blank line at point
C-x C-o Close up all blank lines above and below point
C-k Delete from point to end of line (C-y yanks it back)
M-0 C-k Delete from beginning of line to point (C-y yanks it back )

Sentence Operations
M-a Move point to the beginning of this sentence
M-e Move point to the end of this sentence
C-x DELETE Delete beginning of sentence to point (C-y yanks it back)
M-k Delete from point to end of sentence (C-y yanks it back)

Paragraph Operations
M-{ Move point to beginning of this paragraph
M-} Move point to end of this paragraph
M-q Fill this paragraph
M-1 M-q Justify this paragraph
M-n C-x f Set fill column to n (for example, M-60 C-x f sets it to 60)

Screen Operations
C-v Move to next screen of text (screens overlap by one line)
M-v Move to previous screen (overlaps by one line)
C-l Redisplay current screen and center point

Page Operations
C-x [ Move to beginning of this page (previous C-lcharacter)
C-x ] Move to end of current page (next C-lcharacter)

Search and Replace
C-s string Search forward for string, one character at a time
C-r string Search backward for string, one character at a time
M-x replace-string string1 string2 Replace string1 with string2 (prompts for strings)
M-x query-replace string1 string2 Optionally replace string1 with string2, but confirms each

Region Operations
A region is the area of buffer between the point and mark.
Some commands set the mark, so check them before using.
C-@ Set the mark
C-x C-x Exchange point and mark (move to other end of region)
C-w Delete region (C-y yanks it back)
C-y Yank back the last deleted text at point

Window Operations
C-x 2 Split screen into two windows (same buffer in each)
C-x 1 Make this window the only one (delete all others)
C-x o Move to other window on screen
ESC C-v Display the next screen in the other window