Last updated February 8, 1995


This is the introduction to a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) about GNU Emacs 19 with answers. Some of the answers are not valid for GNU Emacs 18.

The FAQ is posted to reduce the noise level in the newsgroup (which is also the help-gnu-emacs mailing list) which results from the repetition of frequently asked questions, wrong answers to these questions, corrections to the wrong answers, corrections to the corrections, debate, name calling, etc. Also, it serves as a repository of the canonical "best" answers to these questions. However, if you know a better answer or even a slight change that improves an answer, please tell us!

If you know the answer to a question in the FAQ list, please reply to the question by e-mail instead of posting. Help reduce noise!

Full instructions for getting the latest FAQ are in question 22.

There is no diff file for this version of the FAQ, as many things have changed since it was last updated.

Please suggest new questions, answers, wording changes, deletions, etc. The most helpful form for suggestions is a context diff (i.e., the output of `diff -c'). Include "FAQ" in the subject of messages sent to us about the FAQ list.

Please do not send questions to us just because you do not want to disturb a lot of people and you think we would know the answer. We do not have time to answer questions individually. :-(

Notation Used in FAQ

Skip this section and then come back if you don't understand some of the later answers.

1: What do these mean: C-h, M-C-a, RET, "ESC a", etc.?
2: What does "M-x command" mean?
3: How do I read topic XXX in the on-line manual?
4: What do these mean: etc/SERVICE, src/config.h, lisp/default.el?
5: What are FSF, LPF, OSF, GNU, RMS, FTP, and GPL?

General Questions

6: What is the LPF?
7: What is the real legal meaning of the GNU copyleft?
8: What are appropriate messages for, gnu.emacs.bug, comp.emacs, etc.?
9: Where can I get old postings to and other GNU groups?
10: Where should I report bugs and other problems with Emacs?
11: How do I unsubscribe from this mailing list?
12: What is the current address of the FSF?

On-line Help, Printed Manuals, Other Sources of Help

13: I'm just starting Emacs; how do I do basic editing?
14: How do I find out how to do something in Emacs?
15: How do I get a printed copy of the Emacs manual?
16: Where can I get documentation on Emacs Lisp?
17: How do I install a piece of Texinfo documentation?
18: How do I print a Texinfo file?
19: Can I view Info files without using Emacs?
20: What informational files are available for Emacs?
21: Where can I get help in installing Emacs?
22: Where can I get the latest version of this document (the FAQ list)?

Status of Emacs

23: Where does the name "Emacs" come from?
24: What is the latest version of Emacs?
25: What is different about Emacs 19?

Common Things People Want To Do

26: How do I set up a .emacs file properly?
27: How do I debug a .emacs file?
28: How do I make Emacs display the current line (or column) number?
29: How do I turn on abbrevs by default just in mode XXX?
30: How do I turn on auto-fill mode by default?
31: How do I make Emacs use a certain major mode for certain files?
32: How do I search for, delete, or replace unprintable (8-bit or control) characters?
33: How can I highlight a region of text in Emacs?
34: How do I control Emacs's case-sensitivity when searching/replacing?
35: How do I make Emacs wrap words for me?
36: Where can I get a better spelling checker for Emacs?
37: How can I spell-check TeX or *roff documents?
38: How do I change load-path?
39: How do I use an already running Emacs from another window?
40: How do I make Emacs recognize my compiler's funny error messages?
41: How do I indent switch statements like this?
42: How can I make Emacs automatically scroll horizontally?
43: How do I make Emacs "typeover" or "overwrite" instead of inserting?
44: How do I stop Emacs from beeping on a terminal?
45: How do I turn down the bell volume in Emacs running under X Windows?
46: How do I tell Emacs to automatically indent a new line to the indentation of the previous line?
47: How do I show which parenthesis matches the one I'm looking at?
48: In C mode, can I show just the lines that will be left after #ifdef commands are handled by the compiler?
49: Is there an equivalent to the `.' (dot) command of vi?
50: What are the valid X resource settings (i.e., stuff in .Xdefaults)?
51: How do I execute ("evaluate") a piece of Emacs Lisp code?
52: How do I change Emacs's idea of the tab character's length?
53: How do I insert `>' at the beginning of every line?
54: How do I insert "_^H" before each character in a region to get an underlined paragraph?
55: How do I repeat a command as many times as possible?
56: How do I make Emacs behave like this: when I go up or down, the cursor should stay in the same column even if the line is too short?
57: How do I tell Emacs to iconify itself?
58: How do I use regexps (regular expressions) in Emacs?
59: How do I perform a replace operation across more than one file?
60: Where is the documentation for "etags"?
61: How do I disable backup files?
62: How do I disable auto-save-mode?
63: How can I create or modify new pull-down menu options?
64: How do I delete menus and menu options?
65: What are hilit19 and font-lock modes, what is the difference between them, and how do I customize them?
66: How can I force Emacs to scroll only one line when I move past the bottom of the screen?
67: How can I replace highlighted text with what I type?
68: How can I edit MS-DOS files using Emacs?


69: Does Emacs have problems with files larger than 8 megabytes?
70: How do I get rid of the ^M junk in my shell buffer?
71: Why do I get "Process shell exited abnormally with code 1"?
72: Where is the termcap/terminfo entry for terminal type "emacs"?
73: Why does Emacs spontaneously start displaying "I-search:" and beeping?
74: Why can't Emacs talk to certain hosts (or certain hostnames)?
75: Why does Emacs say "Error in init file"?
76: Why does Emacs ignore my X resources (my .Xdefaults file)?
77: Why does Emacs take 20 seconds to visit a file?
78: How do I edit a file with a `$' in its name?
79: Why does shell mode lose track of the shell's current directory?
80: Are there any security risks in Emacs?

Difficulties Building/Installing/Porting Emacs

81: How do I install Emacs?
82: How do I update Emacs to the latest version?
83: What should I do if I have trouble building Emacs?
84: Why does linking Emacs with -lX11 fail?

Finding/Getting Emacs and Related Packages

85: Where can I get Emacs on the net (or by snail mail)?
86: How do I find a Emacs Lisp package that does XXX?
87: Where can I get Emacs Lisp packages that don't come with Emacs?
88: How do I submit code to the Emacs Lisp Archive?
89: Where can I get other up-to-date GNU stuff?
90: What is the difference between Emacs and XEmacs (formerly "Lucid Emacs")?
91: Where can I get Emacs for my PC running MS-DOS?
92: Where can I get Emacs for Microsoft Windows?
93: Where can I get Emacs for Windows NT?
94: Where can I get Emacs for my PC running OS/2?
95: Where can I get Emacs for my Atari ST?
96: Where can I get Emacs for my Amiga?
97: Where can I get Emacs for NeXTSTEP?
98: Where can I get Emacs for my Apple computer?
99: Where do I get Emacs that runs on VMS under DECwindows?
100: Where can I get modes for Lex, Yacc/Bison, Bourne shell, Csh, C++, Objective C, Pascal, and Awk?
101: What is the IP address of XXX.YYY.ZZZ?

Major Emacs Lisp Packages, Emacs Extensions, and Related Programs

This section lists version numbers, FTP sites, mailing lists, newsgroups, and other information for many important packages, extensions, and related programs. There is some overlap with the Lisp Code Directory, but these entries give more detailed information.

If you know of any other packages that are so substantial that they deserve to be mentioned here, please let us know. Having its own mailing list or newsgroup or more than half a megabyte of source code are good signs.

102: VM (View Mail) -- another mail reader within Emacs
103: SuperCite -- mail and news citation package within Emacs
104: Calc -- poor man's Mathematica within Emacs
105: VIP -- vi emulation for Emacs
106: AUC TeX -- enhanced LaTeX mode with debugging facilities
107: Hyperbole -- extensible hypertext management system within Emacs
108: BBDB -- personal Info Rolodex integrated with mail/news readers
109: Ispell -- spell checker in C with interface for Emacs
110: W3-mode -- A World-Wide Web browser inside of Emacs
111: EDB -- Database program for Emacs; replaces forms editing modes
112: Patch -- program to apply "diffs" for updating files

Changing Key Bindings and Handling Key Binding Problems

113: How do I bind keys (including function keys) to commands?
114: Why does Emacs say "Key sequence XXX uses invalid prefix characters"?
115: Why doesn't this [terminal or window-system setup] code work in my .emacs file, but it works just fine after Emacs starts up?
116: How do I use function keys under X Windows?
117: How do I tell what characters or symbols my function or arrow keys emit?
118: How do I set the X key "translations" for Emacs?
119: How do I handle C-s and C-q being used for flow control?
120: How do I bind `C-s' and `C-q' (or any key) if these keys are filtered out?
121: Why does the "Backspace" key invoke help?
122: Why doesn't Emacs look at the stty settings for Backspace vs. Delete?
123: How do I "swap" two keys?
124: How do I produce C-XXX with my keyboard?
125: What if I don't have a Meta key?
126: What if I don't have an Escape key?
127: Can I make my "Compose Character" key behave like a Meta key?
128: How do I bind a combination of modifier key and function key?
129: Why doesn't my Meta key work in an xterm window?
130: Why doesn't my ExtendChar key work as a Meta key under HP-UX 8.0?

Using Emacs with Alternate Character Sets

131: How do I make Emacs display 8-bit characters?
132: How do I input 8-bit characters?
133: Where can I get an Emacs that handles kanji, Chinese, or other character sets?
134: Where is an Emacs that can handle Semitic (right-to-left) alphabets?

Mail and News

135: How do I change the included text prefix in mail/news followups?
136: How do I save a copy of outgoing mail?
137: Why doesn't Emacs expand my aliases when sending mail?
138: Why does Rmail think all my saved messages are one big message?
139: How can I sort the messages in my Rmail folder?
140: Why does Rmail need to write to /usr/spool/mail?
141: How do I recover my mail files after Rmail munges their format?
142: How do I make Emacs automatically start my mail/news reader?
143: How do I read news under Emacs?
144: Why doesn't Gnus work via NNTP?
145: How do I view news articles with embedded underlining (e.g., ClariNews)?
146: How do I save all the items of a multi-part posting in Gnus?
147: Why does Gnus put the subjects in replies beyond the 80th column?
148: How do I make Gnus start up faster?
149: How do I catch up all newsgroups in Gnus?
150: Why can't I kill in Gnus based on the Newsgroups/Keywords/Control headers?
151: How do I get rid of flashing messages in Gnus for slow connections?
152: Why is catch up slow in Gnus?
153: Why does Gnus hang for a long time when posting?
154: Why don't my news postings in Gnus get past the local machine?
155: Why doesn't Gnus generate the "Lines:" header?
156: How do I kill all articles in Gnus but those matching a pattern?
157: How do I abort sending mail or posting a message?
158: How do I fix and resubmit a rejected Gnus posting?
159: How do I automatically mail a copy of a Gnus followup message to the original poster?
160: How do I make Gnus behave more like nn, where I scan all the messages and select the ones I want before I read any?

This FAQ was last updated on February 8, 1995.

Copyright 1994, 1995 Reuven M. Lerner
Copyright 1992, 1993 Steven Byrnes
Copyright 1990, 1991, 1992 Joseph Brian Wells

This list of frequently asked questions about GNU Emacs with answers ("FAQ") may be translated into other languages, transformed into other formats (e.g. Texinfo, Info, WWW, WAIS), and updated with new information.

The same conditions apply to any derivative of the FAQ as apply to the FAQ itself. Every copy of the FAQ must include this notice or an approved translation, information on who is currently maintaining the FAQ and how to contact them (including their e-mail address), and information on where the latest version of the FAQ is archived (including FTP information).

The FAQ may be copied and redistributed under these conditions, except that the FAQ may not be embedded in a larger literary work unless that work itself allows free copying and redistribution.

People who helped with this version of the FAQ:

Ethan Bradford <>, William G. Dubuque <>, Michael Ernst <>, and Denby Wong <3dw16@qlink.QueensU.CA>.

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