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GNU Emacs Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), part 1/5

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Archive-name: GNU-Emacs-FAQ/part1

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
                       GNU Emacs FAQ: Introduction

This is the introduction to a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ)
about GNU Emacs 20 with answers.  Some of the answers are not valid for GNU
Emacs 18 or 19.

The FAQ is posted (in five parts) 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, and generally unproductive use of
the mailing list.  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!

The FAQ is crossposted to comp.emacs because some sites do not receive the
gnu.* newsgroups.  The FAQ is also crossposted to news.answers.

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

A diff file between the last version of the FAQ and this one should have
been posted along with the FAQ.  If you did not receive the diff file, you
can get it at

Please suggest new questions, answers, wording changes, and deletions by
sending mail to  The most helpful form for
suggestions is a context diff (i.e., the output of `diff -c').  Include
"FAQ" in the subject of messages 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.  :-(

Reuven M. Lerner <> and the FAQ team (a full list is
at the bottom of the FAQ).


Notation Used in FAQ

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 20?

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


71:  Does Emacs have problems with files larger than 8 megabytes?
72:  How do I get rid of ^M or echoed commands in my shell buffer?
73:  Why do I get "Process shell exited abnormally with code 1"?
74:  Where is the termcap/terminfo entry for terminal type "emacs"?
75:  Why does Emacs spontaneously start displaying "I-search:" and beeping?
76:  Why can't Emacs talk to certain hosts (or certain hostnames)?
77:  Why does Emacs say "Error in init file"?
78:  Why does Emacs ignore my X resources (my .Xdefaults file)?
79:  Why does Emacs take 20 seconds to visit a file?
80:  How do I edit a file with a `$' in its name?
81:  Why does shell mode lose track of the shell's current directory?
82:  Are there any security risks in Emacs?
83: Dired says, "no file on this line" when I try to do something.

Difficulties Building/Installing/Porting Emacs

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

Finding/Getting Emacs and Related Packages

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

Major Emacs Lisp Packages, Emacs Extensions, and Related Programs

104: VM (View Mail) -- another mail reader within Emacs, with MIME support
105: Supercite -- mail and news citation package within Emacs
106: Calc -- poor man's Mathematica within Emacs
107: VIPER -- vi emulation for Emacs
108: AUC TeX -- enhanced LaTeX mode with debugging facilities
109: BBDB -- personal Info Rolodex integrated with mail/news readers
110: Ispell -- spell checker in C with interface for Emacs
111: W3-mode -- A World Wide Web browser inside of Emacs
112: EDB -- Database program for Emacs; replaces forms editing modes
113: Mailcrypt -- PGP interface within Emacs mail and news
114: JDE -- Development environment for Java programming
115: Patch -- program to apply "diffs" for updating files

Changing Key Bindings and Handling Key Binding Problems

116: How do I bind keys (including function keys) to commands?
117: Why does Emacs say "Key sequence XXX uses invalid prefix characters"?
118: Why doesn't this [terminal or window-system setup] code work in my
     .emacs file, but it works just fine after Emacs starts up?
119: How do I use function keys under X Windows?
120: How do I tell what characters or symbols my function or arrow keys
121: How do I set the X key "translations" for Emacs?
122: How do I handle C-s and C-q being used for flow control?
123: How do I bind `C-s' and `C-q' (or any key) if these keys are filtered
124: Why does the "Backspace" key invoke help?
125: Why doesn't Emacs look at the stty settings for Backspace vs. Delete?
126: How do I "swap" two keys?
127: How do I produce C-XXX with my keyboard?
128: What if I don't have a Meta key?
129: What if I don't have an Escape key?
130: Can I make my "Compose Character" key behave like a Meta key?
131: How do I bind a combination of modifier key and function key?
132: Why doesn't my Meta key work in an xterm window?
133: Why doesn't my ExtendChar key work as a Meta key under HP-UX 8.0
     and 9.x?

Using Emacs with Alternate Character Sets

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

Mail and News

138: How do I change the included text prefix in mail/news followups?
139: How do I save a copy of outgoing mail?
140: Why doesn't Emacs expand my aliases when sending mail?
141: Why does Rmail think all my saved messages are one big message?
142: How can I sort the messages in my Rmail folder?
143: Why does Rmail need to write to /usr/spool/mail?
144: How do I recover my mail files after Rmail munges their format?
145: How can I force Rmail to reply to the sender of a message, but not the
  other recipients?
146: How can I get my favorite Emacs mail package to support MIME?  
147: How do I make Emacs automatically start my mail/news reader?
148: How do I read news under Emacs?
149: Why doesn't Gnus work via NNTP?
150: How do I view news articles with embedded underlining (e.g.,
151: How do I save all the items of a multi-part posting in Gnus?
152: How do I make Gnus start up faster?
153: How do I catch up all newsgroups in Gnus?
154: Why can't I kill in Gnus based on the Newsgroups/Keywords/Control
155: How do I get rid of flashing messages in Gnus for slow connections?
156: Why is catch up slow in Gnus?
157: Why does Gnus hang for a long time when posting?
158: Where can I find out more about Gnus?


If you are viewing this text in a GNU Emacs Buffer, you can type "M-2 C-x
$" to get an overview of just the questions.  Then, when you want to look
at the text of the answers, just type "C-x $".

To search for a question numbered XXX, type "M-C-s ^XXX:", followed by a
C-r if that doesn't work.  Type RET to end the search.

If you have w3-mode installed (see question 111), you can visit ftp and
HTTP uniform resource locators (URLs) by placing the cursor on the URL and
typing M-x w3-follow-url-at-point.

The FAQ is posted in five parts; if you are missing a section or would
prefer to read the FAQ in a single file, see question 22.

  Time-stamp: <1999-02-10 18:44:04 reuven>

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.?

  C-x: press the `x' key while holding down the Control key

  M-x: press the `x' key while holding down the Meta key (if your computer
       doesn't have a Meta key, see question 128)

  M-C-x: press the `x' key while holding down both Control and Meta
  C-M-x: a synonym for the above

  LFD: Linefeed or Newline; same as C-j
  RET: Return, sometimes marked Enter; same as C-m
  DEL: Delete,  usually not the same as Backspace; same as C-? (See
       question 124 if deleting invokes Emacs help)
  ESC: Escape; same as C-[
  TAB: Tab; same as C-i
  SPC: Space bar

  Key sequences longer than one key (and some single-key sequences) are
  inside double quotes or on lines by themselves.  Any real spaces in such
  a key sequence should be ignored; only SPC really means press the space

  The ASCII code sent by C-x (except for C-?) is the value that would be
  sent by pressing just `x' minus 96 (or 64 for uppercase `X') and will be
  from 0 to 31.  The ASCII code sent by M-x is the sum of 128 and the ASCII
  code that would be sent by pressing just the `x' key.  Essentially, the
  Control key turns off bits 5 and 6 and the Meta key turns on bit 7.

  NOTE: C-? (aka DEL) is ASCII code 127.  It is a misnomer to call C-?  a
  "control" key, since 127 has both bits 5 and 6 turned ON.  Also, on very
  few keyboards does C-? generate ASCII code 127.

  For further information, see "Characters" and "Keys" in the on-line
  manual.  (See question 3 if you don't know how.)

2:   What does "M-x command" mean?

  "M-x command" means type M-x, then type the name of the command, then
  type RET.  (See question 1 if you're not sure what "M-x" and "RET" mean.)

  M-x (by default) invokes the command "execute-extended-command".  This
  command allows you to run any Emacs command if you can remember the
  command's name.  If you can't remember the command's name, you can type
  TAB and SPC for completion, `?' for a list of possibilities, and M-p and
  M-n to see previous commands entered.  An Emacs "command" is any
  "interactive" Emacs function.

  NOTE: Your system administrator may have bound other key sequences to
  invoke execute-extended-command.  A function key labeled `Do' is a good
  candidate for this.

  To run non-interactive Emacs functions, see question 52.

3:   How do I read topic XXX in the on-line manual?

  When we refer you to topic XXX in the on-line manual, you can read this
  manual node inside Emacs (assuming nothing is broken) by typing this:

    C-h i m emacs RET m XXX RET

  This invokes Info, the GNU hypertext documentation browser.  If you don't
  already know how to use Info, type `?' from within Info.

  If we refer to topic XXX:YYY, type this:

    C-h i m emacs RET m XXX RET m YYY RET

  WARNING: Your system administrator may not have installed the Info files,
  or may have installed them improperly.  In this case you should complain.

  See question 15 if you would like a paper copy of the Emacs manual.

4:   What do these mean: etc/SERVICE, src/config.h, lisp/default.el?

  These are files that come with Emacs.  The Emacs distribution is divided
  into subdirectories; the important ones are "etc", "lisp", and "src".

  If you use Emacs, but don't know where it is kept on your system, start
  Emacs, then type "C-h v data-directory RET".  The directory name
  displayed by this will be the full pathname of the installed "etc"

  The location of your Info directory (i.e., where on-line documentation is
  stored) is kept in the variable Info-default-directory-list.  Use "C-h v
  Info-default-directory-list RET" to see the contents of this variable,
  which will be a list of directory names.  The last directory in that list
  is probably where most Info files are stored.  By default, Info
  documentation is placed in /usr/local/info.

  Some of these files are available individually via FTP or e-mail; see
  question 20.  All are available in the source distribution.  Many of the
  files in the "etc" directory are also available via the Emacs "help"
  menu, or by typing "C-h ?" (M-x help-for-help).

  WARNING: Your system administrator may have removed the src directory and
  many files from the etc directory.

5:   What are FSF, LPF, OSF, GNU, RMS, FTP, and GPL?

  FSF == Free Software Foundation
  LPF == League for Programming Freedom
  OSF == Open Software Foundation
  GNU == GNU's Not Unix
  RMS == Richard Matthew Stallman
  FTP == File Transfer Protocol
  GPL == GNU General Public License

  NOTE: Avoid confusing the FSF, the LPF, and the OSF.  The LPF opposes
  look-and-feel copyrights and software patents.  The FSF aims to make high
  quality free software available for everyone.  The OSF is a consortium of
  computer vendors which develops commercial software for Unix systems.

  NOTE: The word "free" in the title of the Free Software Foundation refers
  to "freedom," not "zero dollars."  Anyone can charge any price for
  GPL-covered software that they want to.  However, in practice, the
  freedom enforced by the GPL leads to low prices, because you can always
  get the software for less money from someone else, because everyone has
  the right to resell or give away GPL-covered software.

General Questions

6:   What is the LPF?

  The LPF opposes the expanding danger of software patents and
  look-and-feel copyrights.  To get more information, feel free to contact
  the LPF via e-mail or otherwise.  You may also contact Joe Wells
  <>; he will be happy to talk with you about the LPF.

  You can find more information about the LPF in the file etc/LPF.  More
  papers describing the LPF's views are available on the Internet and also
  from the LPF:

7:   What is the real legal meaning of the GNU copyleft?

  The real legal meaning of the GNU General Public License (copyleft) will
  only be known if and when a judge rules on its validity and scope.  There
  has never been a copyright infringement case involving the GPL to set any
  precedents.  Please take any discussion regarding this issue to the
  newsgroup gnu.misc.discuss, which was created to hold the extensive flame
  wars on the subject.

  RMS writes:

    The legal meaning of the GNU copyleft is less important than the
    spirit, which is that Emacs is a free software project and that work
    pertaining to Emacs should also be free software.  "Free" means that
    all users have the freedom to study, share, change and improve Emacs.
    To make sure everyone has this freedom, pass along source code when you
    distribute any version of Emacs or a related program, and give the
    recipients the same freedom that you enjoyed.

8:   What are appropriate messages for, gnu.emacs.bug,
     comp.emacs, etc.?

  The file etc/MAILINGLISTS discusses the purpose of each GNU mailing-list.
  (See question 20 if you want a copy of the file.)  For those lists which
  are gatewayed with newsgroups, it lists both the newsgroup name and the
  mailing list address.

  comp.emacs is for discussion of Emacs programs in general.  This includes
  Emacs along with various other implementations, such as JOVE, MicroEmacs,
  Freemacs, MG, Unipress, CCA, and Epsilon.

  Many people post Emacs questions to comp.emacs because they don't receive
  any of the gnu.* newsgroups.  Arguments have been made both for and
  against posting GNU-Emacs-specific material to comp.emacs.  You have to
  decide for yourself.

  Messages advocating "non-free" software are considered unacceptable on
  any of the gnu.* newsgroups except for gnu.misc.discuss, which was
  created to hold the extensive flame-wars on the subject.  "Non-free"
  software includes any software for which the end user can't freely modify
  the source code and exchange enhancements.  Be careful to remove the
  gnu.* groups from the "Newsgroups:" line when posting a followup that
  recommends such software.

  gnu.emacs.bug is a place where bug reports appear, but avoid posting bug
  reports to this newsgroup (see question 10).

9:   Where can I get old postings to and other GNU groups?

  The FSF has maintained archives of all of the GNU mailing lists for many
  years, although there may be some unintentional gaps in coverage.  The
  archive is not particularly well organized or easy to retrieve individual
  postings from, but pretty much everything is there.  The latest archives
  are supposed to be available at

  although as of this writing, this ftp site is not yet working.

  Web-based Usenet search services, such as DejaNews, also archive the
  gnu.* groups.  You can reach DejaNews at

10:  Where should I report bugs and other problems with Emacs?

  The correct way to report Emacs bugs is by e-mail to  Anything sent here also appears in the
  newsgroup gnu.emacs.bug, but please use e-mail instead of news to submit
  the bug report.  This ensures a reliable return address so you can be
  contacted for further details.

  Be sure to read the "Bugs" section of the Emacs manual before reporting a
  bug to bug-gnu-emacs!  The manual describes in detail how to submit a
  useful bug report.  (See question 3 if you don't know how to read the

  RMS says:

    Sending bug reports to help-gnu-emacs (which has the effect of posting
    on is undesirable because it takes the time of an
    unnecessarily large group of people, most of whom are just users and
    have no idea how to fix these problem.  bug-gnu-emacs reaches a much
    smaller group of people who are more likely to know what to do and have
    expressed a wish to receive more messages about Emacs than the others.

  However, RMS says there are circumstances when it is okay to post to

    If you have reported a bug and you don't hear about a possible fix,
    then after a suitable delay (such as a week) it is okay to post on asking if anyone can help you.

  If you are unsure whether you have found a bug, consider the following
  non-exhaustive list, courtesy of RMS:

    If Emacs crashes, that is a bug.  If Emacs gets compilation errors
    while building, that is a bug.  If Emacs crashes while building, that
    is a bug.  If Lisp code does not do what the documentation says it
    does, that is a bug.

11:  How do I unsubscribe from this mailing list?

  If you are receiving a GNU mailing list named "XXX", you might be able to
  unsubscribe from it by sending a request to the address
  <>.  However, this will not work if you are
  not listed on the main mailing list, but instead receive the mail from a
  distribution point.  In that case, you will have to track down at which
  distribution point you are listed.  Inspecting the "Received:" headers on
  the mail messages may help, along with liberal use of the "EXPN" or
  "VRFY" sendmail commands through "telnet <site-address> smtp".  Ask your
  postmaster for help.

12:  What is the current address of the FSF?

  Telephone: +1-617-542-5942
  Fax: +1-617-542-2652
  World Wide Web:

  Postal address:
  Free Software Foundation
  59 Temple Place - Suite 330
  Boston, MA 02111-1307

  For details on how to order items directly from the FSF, see the file

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

13:  I'm just starting Emacs; how do I do basic editing?

  Type "C-h t" to invoke the self-paced tutorial.  Just typing `C-h' enters
  the help system.

  WARNING: Your system administrator may have changed `C-h' to act like DEL
  to deal with local keyboards.  You can use M-x help-for-help instead to
  invoke help.  To discover what key (if any) invokes help on your system,
  type "M-x where-is RET help-for-help RET".  This will print a
  comma-separated list of key sequences in the echo area.  Ignore the last
  character in each key sequence listed.  Each of the resulting key
  sequences invokes help.

  NOTE: Emacs help works best if it is invoked by a single key whose value
  should be stored in the variable help-char.

  There is also a WWW-based tutorial for Emacs 18, much of which is also
  relevant for Emacs 20, available at

14:  How do I find out how to do something in Emacs?

  There are several methods for finding out how to do things in Emacs.

  * The complete text of the Emacs manual is available on-line via the Info
    hypertext reader.  Type "C-h i" to invoke Info.  Typing `h' immediately
    after entering Info will provide a short tutorial on how to use it.

  * You can order a hardcopy of the manual from the FSF.  See question 15.

  * You can get a printed reference card listing commands and keys to
    invoke them.  You can order one from the FSF for $1 (or 10 for $5), or
    you can print your own from the etc/refcard.tex or etc/ files
    in the Emacs distribution.

  * You can list all of the commands whose names contain a certain word
    (actually which match a regular expression) using "C-h a" (M-x

  * You can list all of the functions and variables whose names contain a
    certain word using M-x apropos.

  * There are many other commands in Emacs for getting help and
    information.  To get a list of these commands, type `?' after `C-h'.

15:  How do I get a printed copy of the Emacs manual?

  You can order a printed copy of the Emacs manual from the FSF.  For
  details see the file etc/ORDERS.

  The full TeX source for the manual also comes in the "man" directory of
  the Emacs distribution, if you're daring enough to try to print out this
  440-page manual yourself (see question 18).

  If you absolutely have to print your own copy, and you don't have TeX,
  you can get a PostScript version from

  Note that the above document is somewhat out of date, although most major
  concepts are still relevant.  This site requests that you please *confine
  any major ftping to late evenings or early mornings, local time* (Pacific
  time zone, GMT-8).  

  A WWW version of the (somewhat outdated) Emacs 19.34 manual is at

  See also question 14 for how to view the manual on-line.

16:  Where can I get documentation on Emacs Lisp?

  Within Emacs, you can type "C-h f" to get the documentation for a
  function, "C-h v" for a variable.

  For more information, obtain the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual.  Details on
  ordering it from FSF are in file etc/ORDERS.

  The Emacs Lisp Reference Manual is also available on-line, in Info
  format.  Texinfo source for the manual (along with pregenerated Info
  files) is available at

  and all mirrors of (See question 92 for a list).  See
  question 17 if you want to install the Info files, or question 18 if you
  want to use the Texinfo source to print the manual yourself.

  WWW versions of the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual are available at

17:  How do I install a piece of Texinfo documentation?

  First, you must turn the Texinfo files into Info files.  You may do this
  using the stand-alone "makeinfo" program, available as part of the latest
  Texinfo package at

  and all mirrors of (see question 92 for a list).

  For information about the Texinfo format, read the Texinfo manual which
  comes with Emacs.  This manual also comes installed in Info format, so
  you can read it on-line.

  Neither texinfo-format-buffer nor makeinfo installs the resulting Info
  files in Emacs's Info tree.  To install Info files:

  1. Move the files to the "info" directory in the installed Emacs
     distribution.  See question 4 if you don't know where that is.

  2. Edit the file info/dir in the installed Emacs distribution, and add a
     line for the top level node in the Info package that you are
     installing.  Follow the examples already in this file.  The format is:

       * Topic: (relative-pathname).  Short description of topic.

  If you want to install Info files and you don't have the necessary
  privileges, you have several options:

  * Info files don't actually need to be installed before being used.  You
    can feed a file name to the Info-goto-node command (invoked by pressing
    `g' in Info mode) by typing the name of the file in parentheses.  This
    goes to the node named "Top" in that file.  For example, to view a Info
    file named "XXX" in your home directory, you can type this:

      C-h i g (~/XXX) RET

  * You can create your own Info directory.  You can tell Emacs where the
    Info directory is by adding its pathname to the value of the variable
    Info-default-directory-list.  For example, to use a private Info
    directory which is a subdirectory of your home directory named "Info",
    you could put this in your .emacs file:

      (setq Info-default-directory-list
            (cons "~/Info" Info-default-directory-list))

    You will need a top-level Info file named "dir" in this directory which
    has everything the system dir file has in it, except it should list
    only entries for Info files in that directory.  You might not need it
    if all files in this directory were referenced by other "dir" files.
    The node lists from all dir files in Info-default-directory-list are
    merged by the Info system.

18:  How do I print a Texinfo file?

  NOTE: You can't get nicely printed output from Info files; you must still
  have the original Texinfo source file for the manual you want to print.

  Assuming you have TeX installed on your system, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the first line of the Texinfo file looks like this:

       \input texinfo

     You may need to change "texinfo" to the full pathname of the
     texinfo.tex file, which comes with Emacs as man/texinfo.tex (or copy
     or link it into the current directory).

  2. tex XXX.texinfo

  3. texindex XXX.??

     The texindex program comes with Emacs as man/texindex.c.

  4. tex XXX.texinfo

  5. Print the DVI file XXX.dvi in the normal way for printing DVI files at
     your site.

  To get more general instructions, retrieve the latest Texinfo package
  mentioned in question 17.

19:  Can I view Info files without using Emacs?

  Yes.  Here are some alternative programs:

  * Info, a stand-alone version of the Info program, comes as part of the
    Texinfo package.  See question 17 for details.

  * Xinfo, a stand-alone version of the Info program that runs under X
    Windows.  You can get it at

    and all mirrors of (See question 92 for a list).

  * Tkinfo, an Info viewer that runs under X Windows and uses Tcl/Tk.  You
    can get Tkinfo at

20:  What informational files are available for Emacs?

  This isn't a frequently asked question, but it should be!  A variety of
  informational files about Emacs and relevant aspects of the GNU project
  are available for you to read.

  The following files are available in the "etc" directory of the Emacs
  distribution (see question 4 if you're not sure where that is).

    COPYING -- Emacs General Public License
    DISTRIB -- Emacs Availability Information, including the popular
              "Free Software Foundation Order Form"
    FAQ -- Emacs Frequently Asked Questions (You're reading it)
    FTP -- How to get GNU Software by Internet FTP or by UUCP
    GNU -- The GNU Manifesto
    INTERVIEW -- Richard Stallman discusses his public-domain
                 UNIX-compatible software system with BYTE editors
    LPF -- Why you should join the League for Programming Freedom
    MACHINES -- Status of Emacs on Various Machines and Systems
    MAILINGLISTS -- GNU Project Electronic Mailing Lists
    NEWS -- Emacs news, a history of user-visible changes
    SERVICE -- GNU Service Directory
    SUN-SUPPORT -- including "Using Emacstool with GNU Emacs"

  Latest versions of the above files also available at

  More GNU information, including back issues of the "GNU's Bulletin", are at

21:  Where can I get help in installing Emacs?

  See question 84 for some basic installation hints, and question 83 if you
  have problems with the installation.

  The file etc/SERVICE (see question 4 if you're not sure where that is)
  lists companies and individuals willing to sell you help in installing or
  using Emacs.  An up-to-date version this file is available on
  (see question 20).

22:  Where can I get the latest version of this document (the FAQ list)?

  The Emacs FAQ is available in several ways:

  * Inside of Emacs itself.  You can get it from selecting the "Emacs FAQ"
    option from the "Help" menu at the top of any Emacs frame, or by typing
    C-h F (M-x view-emacs-FAQ).

  * Via USENET.  If you can read news, the FAQ should be available in your
    news spool, in both the and comp.emacs newsgroups.
    Every news reader should allow you to read any news article that is
    still in the news spool, even if you have read the article before.  You
    may need to read the instructions for your news reader to discover how
    to do this.  In rn, this command will do this for you at the article
    selection level:

      ?GNU Emacs Frequently Asked Questions?rc:m

    In Gnus, you should type "C-u c-x c-s" from the *Summary* buffer or
    "C-u SPC" from the *Newsgroup* buffer to view all articles in a

    If the FAQ articles have expired and been deleted from your news spool,
    it might (or might not) do some good to complain to your news
    administrator, because the most recent FAQ should not expire for a

  * Via HTTP or FTP.  You can always fetch the latest FAQ at


  * In the Emacs distribution.  Since Emacs 18.56, the FAQ at the time of
    release has been part of the Emacs distribution as etc/FAQ (see
    question 4).

  * Via the World Wide Web.  A hypertext version is available at

  * Via anonymous ftp and e-mail from (and its mirror in
    Europe), the main repository for FAQs and other items posted to
    news.answers.  The Emacs FAQs are available at

    If you do not have access to anonymous FTP, you can access the archives
    using the mail server.  The Emacs FAQ can be retrieved by
    sending mail to with a blank subject and

      send usenet/news.answers/GNU-Emacs-FAQ/diffs
      send usenet/news.answers/GNU-Emacs-FAQ/part1
      send usenet/news.answers/GNU-Emacs-FAQ/part2
      send usenet/news.answers/GNU-Emacs-FAQ/part3
      send usenet/news.answers/GNU-Emacs-FAQ/part4
      send usenet/news.answers/GNU-Emacs-FAQ/part5

    For more information, send email to with
    "help" and "index" in the body on separate lines.
  * As the very last resort, you can e-mail a request to  Don't do this unless you have made a serious
    effort to obtain the FAQ list via one of the methods listed above.

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM