emacs Getting started with emacs


Emacs is a text editor whose most prominent feature is the ability of users to programmatically customize nearly all aspects of it. This is facilitated though a special dialect of the Lisp programming language, called Emacs Lisp, created specifically for use in the Emacs editor.

There are a multitude of extensions written in Emacs Lisp that add to Emacs functionality. These extensions include editing facilities for specific programming languages (similar to what an IDE might provide), e-mail and IRC clients, Git frontends, games such as Tetris and 2048, and much more.

Many aspects of the Emacs editor can be used with no programming knowledge. Users looking to programmatically customize Emacs, however, will find certain features of the Emacs Lisp language such as the (self-)documentation system incredibly helpful and accommodating.

External references:

  1. Sacha chua's site is a very good place to find more learning resources on Emacs.

    a. For those who need a more visual appeal on the Emacs learning path

    b. For those who would like to get the key bindings easily

  2. Wikemacs is based on mediawiki, and thus has structured content, browsable categories and such. Start exploring !


VersionRelease date

Installation or Setup

Detailed instructions on getting emacs set up or installed.

Official instructions are available on the GNU Emacs website.

Debian systems

On systems with the Debian package manager (such as Debian, Ubuntu, and Mint) Emacs can be installed via the simple command:

sudo apt-get install emacs

For a bleeding-edge release one can use the following ppa:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-elisp/ppa
sudo apt-get install emacs-snapshot

Build for source

If your debian based distro does not have the version of emacs you want you can build it from scratch.

sudo apt-get build-dep emacs24 -y

cd /tmp/

wget http://alpha.gnu.org/gnu/emacs/pretest/emacs-25.0.93.tar.xz
tar -xvf emacs-25.0.93.tar.xz

cd emacs-25.0.93
sudo make install

rm -rf /tmp/emacs-25.0.93*

Redhat systems

On systems with the Redhat package manager (such as RHEL, CentOS, and Fedora Core) Emacs can be installed via the simple command:

sudo yum install emacs

Arch Linux

Emacs can be installed via the simple command:

sudo pacman -Syu emacs

Gentoo and Funtoo

On systems running Portage, Emacs can be installed via the simple command:

sudo emerge emacs

GSRC (GNU Source Release Collection)

Works on any GNU/Linux system for getting the latest version of emacs without using the system package manager (which may be out of date) or downloading the archive or binary. To install gsrc see it's documentation. Then:

cd gsrc
make -C gnu/emacs install
# add the binaries to your PATH
source ./setup.sh

Darwin systems


brew install emacs --with-cocoa # basic install
# additional flags of interest can be viewed by calling `brew info emacs`
brew linkapps emacs # to put a symlink in your Applications directory


sudo port install emacs


sudo pkgin -y install emacs-24.5

App Bundle

Precompiled app bundles for the latest stable and development versions can be downloaded at https://emacsformacosx.com.


Chocolatey package manager

Emacs can be installed with

choco install emacs

Scoop package manager

Can be installed from extras bucket

scoop bucket add extras
scoop install emacs

Official Binary Installers

(Note that official binaries do not come with some libraries - e.g., libraries for image formats)

Other Binary Installers

Interactive Emacs Tutorial

From within Emacs, type C-h t (Control-h, t) to get an excellent interactive tutorial within Emacs. The user learns basic navigation and editing by operating on the TUTORIAL text itself, as they read the tutorial. (Modifications to the tutorial are discarded when the tutorial is closed, so each time a user requests the tutorial, it's a clean default version of the tutorial.

Helpfully, the first thing in the tutorial is how to understand C-<chr> and M-<chr> references in the text. The second thing is how to page forward and backwards in the text.

Emacs Rocks Video Tutorials

Good video tutorials about Emacs can be found at emacsrocks.com.

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