Before you start
Learn what to expect from this tutorial, and how to get the most out of it.
The Emacs editing environment is a favorite of UNIX® developers. It's known around the world as the king of editors, but many users find it has a bit of a learning curve. The Emacs environment doesn't seem intuitive at first glance, and it doesn't work like other editors and word processors. But learning Emacs doesn't have to be difficult. Once you get going, you'll see how intuitive it is and become more comfortable with it after each use. This tutorial series shows you the way, taking you from the basics of Emacs, such as its features, philosophy, key-command layout, and methods for editing text, through many of its powerful editing features.
After completing this series, you'll be able to comfortably use Emacs for everyday editing, be well on your way to Emacs proficiency, and have a good feel for many of the advanced capabilities of Emacs.
This tutorial, the second in a series, demonstrates how to use some of the vital features for text editing and introduces the concept of modes, showing you what to use them for, how to invoke them, and which popular modes you're liable to use in your normal editing. It also describes a special mode for defining abbreviations as useful shorthand and explains how to use some of the text-editing features that work regardless of mode -- including important text manipulation commands, the search and replace facility, and the built-in spell checker.
The primary objective of this tutorial is to take users who are already familiar with the basics of the Emacs editor, such as its manner of keyboard input and the paradigm of buffers, and illustrate some of its essential but more intermediate features, including editing modes, incremental search, and other important Emacs text manipulation commands and facilities.
After completing this tutorial, you will have a firm knowledge of the editing modes of Emacs and how to utilize these various text-manipulation features in Emacs.
The only prerequisite for this tutorial is that you already have a basic understanding of Emacs, which you can gain by taking the first tutorial in this series.
Although this tutorial is written for all levels of UNIX expertise, it's helpful if you have at least a rudimentary understanding of the UNIX filesystem:
- Filesystem hierarchy
This tutorial requires a user account on any UNIX-based system that has a recent copy of Emacs installed.
There are several varieties of Emacs; the original and most popular is GNU Emacs, which is published online by the GNU Project (see Resources).
You should have a recent copy of GNU Emacs -- one that is at version 20 or greater. Versions 20 and 21 are the most commonly available, and development snapshots of version 22 are also available. This tutorial works with any of these versions for Emacs. If your system is running something older, it's time to upgrade.
To know what version of Emacs you have running, use the GNU-style
$ emacs --version GNU Emacs 18.104.22.168 Copyright (C) 2006 Free Software Foundation, Inc. GNU Emacs comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY. You may redistribute copies of Emacs under the terms of the GNU General Public License. For more information about these matters, see the file named COPYING. $