Emacs Advanced Tips

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Search Text, Find Replace Text

How to search text?

  1. Alt+x isearch-forwardCtrl+s】, then type your text. Emacs will search as you type.
  2. To find the next occurrence, press 【Ctrl+s】 again.
  3. To go to previous occurrence, press 【Ctrl+r】. (emacs will first move to begging of current occurrence)
  4. To stop, press Enter ↵ to leave the cursor there.
  5. press【Ctrl+g】 to return to the spot before search was started.

[see Emacs: Search / Highlight Words]

[see Emacs: Search Text in Files]

How to find/replace?

Alt+x query-replaceAlt+%】. Emacs will prompt you for the find string and replace string.

Once emacs found a match, press

To undo, cancel search then 【Ctrl+/】.

Find Replace menus in emacs
emacs menu for find replace commands

For regex replace and detail on letter cases, see: Emacs: Find and Replace Commands.

How to find replace for all files in a dir?

Emacs: Find Replace Text in Directory

Editing Related Questions

How to insert/delete comment?

  1. Select a block of text. (Alt+x set-mark-commandCtrl+Space】 to mark, then move cursor.)
  2. Alt+x comment-dwimAlt+;】 to make the region into a comment or uncomment.

How to add a prefix to every line? (such as # or //)

  1. Move to the beginning of first line you want.
  2. Press 【Ctrl+Space】 (set-mark-command) to mark cursor position.
  3. Move cursor to the beginning of the last line.
  4. Then Alt+x string-rectangleCtrl+x r t
  5. Then type what you want to insert, then Enter ↵.

The command string-rectangle can be used to insert a vertical column of string across mulitple lines at any column position, not just at the beginning of lines.

[see Emacs: Edit Column Text, Rectangle Commands]

How to delete the first few n chars of every line?

Mark 【Ctrl+Space】 the beginning of first line and move cursor to the last line, and move it to the right n chars. Then call kill-rectangleCtrl+x r k】.

Alt+x kill-rectangle can be used to delete any rectangular block of text, not just at the beginning of lines.

How to replace unprintable characters such as tab or newline characters in Emacs?

Alt+x query-replaceAlt+%】. When you need to insert a tab character, type 【Ctrl+q】 first, then press Tab. Same for inserting a line return.

[see Emacs: Newline Representation ^M ^J ^L]

How to change file line endings between Windows/Unix/Mac?

Alt+x set-buffer-file-coding-system, then give a value of “mac”, “dos”, “unix”. Then, save.

How to record a sequence of keystrokes?

Emacs: Keyboard Macro

How to move thru camelCaseWords?

You can set emacs so that word moving commands will move cursor into between CamelCaseWords.

Alt+x global-subword-mode. Subword mode is available since Emacs 23.2 (). [see Emacs 23.2 Features (released 2010-05)]

To set it permanently, put this in your emacs init file:

(global-subword-mode 1) ; 1 for on, 0 for off

How to have spell-checker turned on?

Alt+x flyspell-mode or flyspell-buffer.

To have it always on, put the following in your emacs init file:

(defun my-turn-spell-checking-on ()
  "Turn flyspell-mode on."
  (flyspell-mode 1)

(add-hook 'text-mode-hook 'my-turn-spell-checking-on)

Emacs Customization

How to Set Emacs's User Interface

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