Emacs: Auto Save

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

emacs has auto-save-mode, however, it's not what you think.

Emacs's auto-save-mode periodically saves a copy of your file with the name #filename#, that is, with the number sign character #.

When you save the file, those #files# are deleted automatically.

In case of crash or electricity outage, when you open a file afterward, emacs will detect those #files# and ask if you want to recover.

But the problem is, even if no crash, in lots of situations (such as sync to server), you'll find those #files# annoying, because they are often symbolic links to non-existent files, and will cause tools like rsync to complain.

Turn Auto Save On/Off

;; Turn auto save off. e.g. periodically make recovery copy file named #filename#
(setq auto-save-default nil) ; t for on, nil for off

Real Automatic Save?

You can set emacs to auto save files directly, instead of creating those #filename#.

Put the following in your emacs init:

(setq auto-save-default t)
(setq auto-save-visited-file-name t)


However, this does not work well. Emacs still generates those #files#, this time, named like this:

.#xxtemp.201601134145.44920.el -> xah@xah-p6813w.21261:1452244010

If you have scripts going thru your machine, you get this error:

error: cannot open /home/john/web/.#vocabulary.html No such file or directory

(info "(elisp) Auto-Saving")

There are probably ways to fix this, with hooks or timer, but i haven't looked into. There are packages that does real auto save that does not use emacs “auto-save-mode” mechanism. There's one called “real-auto-save” Look in MELPA. (I haven't used it.)

thanks to xfq and finalpatch

thanks to http://irreal.org/blog/?p=4867, Anna Pawlicka (@AnnaPawlicka)

Liket it? Put $5 at patreon. Or Buy Xah Emacs Tutorial. Thanks.