Fun with Emacs

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

You probably heard that emacs can do lots of things. This page shows some.

emacs learning curve
A comic on emacs's learning curve. [Original source appears to be Steve Rowe's blog. A friend of mine put this together @ ]

Emacs Tetris

emacs tetris 49994
tetris in emacs

Alt+x tetris to start it. Use arrow keys to move the blocks.

Alt+x kill-buffer to close it.

Split Windows

wildly split emacs screen
Wildly split emacs screen. From top to bottom: calendar, Unicode, shell, hexl-mode , html-mode, dired, calculator.

You can split your window into two or more panes, vertically or horizontally.

Alt+x split-window-below
split top/bottom.
Alt+x split-window-right
split side-by-side.
Alt+x delete-other-windows
Alt+x other-window
move cursor to another pane. (or click mouse)

[see Emacs: Split Windows]

View Calendar

To run calendar in emacs, Alt+x calendar.

emacs calendar
A screenshots of emacs's calendar feature.

To close the calendar pane, type q.


To run a calculator in emacs, Alt+x calc.

emacs calculator
Calc mode in emacs.

To quit calculator, type q.

To compute “1+2”, type 1 Enter 2 +. Or, you can type the expression directly by starting with a sinle quote, like this: ' 1 + 2 Enter.

Directory Navigation and Managing Files

emacs dired

To start, Alt+x dired, then, type a dir path. To exit, press q. For a full tutorial, see: Emacs: File Manager, dired.

Pretty Colors

Alt+x list-colors-display

emacs list-colors-display 2021-07-19
emacs list-colors-display 2021-07-19

Command Line Interface (aka Shell)

Alt+x shell to start a shell interface. [see Emacs: Run Shell in Emacs]

emacs shell 2014-08-22
Shell in emacs

LISP in Emacs

Sometime you hear that emacs has the artificial intelligence language LISP built-in. That's right. Here's how you can run a short example.

emacs lisp eval 2017 01 04
eval emacs lisp code basics. [see Evaluate Emacs Lisp Code]

In emacs, open a file, any file. In the file, type (+ 1 2), then, select the whole text, then Alt+x eval-region. You will see the result “3”. CONGRADULATIONS, you've just evaluated a lisp program!

See: Emacs Lisp Basics.

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Emacs Tutorial

Emacs Init

Emacs Keys


ELisp Examples

ELisp Write Major Mode

Emacs Tutorial

Quick Start

Manage Windows



Find Replace




Rectangle Edit

Line Wrap


View Special File

Editing Brackets

Org Mode


Emacs Efficiency