Emacs: Turn Off Backup

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

How to make emacs stop creating “backup~” files or “#autosave#” files?

Put the following in your emacs init file.

(setq make-backup-files nil) ; stop creating backup~ files
(setq auto-save-default nil) ; stop creating #autosave# files

How to stop emacs from creating .#lock file links?

emacs backup problem 2018-10-12 58cc4
emacs lock file problem 2018-10-12

emacs backup is so annoying. even when you have it off (setq auto-save-default nil) , it still creates temp # files. which crashes script that traverse dir.


(setq create-lockfiles nil)

This will completely stop emacs from creating temoporary symbolic link file named “#something”.

(disable lock file may be a problem if you have situations where a file is being edited by different people or instances of emacs.)

2018-10-12 thanks to Dale Hagglund [ https://twitter.com/DaleHagglund/status/1050786629844004865 accessed: 2018-10-12] for create-lockfiles

How to set emacs so that all backups are placed in one place?

Put the following in your emacs init:

;; backup in one place. flat, no tree structure
(setq backup-directory-alist '(("" . "~/.emacs.d/backup")))

This will create backup files flat in the given dir, and the backup file names will have “!” characters in place of the directory separator.

For example:

If you use long file names or many nested dirs, this scheme will reach file name length limit quickly. (Mac and Windows allow 255 chars for file name.)

How to set emacs so backups in one place with tree structure?

Put the following in your emacs init file:

;; make backup to a designated dir, mirroring the full path

(defun my-backup-file-name (fpath)
  "Return a new file path of a given file path.
If the new path's directories does not exist, create them."
  (let* (
        (backupRootDir "~/.emacs.d/backup/")
        (filePath (replace-regexp-in-string "[A-Za-z]:" "" fpath )) ; remove Windows driver letter in path, for example, “C:”
        (backupFilePath (replace-regexp-in-string "//" "/" (concat backupRootDir filePath "~") ))
    (make-directory (file-name-directory backupFilePath) (file-name-directory backupFilePath))

(setq make-backup-file-name-function 'my-backup-file-name)

The above will mirror tree structure to the backup dir.

For example:

(info "(elisp) Backup Files") (info "(emacs) Backup")

How to Delete Emacs Backup Files

To delete all backup files in current dir:

  1. Alt+x dired.
  2. dired-flag-backup-files~】 → mark all backup files for deletion.
  3. dired-do-flagged-deletex】 → (execute) delete files flagged for deletion.

[see Emacs: File Manager, dired]

Or, you can use the linux shell command:

# delete all file whose name end in ~. All subdir too.
find . -name "*~" -delete

You can setup a abbrev to quickly type the shell line.

[see Emacs: Abbrev Mode]

Even more efficient is to set a command that lets you pick a shell command. See: Emacs: Interactive Abbrev.

Backup on Demand

Emacs: Backup Current File

Emacs Customization

  1. Emacs init file
  2. Install Packages
  3. Install Package Manually
  4. Define Keys
  5. M-x customize
  6. What's Major Mode?
  7. What's Minor Mode?
  8. Set File to Open in a Major Mode
  9. Organize Init File
  10. Byte Compile Elisp
  11. What's Hook?
  12. Environment Variables in Emacs
  13. Set Default Window Size
  14. Font Setup
  15. Set Color Theme
  16. Turn Off Auto Backup
  17. Check OS, Version, Host Name
  18. Check Defined/Loaded

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Emacs Lisp