The principal purpose of coding systems is for use in reading and
writing files. The function
insert-file-contents uses a coding
system to decode the file data, and
write-region uses one to
encode the buffer contents.
You can specify the coding system to use either explicitly
(see Specifying Coding Systems), or implicitly using a default
mechanism (see Default Coding Systems). But these methods may not
completely specify what to do. For example, they may choose a coding
system such as
undefined which leaves the character code
conversion to be determined from the data. In these cases, the I/O
operation finishes the job of choosing a coding system. Very often
you will want to find out afterwards which coding system was chosen.
This buffer-local variable records the coding system used for saving the
buffer and for writing part of the buffer with
the text to be written cannot be safely encoded using the coding system
specified by this variable, these operations select an alternative
encoding by calling the function
(see User-Chosen Coding Systems). If selecting a different encoding
requires to ask the user to specify a coding system,
buffer-file-coding-system is updated to the newly selected coding
buffer-file-coding-system does not affect sending text to a subprocess.
This variable specifies the coding system for saving the buffer (by
overriding buffer-file-coding-system). Note that it is not used
When a command to save the buffer starts out to use
buffer-file-coding-system (or save-buffer-coding-system),
and that coding system cannot handle
the actual text in the buffer, the command asks the user to choose
another coding system (by calling
After that happens, the command also updates
buffer-file-coding-system to represent the coding system that
the user specified.
I/O operations for files and subprocesses set this variable to the coding system name that was used. The explicit encoding and decoding functions (see Explicit Encoding) set it too.
Warning: Since receiving subprocess output sets this variable, it can change whenever Emacs waits; therefore, you should copy the value shortly after the function call that stores the value you are interested in.
The variable selection-coding-system specifies how to encode selections for the window system. See Window System Selections.
The variable file-name-coding-system specifies the coding
system to use for encoding file names. Emacs encodes file names using
that coding system for all file operations. If
nil, Emacs uses a default
coding system determined by the selected language environment. In the
default language environment, any non-ASCII characters in
file names are not encoded specially; they appear in the file system
using the internal Emacs representation.
Warning: if you change file-name-coding-system (or the language environment) in the middle of an Emacs session, problems can result if you have already visited files whose names were encoded using the earlier coding system and are handled differently under the new coding system. If you try to save one of these buffers under the visited file name, saving may use the wrong file name, or it may get an error. If such a problem happens, use C-x C-w to specify a new file name for that buffer.
On Windows 2000 and later, Emacs by default uses Unicode APIs to
pass file names to the OS, so the value of
file-name-coding-system is largely ignored. Lisp applications
that need to encode or decode file names on the Lisp level should use
utf-8 coding-system when system-type is
windows-nt; the conversion of UTF-8 encoded file names to the
encoding appropriate for communicating with the OS is performed
internally by Emacs.