Some programs need to write temporary files. Here is the usual way to construct a name for such a file:
The job of
make-temp-file is to prevent two different users or
two different jobs from trying to use the exact same file name.
make-temp-fileprefix &optional dir-flag suffix
This function creates a temporary file and returns its name. Emacs creates the temporary file’s name by adding to prefix some random characters that are different in each Emacs job. The result is guaranteed to be a newly created empty file. On MS-DOS, this function can truncate the string prefix to fit into the 8+3 file-name limits. If prefix is a relative file name, it is expanded against temporary-file-directory.
(make-temp-file "foo") ⇒ "/tmp/foo232J6v"
make-temp-file returns, the file has been created and is
empty. At that point, you should write the intended contents into the
If dir-flag is non-
make-temp-file creates an
empty directory instead of an empty file. It returns the file name,
not the directory name, of that directory. See Directory Names.
If suffix is non-
make-temp-file adds it at
the end of the file name.
To prevent conflicts among different libraries running in the same
Emacs, each Lisp program that uses
make-temp-file should have its
own prefix. The number added to the end of prefix
distinguishes between the same application running in different Emacs
jobs. Additional added characters permit a large number of distinct
names even in one Emacs job.
The default directory for temporary files is controlled by the
variable temporary-file-directory. This variable gives the user
a uniform way to specify the directory for all temporary files. Some
programs use small-temporary-file-directory instead, if that is
nil. To use it, you should expand the prefix against
the proper directory before calling
This variable specifies the directory name for creating temporary files.
Its value should be a directory name (see Directory Names), but it
is good for Lisp programs to cope if the value is a directory’s file
name instead. Using the value as the second argument to
expand-file-name is a good way to achieve that.
The default value is determined in a reasonable way for your operating
system; it is based on the
environment variables, with a fall-back to a system-dependent name if
none of these variables is defined.
Even if you do not use
make-temp-file to create the temporary
file, you should still use this variable to decide which directory to
put the file in. However, if you expect the file to be small, you
should use small-temporary-file-directory first if that is
This variable specifies the directory name for creating certain temporary files, which are likely to be small.
If you want to write a temporary file which is likely to be small, you should compute the directory like this:
(make-temp-file (expand-file-name prefix (or small-temporary-file-directory temporary-file-directory)))
This function generates a string that can be used as a unique file
name. The name starts with base-name, and has several random
characters appended to it, which are different in each Emacs job. It
make-temp-file except that (i) it just constructs a
name, and does not create a file, and (ii) base-name should be
an absolute file name (on MS-DOS, this function can truncate
base-name to fit into the 8+3 file-name limits).
Warning: In most cases, you should not use this function; use
make-temp-file instead! This function is susceptible to a race
condition, between the
make-temp-name call and the creation of
the file, which in some cases may cause a security hole.