This page gives an overview of Emacs jargon. See CategoryGlossary for more.

Here is a translation to/from Emacs-speak:

Common TermEmacs Term
workspace or documentbuffer
shortcutkey sequence
syntax highlightingfont-lock

In Emacs terms:

Note: Menu items and mouse actions are also referred to as key sequences. If you are prompted for a key sequence, you can usually point to a menu item or perform a mouse action (e.g. click ‘mouse-1’) instead of using keyboard keys.

Emacs-Speak Exercise

If you can follow this exercise, then you understand Emacs-speak. If you understand all of the actions described, then you pretty much understand how to use Emacs. Good luck :D !

  1. I saved buffer foobar to its file using key sequence ‘C-x C-s’, which is bound to command ‘save-buffer’.
  2. Having forgotten the key binding and the complete name for command ‘split-window-horizontally’, I used key sequence ‘M-x’ (by pressing the Alt key while typing x). Then I typed s p l i t - w i n. My input appeared in the minibuffer: split-win.
  3. I hit the ‘TAB’ key, and the minibuffer input was partially completed to split-window, meaning that there is a command whose name begins with “split-window”.
  4. I hit the ‘TAB’ key again, and a minibuffer message next to my echoed input said “[Complete, but not unique]”, telling me that “split-window” is the complete name of a command, but also that there are other commands whose names begin with “split-window”.
  5. I hit the ‘TAB’ key again. This opened a new window in the same frame, displaying the ‘*Completions*’ buffer, which showed several command names beginning with “split-window”. I clicked the command name split-window-horizontally, using ‘mouse-2’.
  6. The ‘*Completions*’ buffer (and its window) disappeared, and the frame was divided into two windows, side by side – they each displayed buffer ‘foobar’. This was the result of executing command ‘split-window-horizontally’ in the window of buffer ‘foobar’.
  7. Next, I split the left window, using command ‘split-window-vertically’ – or, rather, I used its key binding, which is key sequence ‘C-x 2’ (which I happened to remember). At this point, the frame had three windows, each containing buffer ‘foobar’: I could see the name “foobar” in the mode line of each window.
  8. I clicked ‘mouse-1’ in the top left window, to put the cursor – and the focus of attention – there. Then I visited file ‘toto’ there, by using key sequence ‘C-x C-f’ (which is bound to command ‘find-file’). I could tell by the name in the window’s mode line that its buffer was now ‘toto’. I dragged the mode line using ‘mouse-1’, to resize buffer ‘toto’s window in its frame.
  9. In buffer ‘toto’, I dragged ‘mouse-1’ over some text, to select that text as the active region. I used key sequence ‘C-w’ to kill the region’s text.
  10. I clicked ‘mouse-1’ in buffer ‘foobar’. This moved the cursor to where the pointer was when I clicked. I then yanked the text that I had killed from buffer ‘toto’ to point (cursor position) in buffer ‘foobar’.

Exercise: Say the example backwards, in common (non-Emacs) terms, in Norwegian.

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