Emacs builtin features


Ido let you manage buffers conveniently:

shortcut effect
C-x b quickly switch buffer
C-x C-b display all currently open buffers
C-x C-f find a file


That’s emacs file manager (dired stands for Directory Editor):

  • rename a file: R
  • copy a file: C
  • delete a file: D (press x to execute or u to unmark)
  • create a directory: M-x create-directory

a real terminal in emacs

M-x ansi-term

Once you get this, you can literally stay in emacs for most of your needs.

Tips: On window, I just couldn’t make it work correctly. If you’re force to use window or worse if you like it ‘M-x shell’ is your friend.

Browse the web with EWW

eww let you browse the web directly from emacs: ‘M-x eww’. Yes it’s not as fancy as other browsers but still it does the job to lookup for some information:

Tips: If you want to get in some fun stuff, it seems the latest version of emacs ships with a webkit based browser. To enable it, you need to compile emacs by yourself using the with-xwidgets flag.

SQL client

Emacs can be use as an sql client for your database. It supports many type of database including: mysql, postgres, oracle and many others. Example for postgres: ‘M-x sql-postgres

Record and replay a serie of keyboard inputs in batch

KBD macros is like having a keylogger recording what you are typing and being able to replay what you were doing in one shot.

Shortcut What it does
C-x ( Start recording
C-x ) Stop recording
C-x C-e Replay the last record
C-u 100 C-x C-e Replay the last recording 100 times

Macro is a great help when you need to reformat a piece of text. To give a concrete example, here is a demonstration to transform a copy and paste from a search in google to csv:

Artist mode

Artist mode is like Microsoft Paint but for drawing in ascii: ‘M-x artist-mode’. It won’t replace a proper drawing tool but if you’re too lazy to install one, then artist mode is your friend.

I already used it to draw UMLish diagrams and other things like wireframing but no it won’t replace any dedicated tool.


Emacs has builtin support for IRC with ‘M-x erc


Probably the coolest features. Emacs has full support for a lisp dialect called elisp. You can basically execute elisp code directly within emacs without needing anything else.

For example, from a buffer you can type a expression like this one: (+ 1 2) and evaluate it with ‘C-x C-e

Improbable builtin apps

  1. Wanna play tetris within emacs? ‘M-x tetrix
  2. Emacs psychotherapist? ‘M-x doctor

What next?

The next episode will be about installing plugins