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(Stupid) Useful Emacs Tricks? 412

Posted by timothy
from the bonus-if-it-uses-10-fingers-at-once dept.
Count Fenring writes "Since the Vi version of this question was both interesting and popular, let's hear from the other end of the spectrum. What are your favorite tricks, macros, extensions, and techniques for any of the various Emacs? Myself, I like 'M-x dunnet' ;-)"
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(Stupid) Useful Emacs Tricks?

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  • by rallymatte (707679) * on Friday November 07, 2008 @09:58AM (#25674781)
    I've found this very useful whenever I'm put in front of emacs C-x C-c sudo apt-get -y purge emacs vi
    • by rallymatte (707679) * on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:00AM (#25674787)
      There, fixed that for me!

      I've found this very useful whenever I'm put in front of emacs
      C-x C-c
      sudo apt-get -y purge emacs
      vi
      • by pivo (11957) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:25AM (#25675045)

        Hmm.. that didn't work well for me. I tried it, but I ended up in an editor with functionality that was one step above punch cards.

  • XKCD (Score:5, Funny)

    by WK2 (1072560) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:00AM (#25674789) Homepage

    C-X M-C M-butterfly

  • Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:03AM (#25674825)

    the Vi version of this question was both interesting and popular

    Indeed. Probably because Vi is a popular and usable text editor (unlike Emacs).

  • by meta slash (633499) * on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:07AM (#25674869)
    Of all the Elisp I've written this grep is what I most miss when I use a coworker's environment.

    (defun my-grep ()
      "grep the whole directory for something defaults to term at cursor position"
      (interactive)
      (setq default (thing-at-point 'symbol))
      (setq needle (or (read-string (concat "grep for <" default "> ")) default))
      (setq needle (if (equal needle "") default needle))
      (grep (concat "egrep -s -i -n " needle " * /dev/null")))
    (global-set-key "\C-x." 'my-grep)
    (global-set-key [f8] 'next-error)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:32AM (#25675121)

      Like M-x rgrep? It's builtin now.

    • by Beezlebub33 (1220368) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:46AM (#25675295)

      Damn, and me with no mod points. Someone please mod this up. It is a good example of the neat sort of thing that you can do with emacs.

      Since I use Eclipse a lot, I don't use emacs nearly as much as I used to, but there are somethings that emacs just makes easier. One of them is performing a complicated command many times over. I copy from Eclipse, paste in emacs, do a C-x (, do what I need it to do, C-x ), and then C-u 10000 C-x e. Then, copy and paste it back into Eclipse. Saves lots and lots of time.

      Here's something I have in my .emacs:

      ;;--
      ;; This will count the number of words in a highlighted region
      ;;--

      (global-set-key "\C-x5c" 'word-count )
      (defun word-count (start end)
          (interactive "r")
          (let ((words 0) (lines 0) (chars 0))
              (save-excursion
                  (goto-char start)
                  (while ( (point) end) (forward-word 1) (setq words (1+ words))))
              (setq lines (count-lines start end) chars (- end start))
              (message "Region has %d lines; %d words; %d characters."
                                lines words chars)))

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dolda2000 (759023)
      Of all the elisp I've written, this is the one I miss the most when I don't use my own EMACS:

      (defun get-previous-buffer (numbufs blist)
      (if (not blist) (signal 'no-such-buffer ()))
      (if (not (buffer-file-name (car blist)))
      (get-previous-buffer numbufs (cdr blist))
      (if (> numbufs 0)
      (get-previous-buffer (1- numbufs) (cdr blist))
      (car blist))))

      (defun switch-to-previous-buffer (numbufs)
      "Switches to the previous file-associat
  • Lots of them (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:09AM (#25674891)

    M-x tetris
    M-x doctor
    M-x yow
    M-x phases-of-moon

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jbaltz (219494)

      M-x psychoanalyze-pinhead

    • Don't forget M-x dunnet

      Dead end
      You are at a dead end of a dirt road. The road goes to the east.
      In the distance you can see that it will eventually fork off. The
      trees here are very tall royal palms, and they are spaced equidistant
      from each other.
      There is a shovel here.
      >

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by haystor (102186)

      C-x r k ;; kill-rectangle
      C-x r y ;; yank-rectangle

      Cut and paste columns of text.

  • (Stupid) Userful Bash Tricks ???
  • Some favorites (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bjourne (1034822) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:12AM (#25674923) Homepage Journal

    (global-set-key (kbd "C-c c") 'comment-dwim)

    C-c c to either comment out a region or uncomment it depending on context. Lovely feature.

    (global-set-key "\M-g" 'goto-line)

    M-g to go to specified line in buffer. Useful for emacs 21.x users where the keybinding is not yet standard.

    (menu-bar-mode nil) (scroll-bar-mode nil) (tool-bar-mode nil)

    Gets rid of the ugly TK widgets.

    (iswitchb-mode t)

    Superboosts C-x b.

    (global-set-key "\C-z" 'undo)

    The normal binding for C-z is suspend-emacs but having it bound as undo is much more useful imo.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Just Some Guy (3352)

      (global-set-key (kbd "C-c c") 'comment-dwim)

      Note: this is already bound to M-; by default.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by patro (104336)

      If we consider external packages too:

      The QuickSilver for Emacs: anything.el [emacswiki.org]

    • Re:Some favorites (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dolda2000 (759023) <fredrik.dolda2000@com> on Friday November 07, 2008 @03:51PM (#25679805) Homepage

      (global-set-key "\C-z" 'undo)

      You mention undo only as such, but I'd like to add that the undo functionality really is one of Emacs' killer functions. See, when you undo a string of commands in Emacs, it doesn't just discard that part of the undo history as most (all?) other editors do, but it folds it backwards onto the undo stack, which is unbelievably useful.

      I often use it as a sort of short-term, local version control. I can type something, try it, undo it and type something else, try that, and then undo back to the first version if I weren't satisfied with the second. It also enables me to use undo as a sort of short-term memory extension in that I can hack around a bit, and then interrupt myself for a visit to the toilet or similar. Then, when I get back, I can check exactly what I was doing before I left by just undoing a bit, and then undo the undoings.

      I don't think I'd ever be able to use an editor that doesn't have Emacs' killer undo.

  • editing over ssh (Score:5, Informative)

    by tuffy (10202) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:14AM (#25674939) Homepage Journal
    Always handy when doing a bit of work remotely. Put:

    (require 'tramp)
    (setq tramp-default-method "scp")

    in one's .emacs file. Then open remote files with:

    /username@host:remote_path

    • Whoa. Thanks for that!

    • Compiling over ssh (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hmckee (10407) on Friday November 07, 2008 @04:02PM (#25679979)

      Plus you can compile over ssh.

      It's nice to be able to compile a local directory with M-x compile, then you can jump to errors in the offending file from the *compilation* window.

      You can also set to do remote compile from emacs by putting something similar to this in your .emacs:

      ;; remote compile support
      (setq remote-compile-host "hostname")
      (setq remote-shell-program "/usr/bin/ssh")
      (setq default-directory "/home/username/compileDir")

      No you can compile on the remote host AND bring up offending files from the compile output window with the click of a button.

  • Forget where I read this...

    EMACS: Equine Mammals are Considerably Smaller

    • EMACS: Eight Megabytes And Constant Swapping.

      GNU Emacs: Generally Not Used Except by Middle Aged Computer Scientists.

      (I resemble that remark)

      Oh, and, of course, ESC-X doctor - what use is a text editor if it can't psychoanalise you?

      • by soboroff (91667)

        The funny thing is, those jokes about Emacs being slow date back to the 80s. These days, I find that Emacs is about the fastest app to start on a modern Linux distribution.

        The rest of userland has gotten fatter and fatter, but Emacs has stayed about the same.

        Since the story asks for favorite things about Emacs, I will just add: Gnus. The best email app bar none.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Simon Brooke (45012)

          The funny thing is, those jokes about Emacs being slow date back to the 80s. These days, I find that Emacs is about the fastest app to start on a modern Linux distribution.

          The rest of userland has gotten fatter and fatter, but Emacs has stayed about the same.

          Since the story asks for favorite things about Emacs, I will just add: Gnus. The best email app bar none.

          Back in the early nineties, I had an Acorn R140 with 4Mb of core; it ran RISC iX, which was basically BSD 4.2. It could just about run X11; and it could happily run a full Emacs development session (but not under X11). Pretty soon after that I got an R280, which had 8Mb of core; and that ran Emacs under X11 really nicely...

          It's a long time since Emacs has really been slow, but the jokes have long memories.

          • by 0xABADC0DA (867955) on Friday November 07, 2008 @12:37PM (#25676747)

            It's a long time since Emacs has really been slow, but the jokes have long memories.

            Performance jokes are never garbage collected -- it would take too many cycles.
            Performance jokes are never garbage collected -- there's always a weak reference to them.

            I'll be here all week... or until tuesday if the alternate pickup schedule is in effect due to holiday or inclement weather.

  • Outlines w/ org-mode (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Khelder (34398) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:19AM (#25674979)

    I've recently discovered and almost instantly become a fan of org-mode, which is a great outlining tool (including folding, numbering, and other similar things you'd probably expect).

    It's also good for lists of things to do, schedules, deadlines, and related stuff. It uses its own really simple markup langauge (similar to trac wiki), but you can include LaTeX and HTML inline.

    It comes with exporters to HTML and LaTeX (and iCal for date stuff). You can also put tables inline, and the table editor is excellent for simple tables.

    I use it every day for my list of things to do, and use it regularly for outlining text documents, pseudocode, and meeting notes.

  • by P-Nuts (592605) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:23AM (#25675027)
    When writing scientific papers in LaTeX, there's nothing else that comes close to the power of AUCTeX with preview-latex http://www.gnu.org/software/auctex/preview-latex.html [gnu.org]. It allows you to view typeset equations inline with the rest of the document, but on moving the cursor into an equation, shows the original code. After editing, one brief command, and the new equation is typeset and displayed.
  • macros are cool (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:23AM (#25675029)

    C-x ( -- start a macro definition

    -- type some commands

    C-x ) -- end the macro

    C-x e -- execute the last macro

    For certain repetitive tasks which didn't warrent a new script I though this macro capability was awesome.

    • by armanox (826486)
      Looks awfully similar to the start of a fork bomb...
  • CTRL-X 1|2|3 to divide the editing area according to wish. I simply can't live without this functionality.

    Now if anyone makes a Firefox plugin making it possible to do the same in a web browser that would be friggin awesome.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by homer_s (799572)
      Now if anyone makes a Firefox plugin making it possible to do the same in a web browser that would be friggin awesome.

      So, you don't use Emacs to browse the web?
  • by Khelder (34398) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:24AM (#25675037)

    One of my favorite emacsisms a long time ago was ange-ftp, and the modern descendant, tramp, is one of my current faves. It lets you edit remote files over lots of protocols, including: ssh, scp, ftp, rsync, ftp, and smb.

    Most emacs stuff works transparently, like dired and archive browsing. When you edit a file and save it, it's automatically put back on the remote machine. I have had trouble with psvn, but that's about the only thing that I kinda expected to work that didn't.

    If you edit remote files and you use emacs, you want to start using this.

  • by david.emery (127135) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:26AM (#25675065)

    A couple of times the ability of Emacs to record keystrokes and then edit them has been a real power tool, particularly when I've needed to do very complex edits over a set of files.

    So I'd record edits on the first file, look at the keyboard recording (doing any substitutes if necessary), bind that to a key combination, then iterate over the list of files. Now if I were a good Emacs hacker, I could have automated the iteration step, too :-)

    • How do you see the keyboard recording?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by david.emery (127135)

        This is covered in Chapter 10 of that invaluable reference "Learning GNU Emacs" (now in its 3rd edition, I need to 'upgrade' my 1st edition so the chapter organization might have changed) (http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596006488/index.html)

        You can do M-x apropos macro to get info. There's an edit-kbd-macro command as well as a whole bunch of other useful things.

        dave

  • I replaced it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ColonelPanic (138077) <pmk&google,com> on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:27AM (#25675073)

    After 25 years of vi and Emacs, I got fed up and wrote something better. And at 6k lines of C, it's not much bigger than my .emacs file was. :-)

    Seriously, people: you don't have to live with the available options. Writing an editor is a easy job.

    And yes, I GPL'd it. Have fun.

    http://code.google.com/p/aoeui/ [google.com]

    • Re:I replaced it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MosesJones (55544) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:53AM (#25676247) Homepage

      Congratulations, beating out hot favourites Karl Rove and Dick Cheney you have just won single most arrogant statement of the year

      "I wrote something better"

      When you get several million users then call, until then you've got a pet project doing something that loads of people before you have done, and lots of people after you have done.

      and more people will still be using VI and Emacs

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dunkelfalke (91624)

        there are far more notepad users than vi and emacs users together.
        that does not mean, that notepad is a great text editor, though.

  • My fave (Score:3, Interesting)

    by scubamage (727538) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:29AM (#25675101)
    M-x hanoi - plays tower of hanoi for n number of towers
  • Modifying variables (Score:3, Informative)

    by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:31AM (#25675113) Homepage

    If you've got a file that you always want to set some specific variable to a non-default value for when editing, use something like this (taken from the end of a C file...)

    /*
      * Local Variables:
      * fill-column: 78
      * c-basic-offset: 4
      * End:
      */

  • Configure emacs auto-mode-alist to open Java archives with archive-mode, and then edit deployment descriptors contained in the archive without having to extract the archive. Bliss.

  • Mistake made (Score:3, Informative)

    by jez9999 (618189) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:37AM (#25675195) Homepage Journal

    I think this article has been incorrectly filed; please fix, editors. It's been put under "News".

  • by felipecs (535825) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:38AM (#25675211) Homepage
    Take a look to http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/EmacsNiftyTricks [emacswiki.org].
  • some of mine (Score:5, Informative)

    by flynt (248848) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:38AM (#25675213)

    1)First, ESS, Emacs speaks statistics, found at http://ess.r-project.org/ [r-project.org] . This lets you interface interactively with R, SAS, Stata, etc., all from the common Emacs interface. As a statistician, it's the one piece of software I could not do very well without!

    2) The 'ido' package, with flex matching, in my .emacs,

    (require 'ido)
    (ido-mode t)
    (setq ido-enable-flex-matching t)

    This lets you open files and switch buffers with fuzzy matching, really nice when you have lots of things open.

    See: http://www.emacsblog.org/2008/05/19/giving-ido-mode-a-second-chance/ [emacsblog.org]

    3) Make the mouse jump away when you type over it.
    (mouse-avoidance-mode 'cat-and-mouse)

    4) Open two windows side-by-side (C-x 3) one with LaTeX code, one with a pdf, then use this in your .emacs, (add-hook 'doc-view-mode-hook 'auto-revert-mode), when you compile the .tex file into PDF, the PDF automatically updates in Emacs, I used that a lot while working on my CV.

    5) The thunderbird extension that lets me compose replies in Emacs using emacsclient.

    6) org-mode http://www.org-mode.org/ [org-mode.org]

    7) preview-latex, now part of AUCTeX, this lets you see preview versions of formulae and graphics inline in your .text file, *while you edit*. Your formula is replaced by what it will look like when compiled.

    8) EmacsWiki: http://www.emacswiki.org/ [emacswiki.org]

  • Meta-/ (Score:5, Informative)

    by giblfiz (125533) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:39AM (#25675221)

    auto completes based on words that have been seen in the buffer.

  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:41AM (#25675237) Homepage

    It's often the case when you need to check the sectors on your disk for corruption, or just during hard drive testing. One of the coolest things that Emacs allows you to do is check your filesystem. For example on CentOS:

          yum -y install emacs*

    This will proceed to fill up your hard drive with tons of software until the filesystem is full.

    (I kid, I kid)

  • Emacs Lisp (Score:5, Funny)

    by tjwhaynes (114792) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:41AM (#25675241)

    Lisp is a language that CompScis see for two months at University before leaving it behind. But if you really want to learn tricks with Emacs, you should learn Emacs Lisp - I have all sorts of specials, such as "move text to marker" and modes for handling internal IBM dump formats, that would be impossible in vi.

    But if you want one quick piece of advice, here's one that should make someone smile

    M-x hippie-expand RET

    The ultimate, expand-this-thing-dammit-from-whatever-you-like completion trick.

    Cheers,
    Toby Haynes

  • by digitalderbs (718388) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:42AM (#25675249)
    I once knew a man that typed an emacs sequence, once locked in hidden, ancient papyri. Emacs conducted all of the research for his PhD, typed his dissertation, correctly formatted his bibliography (the most astounding feat of all), setup the defense with his advisory committee, presented and defended his thesis, printed, bound and submitted the dissertation.
  • align-regexp (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:44AM (#25675265) Homepage Journal

    (Pretend that '.'==' ' because Slashdot hates programmers.)

    Before:

    a.= 1
    longer.= 2
    some_variable.= None
    foo.= 'bar'

    After running M-xalign-regexp=:

    a...............= 1
    longer..........= 2
    some_variable...= None
    foo.............= 'bar'

  • There are a two general and powerful emacs tools that every user should know: keyboard macros and query-replace-regexp.

    To record a keyboard macro, hit C-x ( to start recording, type your macro, and hit C-x ) to stop. Bind F5 or another function key to call-last-kbd-macro so it's easy to run a macro many times.

    Then practice ;-) Learn to use C-a, C-e, and incremental search in your macros, so you can just hit F5 F5 F5... to perform a repetitive editing task across an entire file. You will be slow at compo

  • by awshidahak (1282256) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:46AM (#25675305)
    is M-x Viper \[esc]x eshell All the obscureness of vim combined with the bloat of emacs. Then I have lots of fun letting people borrow my computer and watch them get mad at my custom xmodmap while trying to figure out how to get to the "Start" menu because they don't know ratpoison.
  • zippy the pinhead! (Score:3, Informative)

    by sl0ppy (454532) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:50AM (#25675353)

    M-x yow

    and of course, the ever relevant:

    M-x psychoanalyze-pinhead

  • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    For GNU emacs:

    (require 'ffap)

    This means "find file at point." If the cursor is on anything that looks like a file (or URL, etc) it'll try to do the right thing for you automatically. RTFM for delicious details.

    "M-q" will reindent a paragraph nicely.
    "C-x ." will set a fill prefix, i.e., if you need to reparagraph something with the " >" prefix for mail replies

    Keyboard macros are great for mass editing files. "C-x (" to start recording, "C-x )" to stop, "C-x e" to execute.

  • Beginning of line (Score:5, Informative)

    by vslashg (209560) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:50AM (#25675361)

    My two .emacs modifications I find essential follow.

    First, turning off of obnoxious misfeatures:

    (fset 'yes-or-no-p 'y-or-n-p) ; stop forcing me to spell out "yes"
    (setq inhibit-startup-message t)
    (setq backup-directory-alist '(("." . "~/.emacs-backups"))) ; stop leaving backup~ turds scattered everywhere

    And second, stealing the beginning-of-line behavior from Dev Studio: if you invoke the command at the beginning of the line, advance to the first non-whitespace-character instead.

    (defun dev-studio-beginning-of-line (arg)
      "Moves to beginning-of-line, or from there to the first non-whitespace character.
     
    This takes a numeric prefix argument; when not 1, it behaves exactly like
    \(move-beginning-of-line arg) instead."
      (interactive "p")
      (if (and (looking-at "^") (= arg 1)) (skip-chars-forward " \t") (move-beginning-of-line arg)))
    (global-set-key "\C-a" 'dev-studio-beginning-of-line)
    (global-set-key [home] 'dev-studio-beginning-of-line)

  • by viridari (1138635) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:01AM (#25675491)

    I like emacs but I'm not ready to change over to it 100% yet.

    Is there a way to dual boot between Vista and emacs?

  • by raffe (28595) * on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:07AM (#25675563) Journal

    I asked my email-pal: "UNIX or Windoze?". He replied "UNIX". I said "Ah...me too!".

    I asked my email-pal: "Linux or AIX?". He said "Linux, of course". I said "Me too".

    I asked him: "Emacs or vi". He replied "Emacs". I said "Me too. Small world."

    I asked him: "GNU Emacs or XEmacs?", and he said "GNU Emacs". I said "oh, me too."

    I asked him "GNU Emacs 19 or GNU Emacs 20"? and he said "GNU Emacs 19". I said "oh, me too."

    I asked him, "GNU Emacs 19.29 or GNU Emacs 19.34", and he replied "GNU Emacs 19.29". I said "DIE YOU OBSOLETE NOGOOD SOCIALLY MALADJUSTED CELIBATE COMMIE FASCIST DORK!", and never emailed him again.

    From an old slashdot [slashdot.org] story

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sootman (158191)

      As the original post hints, this is an adaptation of and old Emo Phillips bit. [stanford.edu]

      I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! don't do it!"
      "Why shouldn't I?" he said.
      I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!"
      He said, "Like what?"
      I said, "Well...are you religious or atheist?"
      He said, "Religious."
      I said, "Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?"
      He said, "Christian."
      I said, "Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?"
      He said, "Protesta

  • by StressedEd (308123) <ej.grace@im p e r i al.ac.uk> on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:21AM (#25675739) Homepage
    very useful and extremely simple. Assuming [M] means "Meta-key".

    [M]/ Will attempt to complete the current word. This is done working backwards from the edit point and can look in other buffers.

    If (for example) you are editing a LaTeX document and you wish to cross reference an existing figure with label \label{f:my-figure} entering the following:

    \ref{f:[M]/ will repeatedly try to match everything starting with f: , namely all the existing figure labels.

    Likewise if referencing a citation in a BibTeX file that is open in another buffer, \cite{startofkey[M]/ works a treat!

    Incremental search is also wonderful. When correcting text from (say) a hard-copy simply do [M]S and start typing the first few words of the sentence before the edit point. Magically Emacs will take you there.

    This is also very useful for moving around in documents. Simply enter "??" or some other simple placemarker move around, then do [M]S?? and you'll fly back to where you were.

    For formatting "paragraphs" [M]Q is the way forward. Quite simply no other editor I have come across has a better understanding of the 'right' behaviour for this.

    If you have some text that looks like this (n.b. _ indicates space)

    ____Some text that is on a line that we wish to wrap around so that the new line starts aligned to the first line. Ordinarily there is no sensible way of doing this bar tab stops, however if you 'do a meta q' it will magically align this paragraph.

    Then after a [M]q (fill-paragraph) you will get

    ____Some text that is on a line that we wish to wrap around so that
    ____the new line starts aligned to the first line. Ordinarilly there
    ____is no sensible way of doing this bar tab stops, however if you 'do
    ____a meta q' it will magically align this paragraph.

    So that the paragraph is left aligned to the first line. Finally, as others have said regexp replace and various other packages (e.g. AucTeX) are unparalleled!

  • by rockmuelle (575982) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:22AM (#25675763)

    Working with rectangular regions is a breeze in emacs (very useful for quickly swapping columns in csv-type files):

    Set the mark at the upper left of the rectangle... move the cursor the lower right...

    Kill rectangle: c-x r k

    Move somewhere else...

    Yank rectangle: c-x r y

    There are some other rectangle commands, but these are probably the two most useful "unknown" emacs commands I've come across.

    -Chris

  • Whenever you download a bunch of code and want to dip your feet in it, it helps getting a good overview.

    To that end, ecb-mode can be greatly helpful. It displays navigable directory trees, a list of all symbols defined in your current file, a list of recently visited files, and a compile window. Double-click anything to jump to it, quite nice to use. The symbol list is really neat; I've thrown C, python and makefiles at it, much to my satisfaction. Haskell support is a bit rudimentary, but still very useful. It says it handles perl and TeX specially [they can't be parsed without being partially executed]. I don't know how well.

    If you just want to follow symbols around, use etags [use it anyways]. Run etags in your source root (zsh% etags **/*.[ch]), cursor-over a symbol, press M-. to jump to it.

  • by hardaker (32597) on Friday November 07, 2008 @12:36PM (#25676731) Homepage
    By far one of the best enhancement packages to come out for (X)Emacs in a long time is org-mode [orgmode.org]. It's a feature-full organization and agenda system that all operates on plain text files that are easy to read and write.
  • calc and pictures (Score:3, Interesting)

    by porpnorber (851345) on Friday November 07, 2008 @12:50PM (#25676921)
    Much goodness has been mentioned here, but not the optional emacs-calc package (does vi do calculus? I think not). Plus picture-mode, great for drawing little boxes and, surprise surprise, putting the row of backslashes down the right edge of newly macrofied code blocks (M-x picture-mode C-c ., set typing direction to vertically downwards).
  • by PPH (736903) on Friday November 07, 2008 @02:21PM (#25677989)

    What are your favorite tricks?

    Why do you say what are my favorite tricks?

The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination -- but the combination is locked up in the safe. -- Peter DeVries

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