A Word About Modes

Emacs achieves some of its famed versatility by having various editing modes in which it behaves slightly differently. The word mode may sound technical or complicated, but what it really means is that Emacs becomes sensitive to the task at hand. When you’re writing, you often want features like word wrap so that you don’t have to press RETURN at the end of every line. When you’re programming, the code must be formatted correctly depending on the language. For writing, there’s text mode; for programming, there are modes for different languages, including C mode. Modes, then, allow Emacs to be the kind of editor you want for different tasks.

Text mode and C mode are major modes. A buffer can be in only one major mode at a time; to exit a major mode, you have to enter another one. Table 1-1 lists some of the major modes, what they do, and where they’re covered in this book.

Table 2-1. Major Modes



Fundamental mode

The default mode; no special behavior

Text mode

For writing text (Chapter 2)

Mail mode

For writing mail messages (Chapter 6)

RMAIL mode

For reading and organizing mail (Chapter 6)

View mode

For viewing files but not editing (Chapter 5)

Shell mode

For running a UNIX shell within Emacs (Chapter 5)

Ange-ftp mode

For downloading or viewing files on remote systems (Chapter 7)

Telnet mode

For logging in to remote systems (Chapter 7)

Outline mode

For writing outlines (Chapter 8)

Indented text mode

For indenting text automatically ...

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