Chapter 12. Customizing Emacs

It’s possible to customize Emacs in just about any way you can imagine. Almost everything you see on the screen, every command, keystroke, message, and so on, can be changed. As you may imagine, most customizations involve the Emacs startup file .emacs.

Some changes require a knowledge of Emacs LISP programming (see Chapter 13); others are simple enough without such knowledge. In this chapter, we cover a variety of useful customizations that require no programming knowledge. For now, however, you need to know this: every Emacs command corresponds to a LISP function, which has the form:

(function-name arguments

For example, if you want to move the cursor forward by a word, you type ESC f. What you are actually doing is running the LISP function:

(forward-word 1)

This chapter covers a wide variety of topics relating to customization and advanced Emacs usage. We will start with two common things that users want or need to learn about in relation to Emacs: keyboards and terminals. You will find out how to customize your keyboard commands, make special keys on your keyboard useful, and set up your terminal so that it works properly with Emacs. The remainder of the chapter discusses how you can modify and extend Emacs’ behavior through its variables and through the use of packages that add extra functionality. Comprehensive lists of useful variables and packages are contained in Appendixes C and D. For information on even more advanced customization techniques, ...

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