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I understand how Emacs can remove tabs when using the untabify command (simply place a number of spaces in the place of the tabs) but what I can't understand is how does it place tabs in the place of spaces? When you use tabify how does Emacs knows where to place tabs? At first I thought that if there were 4 spaces (or a particular number) then it would change them with one tab but clearly that is not the case (as I saw using whitespace-mode). Clearly it is logical that this doesn't happen but if that is not the case then how does Emacs decides where should tabs be?

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From the description of tabify:

A group of spaces is partially replaced by tabs when this can be done without changing the column they end at.

So it seems like it's behaviour depends on tab-width variable.

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