If, in a function run from before-save-hook, I want to abort the saving of a file, so that the file is not saved and the user is signaled, how can I do that? Is it possible (without rebinding C-xC-s or doing defadvice around save-buffer)?

(It used to be, I think in Emacs 23, that all you had to do was (error "Bad!"), and the file save operation would be aborted. But that does no longer work; any errors in a before-save-hook are ignored.)

1 Answer 1


Try using one of the hooks write-file-functions or write-contents-functions instead. Your hook function can signal an error or just return non-nil, and in either case it will abort the save.

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    If the hook function simply returns non-nil, the buffer will be marked as saved (i.e. not modified), and cause subsequent save-buffer operations to be ignored, since the file is considered “saved”. But signaling an error works!
    – Teddy
    Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 16:45
  • Huh. For me, returning non-nil aborts the save and doesn't mark the buffer as modified (which surprised me, since I was expecting the behavior you describe). Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 21:42

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