I am running emacs on Windows. I've been using the right alt key as my meta key for just about everything and it works except for M-< and M->

When I attempt M-< I get a message in the mini-buffer that says "Marker stack is empty"

M-> seems to initiate a prompt of some kind for a tags related command "Visit tags table (default TAGS):" and I then have to C-g out of that.

I feel like I'm missing something really simple but I haven't turned up anything on here or google based on the results I'm getting.


  • 1
    I don't know the actual issue but those are the commands normally bound to M-, and M-.... are you pressing shift?
    – Jules
    May 20, 2016 at 17:47
  • Oh my god....I'm an idiot. sigh May 20, 2016 at 17:50
  • 2
    In a situation like this you can use C-h k (describe-key) to find out what key sequence Emacs sees when you type something, and what function that key sequence invokes.
    – glucas
    May 20, 2016 at 18:11
  • Thanks for the tip. I've started using emacs fairly recently and I like it a lot. I feel like I'm finally becoming productive with it and this was the only thing that is really useful that I just couldn't figure out why it wasn't working. Duh..... May 20, 2016 at 18:55

1 Answer 1


Sounds like either something has bound those keys to some other commands, or else emacs is actually seeing something other the M-< and M-> when you press the keys on your keyboard. To find out which, try C-h k (ie, `describe-key'), then press the combination you think is M-<.

On an emacs that's working normally, you'd see:

M-< runs the command beginning-of-buffer, which is an interactive compiled Lisp function in `simple.el'.

I suspect you'll see either:

  • emacs thinks you've typed something other than M-<. In which case, look for other things in the OS or other plugins that might be trying to handle hotkeys or do other clever things between the keyboard and emacs
  • M-< is simply bound to a different function for you. In which case take a look at your emacs configuration to hunt down what is re-assigning those keys.

Either way you should have a good hint as to what the problem is.

  • I marked this as correct because it summed up the info that I would have used to determine the problem; had I not realized I was not pressing shift this entire time..... It's been a long week. Thanks! May 20, 2016 at 19:44

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