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I am editing a lot of text files in emacs and the automatic saving of previous versions is creating a massive amount of extraneous files. For example, if I edit a file called numbers.txt and save, then there will be a number.txt file as well as a number.txt~ file. I do not need to keep previous versions. Is there something I can add to my .emacs to prevent the saving of previous file versions?

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From (info "(emacs) Backup"):

For most files, the variable ‘make-backup-files’ determines whether to make backup files. On most operating systems, its default value is ‘t’, so that Emacs does write backup files.

So turn it off with:

(setq make-backup-files nil)

in your init file.

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