I have this in my .emacs:

(setq-default buffer-file-coding-system 'utf-8-unix)

When I create a file in emacs and save it, it should be buffered and saved in utf-8-unix.

When I open such a file again after some time, the regional characters I had put in the file originally - å, ä and ö - will appear as capital A with tilde plus one of three cluttercharacters which I don't know the names of, a newlinesymbol, a sort of skull-symbol, and the yen-symbol.

Obviously, what I want is the original symbols when I reopen the file.

Why is this happening, how can I change that behaviour?

What I found in the documentation is the function (set-coding-systems-priority... but I'm not sure how to use it.

Also, second in that list is utf-8 (alias mule-utf-8), and first is iso-latin-1, which I assume is the system that is overriding my åäö's with clutter. Should I just change my default coding system from utf-8-unix to utf-8, if there's any difference. ?.

I'm a bit buffeled about all those coding issues in emacs...

Thanx for any enlightenment on the topic.

1 Answer 1


With M-x list-coding-systems you can list all the available encodings, seems that utf-8-unix is not one of them.

To properly set the default encoding system, state the following in your .emacs

(prefer-coding-system 'utf-8)
(set-default-coding-systems 'utf-8)
(set-keyboard-coding-system 'utf-8)

More info in the emacs wiki on changing encodings and in Mastering Emacs.

  • utf-8-unix is a valid coding system. All coding systems can be of the form foo-unix or foo-dos or foo-mac, so list-coding-system doesn't list those variants.
    – Stefan
    Jan 9, 2018 at 15:54

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