When opening a new file whose parent directory doesn't exist yet, I either open a shell window, or an Emacs shell buffer, and then mkdir the directory in it. I find this cumbersome. Is there an easier way?

4 Answers 4


You don't need to do that, if that's your question.

C-x C-f /some/new/directory/newfile.txt

Emacs prints a message to let you know that the directory /some/new/directory/ does not yet exist: Use M-x make-directory RET RET to create the directory and its parents.

Insert text into the new buffer for new file newfile.txt.

C-x C-s to save the file.

Emacs asks you whether you want to create the missing intermediate directories (e.g., new/directory/. You hit y for "yes".

Not very cumbersome, IMO. The UI needs to ask you for confirmation, because you could easily have mistyped the name of an existing directory.

  • You can also just use M-x make-dir tab (tested from emacs -Q to be sure that works) RET RET and it will create the directory without any further prompting. Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 12:13
  • 1
    @JonathanLeech-Pepin: Yes, of course. (That's what the message says.) But if you have already opened the new file buffer, just try to save it and confirm dir creation with y.
    – Drew
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 14:31

For ido users

  • Do C-x C-f (which should call ido-find-file) and enter a non-existent path.
  • Press M-m (mnemonic for make new dir?). Hit RET.
  • Continue with typing the new file name that you want to create in that new dir. Hit RET.

When in this situation, emacs should have told you something like:

use M-x make-directory RET RET to create the directory and its parents

Is it cumbersome?

I'll say, yes it is.


If you really want to make find-file to automatically create parent directories when not already exists, you can do the following in your init file.

(defun my-find-file (orig-fun &rest args)
  (let* ((filename (car args))
         (directory (file-name-directory filename)))
    (if (not (file-directory-p directory))
        (make-directory directory t))
    (apply orig-fun args)))

(advice-add 'find-file :around 'my-find-file)

After all, Emacs was designed to be extensible and customizable.


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