I'm looking for a good way to edit text within Emacs. Can someone give some good recommendations for text-editors for Emacs.

  • 1
    Thumbs up! gnu emacs – manandearth Mar 24 '19 at 21:19
  • 4
    I'm closing this question because it's a week early. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 24 '19 at 22:45
  • @Gilles I’m confused. How could this be off-topic? One of the examples of an on-topic question, given in emacs.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic , is “How to make Emacs behave like X?” This question is essentially “how do I make Emacs behave like a text editor.” I mean, this person probably doesn’t know much about Emacs, but that’s what Q&A sites are for. – Tina Russell Mar 26 '19 at 4:11
  • @TinaRussell Questions closed with a custom comment are always marked as “off-topic”. This post is about Emacs, but it isn't really a question: there's nothing to answer there. “Can someone recommend” is not a suitable question for Stack Exchange and “how do I make Emacs behave like a text editor?” is not a useful question because it doesn't have useful answers. I mean, if you take this seriously, the answer is “nothing”. That's not useful. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 26 '19 at 23:17

Great question. Perhaps some of these standard facilities will prove agreeable to you:

  • edt.el --- enhanced EDT keypad mode emulation for GNU Emacs

    edt-emulation-on starts emulating DEC's EDT editor. Do edt-emulation-off to return Emacs to normal.

  • tpu-edt.el --- Emacs emulating TPU emulating EDT

  • vi-mode or vip-mode or viper-mode starts emulating vi.

    • vi.el --- major mode for emulating "vi" editor under GNU Emacs
    • vip.el --- a VI Package for GNU Emacs
    • viper.el --- A full-featured Vi emulator for Emacs and XEmacs
  • crisp.el --- CRiSP/Brief Emacs emulator

    crisp-mode enables an emulation for the CRiSP editor.

  • ws-mode.el --- WordStar emulation mode for GNU Emacs

No longer available by default:

  • set-gosmacs-bindings emulates Gosling Emacs.

    This command changes many global bindings to resemble those of Gosling Emacs. The previous bindings are saved and can be restored using set-gnu-bindings.

  • You neglected to mention the most famous editor emulation package of all... evil-mode for Vim keybindings! – Sam Mar 28 '19 at 2:39
  • There are likely to be other third-party emulators as well. This answer only covers built-in options, though. – phils Mar 28 '19 at 3:15

How about Emacs....

More seriously, Take the tour


Emacs is a text editor, underneath all those layers of extra functionality 😆 Just use Ctrl+X then Ctrl+F to open a file (or create a new one), or use “Find New File…” or “Open File…” from the “File” menu up top. To save, use Ctrl+X Ctrl+S. For more, I highly recommend Xah Lee’s Emacs tutorials—they have all the tips you need to get you started. Have fun!


Emacs is a text editor and it is fairly customizable. Perhaps the most used customization is cua-mode, so you get the C-c as copy, C-v as paste, C-x as cut, key actions widely shared among other editors. (Also, very ergonomic!)

Put this in your ~/.emacs file:

    (cua-mode t)
    (setq cua-auto-tabify-rectangles nil) ;; Don't tabify after rectangle commands
    (transient-mark-mode 1) ;; No region when it is not highlighted
    (setq cua-keep-region-after-copy t) ;; Standard Windows behaviour

and restart emacs. You question is so general, I'm guessing that is 90% of what you want, although I could be wrong.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.