Is there a way to make Emacs visit already visited file(with active buffer) via symbolic-link as a different file? I want them(links/file paths) to be visited by different buffers. It will be best if this behavior can be controlled with a directory local variable.

Why I need it:

I have a bunch of source files under actual project root source directory with a project file (it configures build tools) for production builds. But I also have those files under a different root (for development environment) The whole thing resides in the same git repo and has .dir-locals.el with:

((nil . ((find-file-visit-truename . nil)
         (vc-follow-symlinks       . nil))))

It works fine (despite obvious problems with version control). The only thing that is really inconvenient is that I sometimes visit source files via production root paths and then Emacs always opens them via the paths and it messes up with development tools/Emacs integration. So I have to kill the buffer and re-visit files under develop.

  • This is most likely an XY-problem. Maybe it would be better if you wrote what you actually want to achieve. Two buffers for one file is a sure way to loose edits if the buffers are not generally read-only. Note that you can edit both buffers independently. It may be that you need an ediff merge after a while.
    – Tobias
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 12:00
  • Note that there are methods for having two buffers for the same file: clone-buffer-indirect, jac available as library on github.
    – Tobias
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 12:17
  • @Tobias What if the second buffer (if a file already visited via different link) will be opened in a indirect-buffer?
    – JAre
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 16:11
  • @Tobias added explanation why I need it.
    – JAre
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 16:30

1 Answer 1


From File Aliases:

Normally, if you visit a file which Emacs is already visiting under a different name, Emacs displays a message in the echo area and uses the existing buffer visiting that file. This can happen on systems that support hard or symbolic links, or if you use a long file name on a system that truncates long file names, or on a case-insensitive file system. You can suppress the message by setting the variable find-file-suppress-same-file-warnings to a non-‘nil’ value. You can disable this feature entirely by setting the variable find-file-existing-other-name to ‘nil’: then if you visit the same file under two different names, you get a separate buffer for each file name.

If the variable find-file-visit-truename is non-nil, then the file name recorded for a buffer is the file's truename (made by replacing all symbolic links with their target names), rather than the name you specify. Setting find-file-visit-truename also implies the effect of find-file-existing-other-name.

For future reference: this is the first node that comes up in the Emacs Info manual when you type i symbolic

  • I added the find-file-visit-truename bit since one can stumble over it.
    – Tobias
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 11:55
  • I was hoping to convince OP to read the original, either on the web or inside emacs :-)
    – rpluim
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 11:59
  • I added find-file-existing-other-name . nil to my .dir-locals.el file and it work. Thx
    – JAre
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 22:49

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