I have seen a lot of times that Emacs perform auto-save and I have some questions regarding it:

  1. What are the reasons for that?
  2. Where can I find the saved file?
  3. What are the advantages of having it activated?
  4. How can I deactivate it?
  • 1
    A couple of quick suggestions. First, have a look at the EmacsWiki and the manual to see if they answer some of your questions. Second, please consider editing or removing your third bullet ("is it useful?"), which will generate responses that are more opinion-based than are desirable for this site.
    – Dan
    Dec 11, 2014 at 13:18
  • @Dan thank you for your suggestions. I will look at it! Would it be better to say what are the advantaged in having it activated?
    – Adam
    Dec 11, 2014 at 13:20
  • @Adam: one advantage is that it becomes harder to lose the contents of a file that is not under version control. You can configure Emacs to save backup files in a separate, fixed directory to prevent clutter.
    – user2005
    Dec 11, 2014 at 13:33

1 Answer 1


You should read the appropriate section of the Emacs Manual, but here is a quick overview:

Auto-save is a safeguard to prevent you from losing changes that have not yet been saved, should Emacs crash or be killed in some way. As with everything in Emacs, the behavior is configurable.

Emacs will automatically save a copy of the buffer after:

  • a certain number of edits, see auto-save-interval
  • a certain amount of idle time, see auto-save-timeout

When you visit a file, Emacs checks to see if there as an auto-save file that is newer than the file itself. If so, it offers to recover the auto-saved changes. See commands recover-file and recover-this-file.

By default auto-save files are written in the same place as the original file, with the name wrapped in # characters. See auto-save-file-name-transforms to change this.

To disable auto-save altogether, see auto-save-default.

Note that auto-save files are usually cleaned up automatically: when you successfully save a set of changes Emacs will delete the no-longer needed auto-save file. See delete-auto-save-files.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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