So buffer-string gets the content of the current buffer. But it doesn't allow specifying other buffers.

How can I get around that? Do I need something like save-window-excursion to make it work?

  • If you don't mind me asking, what are you trying to do? Commented Oct 5, 2014 at 20:44
  • @King I'm creating an asynchronous process and I want to send buffer's content as it's standard input. I figured I can use process-send-string and I got stuck. Commented Oct 5, 2014 at 20:46

1 Answer 1


A lot of things in Emacs operate on the current buffer. You need to change the current buffer and restore it when you're done. Use with-current-buffer for simple cases where you just need to do something in another buffer, and save-current-buffer for more complex cases where you need to navigate between several buffers.

(defun buffer-string* (buffer)
  (with-current-buffer buffer

If you want the text content of the buffer without properties, call buffer-substring-no-properties.

buffer-string returns only the narrowed part of the buffer. If you need the whole content, widen it after saving the narrowing.

(defun buffer-whole-string (buffer)
  (with-current-buffer buffer
      (buffer-substring-no-properties (point-min) (point-max)))))

If you also need to save the point, call save-excursion as well. Note that save-excursion restores the point only in the current buffer, so if you need to switch to another buffer and move around there, call save-excursion inside save-current-buffer or with-current-buffer.

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