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This is from recentf.el in Emacs 26.3:

    (defconst recentf-save-file-coding-system
      (if (coding-system-p 'utf-8-emacs)
          'utf-8-emacs
        'emacs-mule)
      "Coding system of the file `recentf-save-file'.")

Why is it set to utf-8 rather than plain text?

Is it to support the extended character set in file paths & file names or is there something more?

Encountered this when I wanted to use sed to do a clean-up of my .recentf file. I wanted to remove many entries using a regexp and sed from the command line when Emacs is not running. sed silently does not do the right thing (no deletion of lines) and I think it's because of the encoding.

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  • Unless you find some comment about this in the file recentf.el you might need to ask Emacs developers, by sending mail to [email protected]. In any case, you likely don't want to use emacs-mule. Maybe another question is why this is a defconst, not a defvar or even a defcustom. In principle this means that the program needs (expects) it to be utf-8 or emacs-mule. defconst indicates that neither the program nor people should change the value.
    – Drew
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 18:50
  • 1
    sed can deal with utf-8 so I would suggest you post the command you use and a portion of the file that does not respond the way you expect. But since this has nothing to do with Emacs, I suggest you ask in Unix & Linux SE.
    – NickD
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 19:01

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