Questions tagged [help]

Questions about using the built-in help system in Emacs or how to find help.

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48
votes
9answers
7k views

How can I start learning Emacs Lisp?

Background: I'm mostly a vi user and am converting to Emacs. Past the basics and now use it for writing code in C and some Python with plans to do an R conversion too. I wrote (Common) LISP for ...
36
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the difference between a function and a command?

When posting questions and answers here, people sometimes use the terms "function" and "command" interchangeably. In other cases, people only use one of the two terms to discuss specific pieces of ...
14
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there a command `describe-command', similar to command `describe-function'?

I use C-h f heavily, but this is all functions in Emacs. I'm often only interested in interactive functions, i.e. commands. Is there an equivalent for commands? Ideally I'd like ido completion too.
10
votes
2answers
316 views

Emacs manuals are missing on Debian/Ubuntu

I was expecting the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual at (C-h i m elisp). But there was no menu elisp or lisp there. C-h v and C-h f work fine for variables or functions though. C-h i 5 takes me to file ...
8
votes
4answers
173 views

How can I look up help for a key sequence that I can't type

I know that I can look up help for a key sequence using C-h k <key sequence>, but I use Emacs in the terminal, and my terminal emulator doesn't pass all key sequences through to Emacs. Sometimes ...
7
votes
3answers
642 views

If I know a keybinding/shortcut, how to get the corresponding function?

I want to use the function to switch to other window when there are only 2 windows in emacs. I know that the shortcut is C-x o, but I don't know which function that shortcut calls. How do I ...
7
votes
3answers
246 views

How can I have multiple *Help* buffers with different content?

Using C-h f and C-h v shows usefull help. Sometimes I want to compare information. So it would be useful to have more than one *Help* buffer, with different content, visible at the same time. But ...
7
votes
1answer
125 views

How to discover (standard) function names?

When programing emacs (or common) lisp, how to discover (standard) function names (using emacs and working offline)? Example: Let's say you want to shift bits of an integer, but you don't now ...
7
votes
1answer
363 views

How to describe a key sequence that starts with `C-u`?

I am trying to use C-h k to describe the function to which a key is bound. But when I use it with a key chord like C-u C-e C-x it retrieves the documentation for C-u before I can finish typing the ...
7
votes
2answers
421 views

How can I find out exactly what my modeline is telling me?

I'd like to know exactly what my modeline is telling me and how it's derived. Right now, if I'm working with a graphical terminal I can hover over each modeline entry in turn, and if I'm lucky, a ...
6
votes
2answers
268 views

How to view package Full Description (commentary section) inside Emacs

I'm looking for a way to visualize inside Emacs the Full Description of a package as shown in Elpa index page. For example the undo-tree package has a nice and comprehensive help page/description ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does GNU Emacs use ksi(ξ) as its logo?

Why does GNU Emacs use ksi(ξ) as its logo, while most Lisp dialects use lambda(λ) as their logos? not mean this one:
6
votes
1answer
1k views

How do I create a button in Emacs?

I'm trying to create *Help* buffers in Emacs, documenting functions defined in other languages. I can create a simple help buffer easily: (defun wh/help-hello-world () (interactive) (with-help-...
6
votes
1answer
48 views

How do I customize the way Emacs prints out certain keys and key sequences?

For example, I want Control key to be displayed not as C but as ⎈ (U+2388 HELM SYMBOL) in the minibuffer. Trying to personalize my Emacs and display all function keys as ISO symbols. And sequences to ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

lazy find/search for commands within emacs

Is there a way to do a lazy find/search within EMACS, for commands using their description? Something in the lines of: Say I am looking for how to add indent to org mode I suspect there is a ...
5
votes
2answers
423 views

What bindings start with H-z?

When I type H-z, emacs waits for more input, so I assume something is bound to H-z plus something else, only in this case C-h k H-z also just waits for more input. How can I find out what is bound to ...
5
votes
3answers
564 views

How to see the name of the command every time I run it by a shortcut?

Whenever one runs a function/command for which there is already a shortcut, Emacs shows briefly a message in the echo area to recall that there is a shortcut associated with that command. For example ...
5
votes
2answers
803 views

Change focus to *Help* buffer after running describe-mode

When I type C-h m for describe-mode the frame splits into two windows with the current buffer on top and the *Help* buffer below. But the focus stays in the current buffer, so I usually have to type C-...
5
votes
1answer
716 views

Are the graphical depictions in docs drawed in manual labour?

There are tons of pretty graphical depictions in the emacs(or elisp) docs such as x1: -------------- -------------- -------------- | car | cdr | | car | cdr | | car | ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What does dependency mean in the Status field of a package shown in list-packages

The command list-packages shows the list of available packages. A Status column appears with several possible values: available installed dependency built-in incompat And the packages seem to be ...
5
votes
1answer
155 views

Key binding help for magit popup-based commands

Magit implements multi-key bindings in a nonstandard way: the first key runs a command that displays a “popup”, i.e. a buffer in a special mode that displays usage instructions, and the second key is ...
5
votes
1answer
423 views

Org mode: How can I add a section-name only frame to beamer slides?

I currently have: #+options: H:2 and... * Introduction ** Some definition + list item1 + list item2 So I get Introduction section in the Outline, and a frame for Some definitionand those ...
4
votes
1answer
550 views

How to look up documentation for a minor mode?

I just decided that I should try the outline-minor-mode for showing and hiding Emacs lisp defun definitions in an Emacs Lisp file. So I typed M-x outline-minor-mode and then I would like to get an ...
4
votes
1answer
283 views

What is the correct way to pop up a window with a message, and locally bind a key in that buffer?

What would be the proper way to pop up a window (preferably in the current frame),with a message? I also want to locally (in that buffer only) the q key to a function that will kill the buffer and the ...
4
votes
2answers
57 views

Display keybindings typed in a buffer

On this video stream, the window on right displays the keybindings typed with its corresponding command bound. Is there any package that does that, or a way to achieve it?
4
votes
2answers
107 views

Understanding “It is bound to …” message in describe-function

If you ask for a function description, there is a line that starts: It is bound to <...> <...> <...> For example, for isearch it says: It is bound to <menu-bar> <search&...
4
votes
1answer
77 views

Smarter behaviour for “rename-uniquely”?

I am starting to use "rename-uniquely" for help buffers so I can see multiple function helps at the same time. However, what I get is: *Help* *Help*<2> *Help*<3> etc What I would ...
3
votes
2answers
136 views

Disabling quote conversion in docstrings

(defun foo () "`bar'") The ASCII quotes in this docstring are displayed as typographical quotes by describe-function. Is it possible to have them displayed in their original form?
3
votes
2answers
68 views

Confused by the Emacs Lisp doc : Adjusting Point After Commands

I am on the trip of reading GNU Emacs Lisp Manual, and section 20.6 has the following text: It is not easy to display a value of point in the middle of a sequence of text that has the ‘display’, ‘...
3
votes
3answers
55 views

In the help page of a function/variable, how to jump to the corresponding part in the manual?

Sometimes the doc is just confusing without proper background knowledge mentioned in the manual (Info). How to jump to the manual from the help buffer?
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Info file emacs does not exist

When I type C-h r I get error: Debugger entered--Lisp error: (error "Info file emacs does not exist") signal(error ("Info file emacs does not exist")) error("Info file %s does not exist" "...
3
votes
1answer
112 views

(delete-backward-char) needs an argument?

I have written a function to yank a selected region n times. I get a warning however because of the (delete-backward-char) although it seems to work. Does the (delete-backward-char) need an argument? ...
3
votes
1answer
457 views

Emacs hangs after describe-variable on package-archive-contents

When I try run describe-variable on package-archive-contents C-h v package-archive-contents emacs hangs. It hangs at least 5 minutes, maybe forever (I did not wait any longer). Seems like Esc : (...
3
votes
0answers
217 views

Info basics: where is package Info?

I just grabbed csv from elpa (melpa) and, of course, the install buffer had the blurb about csv. I take it that blurb is an Info file somewhere? Or is it just a section of the csv.el comments? In ...
3
votes
0answers
208 views

Emacs can not access its own manual

I just installed Emacs 25.2 on my computer, but I can not access its manual. when I press C-h r this screen opens which lacks any links related to the Emacs manual. Futhermore, the echo area displays ...
3
votes
0answers
79 views

“helm-documentation”? (search docstrings like apropos-documentation but with helm)

I just started using helm-apropos. It's great! Is there a helm equivalent for apropos-documentation or alternatively does helm-apropos have sources already available to narrow over docstrings?
2
votes
7answers
867 views

How to get the function help without typing?

I'm already used to press C-h f and type a function name to ask for help on that function. But if the function name is already under the cursor (e.g. while visiting the .emacs configuration file), is ...
2
votes
1answer
269 views

Meaning of “value is t”

When using describe-variable, often the value for a variable is listed as: Its value is t What does that mean and why specifically t?
2
votes
3answers
125 views

How can I check the implementation of a builtin function?

Is there a way to check the implementation of a builtin function (e.g. load-file) without cloning the Emacs repository?
2
votes
1answer
89 views

Retrieve all the major modes equipped with emacs

I learned that GNU Emacs Manual Most major modes fall into three major groups. The first group contains modes for normal text, either plain or with mark-up. It includes Text mode, HTML mode, ...
2
votes
2answers
115 views

How to detect the key binding for a function in elisp?

How would I go about getting the key binding for a function in elisp? I'd like to know which key is used to quit. e.g. keyboard-quit. I tried using the function used by help functionality but it's ...
2
votes
1answer
515 views

How to see the code of a built-in function [duplicate]

How can I see the code of a built-in function? I'd like to look at the code of functions such as upcase-region. I looked at the completion list that I pulled up by "find-library TAB", but the list is ...
2
votes
1answer
39 views

Why is appropos (C-h a) not finding all terms, e.g. backup doesnt find make-backup-file-name-function

When running C-h a then entering backup, it lists the following matches, but not all of them (e.g. does not find the make-backup-file-name-function)? Buffer-menu-backup-unmark M-x ... RET Move ...
2
votes
1answer
81 views

How to introspect function & macro arguments in elisp?

Is there a programmatic way to access function/macro arguments, Something like this, which returns the the arg count and true if it accepts any number of additional arguments. eg: (number-of-...
2
votes
2answers
87 views

What does it mean to type the “at” symbol in `C-c @ C-h`?

I'm using hideshow and I like it. The package is recommending me that I use the keys C-c @ C-h to hide a block instead of typing some really long command. I'm familiar with C-c and with C-h, but I can'...
2
votes
1answer
163 views

Help needed to debug (very) slow markdown-mode

I come back to emacs after an eternity without using it. I used it before but now that I'm a grown up I'd like to understand what I do and how to do stuff. I use emacs mainly for markdown edit at the ...
2
votes
2answers
68 views

Format help buffers to specific width

I'm helping a visually impaired user make viewing documentation in Emacs easier. He sets his font size such that he has about 40 columns of text in a full-screen frame with no splits (and he has ...
2
votes
1answer
257 views

Finding emacs release notes

What's the best source of emacs release notes - especially for reading prior to installing an update? I searched Google for "emacs release notes". There are some posts about specific releases (and ...
2
votes
1answer
154 views

What keys can I use to create/delete and select side windows?

I have a shell buffer that's a good candidate for a side window: I also regularly use an org buffer, that's always good to have around. https://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/draft/manual/html_node/elisp/...
2
votes
1answer
519 views

Where is the file for the Fancy Startup Screen

I'm trying to find where the contents of the *GNU Emacs* buffer, aka fancy startup screen, are located on my hard drive. When I M-x eval-expression buffer-file-name to find the file of the current ...