xemacs - Emacs: The Next Generation

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xemacs - Emacs: The Next Generation

xemacs [ command-line switches ] [ files ... ]

XEmacs is a version of Emacs, compatible with and containing many
improvements over GNU Emacs, written by Richard Stallman of the Free
Software Foundation. It was originally based on an early release of
GNU Emacs Version 19, and has tracked subsequent releases of GNU Emacs
as they have become available.

The primary documentation of XEmacs is in the XEmacs Reference Manual,
which you can read on-line using Info, a subsystem of XEmacs. Please
look there for complete and up-to-date documentation. Complete docu‐
mentation on using Emacs Lisp is available on-line through the XEmacs
Lisp Programmer's Manual. Both manuals also can be printed out nicely
using the TeX formatting package.

The user functionality of XEmacs encompasses everything other Emacs
editors do, and it is easily extensible since its editing commands are
written in Lisp.

XEmacs has an extensive interactive help facility, but the facility
assumes that you know how to manipulate XEmacs windows and buffers.
CTRL-h enters the Help facility. Help Tutorial (CTRL-h t) requests an
interactive tutorial which can teach beginners the fundamentals of
XEmacs in a few minutes. Help Apropos (CTRL-h a) helps you find a com‐
mand given its functionality, Help Key Binding (CTRL-h k) describes a
given key sequence's effect, and Help Function (CTRL-h f) describes a
given Lisp function specified by name. You can also look up key
sequences in the XEmacs Reference Manual using Lookup Key Binding
(CTRL-h CTRL-k), and look up Lisp functions in the XEmacs Lisp Program‐
mer's Manual using Lookup Function (CTRL-h CTRL-f). All of these help
functions, and more, are available on the Help menu if you are using a
window system.

XEmacs has extensive GUI (graphical user interface) support when run‐
ning under a window system such as X, including multiple frames (top-
level windows), a menubar, a toolbar, horizontal and vertical scroll‐
bars, dialog boxes, and extensive mouse support.

XEmacs has full support for multiple fonts and colors, variable-width
fonts, and variable-height lines, and allows for pixmaps to be inserted
into a buffer. (This is used in the W3 web-browsing package and in some
of the debugger and outlining interfaces, among other things.)

XEmacs's Undo can undo several steps of modification to your buffers,
so it is easy to recover from editing mistakes.

XEmacs's many special packages handle mail reading (VM, MH-E and RMail)
and sending (Mail), Usenet news reading and posting (GNUS), World Wide
Web browsing (W3), specialized modes for editing source code in all
common programming languages, syntax highlighting for many languages
(Font-Lock), compiling (Compile), running subshells within XEmacs win‐
dows (Shell), outline editing (Outline), running a Lisp read-eval-print
loop (Lisp-Interaction-Mode), and automated psychotherapy (Doctor).

There is an extensive reference manual, but users of other Emacsen
should have little trouble adapting even without a copy. Users new to
Emacs will be able to use basic features fairly rapidly by studying the
tutorial and using the self-documentation features.

XEmacs Options

XEmacs accepts all standard X Toolkit command line options when run in
an X Windows environment. In addition, the following options are
accepted (when options imply a sequence of actions to perform, they are
performed in the order encountered):

-t file Use specified file as the terminal instead of using stdin/std‐
out. This implies -nw.

-batch Edit in batch mode. The editor will send messages to stdout.
You must use the -l, -f, and -eval options to specify files to
execute and functions to call.

-nw Inhibit the use of any window-system-specific display code: use
the current TTY.

Enter the debugger if an error occurs loading the init file.

Do not map the initial frame.

Do not load the site-specific init file (site-start.el).

-q, -no-init-file
Do not load an init file.

Do not process the early packages.

Load no extra files at startup. Equivalent to the combination
of -q , -no-site-file , and -no-early-packages

-u user, -user user
Load user's init file.

file Edit file.

+number Go to the line specified by number (do not insert a space
between the "+" sign and the number).

-help Print a help message and exit.

-V, -version,
Print the version number and exit.

-f function, -funcall function
Execute the lisp function function.

-l file, -load file
Load the Lisp code in the file file.

-eval form
Evaluate the Lisp form form.

-i file, -insert file
Insert file into the current buffer.

-kill Exit XEmacs (useful with -batch).

Using XEmacs with X Windows

XEmacs has been tailored to work well with the X window system. If you
run XEmacs from under X windows, it will create its own X window to
display in.

XEmacs can be started with the following standard X options:

Select the visual that XEmacs will attempt to use.
should be one of the strings "StaticColor", "TrueColor",
"GrayScale", "PseudoColor" or "DirectColor", and
should be the number of bits per pixel (example, "-visual True‐
Color24" for a 24bit TrueColor visual) See X(1) for more infor‐

Require XEmacs to create and use a private colormap for display.
This will keep XEmacs from taking colors from the default col‐
ormap and keeping them from other clients, at the cost of caus‐
ing annoying flicker when the focus changes. Use this option
only if your X server does not support 24 bit visuals.

-geometry ##x##+##+##
Specify the geometry of the initial window. The ##'s represent
a number; the four numbers are width (characters), height (char‐
acters), X offset (pixels), and Y offset (pixels), respectively.
Partial specifications of the form ##x## or +##+## are also
allowed. (The geometry specification is in the standard X for‐
mat; see X(1) for more information.)

Specifies that the initial window should initially appear iconi‐

-name name
Specifies the program name which should be used when looking up
defaults in the user's X resources.

-title title, -T title, -wn title
Specifies the title which should be assigned to the XEmacs win‐

-d displayname, -display displayname
Create the XEmacs window on the display specified by display‐
name. Must be the first option specified in the command line.

-font font, -fn font
Set the XEmacs window's font to that specified by font. You
will find the various X fonts in the /usr/lib/X11/fonts direc‐
tory. XEmacs works with either fixed- or variable-width fonts,
but will probably look better with a fixed-width font.

-scrollbar-width pixels
Specify the width of the vertical scrollbars.

-scrollbar-height pixels
Specify the height of the horizontal scrollbars.

-bw pixels, -borderwidth pixels
Set the XEmacs window's border width to the number of pixels
specified by pixels. Defaults to one pixel on each side of the

-ib pixels, -internal-border-width pixels
Specify the width between a frame's border and its text, in
pixels. Defaults to one pixel on each side of the window.

-fg color, -foreground color
Sets the color of the text.

See the file /usr/lib/X11/rgb.txt for a list of valid color

-bg color, -background color
Sets the color of the window's background.

-bd color, -bordercolor color
Sets the color of the window's border.

-mc color
Sets the color of the mouse pointer.

-cr color
Sets the color of the text cursor.

-rv, -reverse
Reverses the foreground and background colors (reverse video).
Consider explicitly setting the foreground and background col‐
ors instead of using this option.

-xrm argument
This allows you to set an arbitrary resource on the command
line. argument should be a resource specification, as might be
found in your .Xresources or .Xdefaults file.

You can also set resources, i.e. X default values, for your XEmacs
windows in your .Xresources or .Xdefaults file (see xrdb(1)). Use the
following format:




where value specifies the default value of keyword. (Some resources
need the former format; some the latter.)

You can also set resources for a particular frame by using the format


where framename is the resource name assigned to that particular frame.
(Certain packages, such as VM, give their frames unique resource names,
in this case "VM".)

XEmacs lets you set default values for the following keywords:

default.attributeFont (class Face.AttributeFont)
Sets the window's text font.

default.attributeForeground (class Face.AttributeForeground)
Sets the window's text color.

default.attributeBackground (class Face.AttributeBackground)
Sets the window's background color.

face.attributeFont (class Face.AttributeFont)
Sets the font for face, which should be the name of a face.
Common face names are

default Normal text.
bold Bold text.
italic Italicized text.
bold-italic Bold and italicized text.
modeline Modeline text.
zmacs-region Text selected with the mouse.
highlight Text highlighted when the mouse passes over.
left-margin Text in the left margin.
right-margin Text in the right margin.
isearch Text highlighted during incremental search.
info-node Text of Info menu items.
info-xref Text of Info cross references.

face.attributeForeground (class Face.AttributeForeground)
Sets the foreground color for face.

face.attributeBackground (class Face.AttributeBackground)
Sets the background color for face.

face.attributeBackgroundPixmap (class Face.AttributeBackgroundPixmap)
Sets the background pixmap (stipple) for face.

face.attributeUnderline (class Face.AttributeUnderline)
Whether face should be underlined.

reverseVideo (class ReverseVideo)
If set to on, the window will be displayed in reverse video.
Consider explicitly setting the foreground and background col‐
ors instead of using this resource.

borderWidth (class BorderWidth)
Sets the window's border width in pixels.

internalBorderWidth (class InternalBorderWidth)
Sets the window's internal border width in pixels.

borderColor (class BorderColor)
Sets the color of the window's border.

cursorColor (class Foreground)
Sets the color of the window's text cursor.

pointerColor (class Foreground)
Sets the color of the window's mouse cursor.

emacsVisual (class EmacsVisual)
Sets the default visual XEmacs will try to use (as described

privateColormap (class PrivateColormap)
If set, XEmacs will default to using a private colormap.

geometry (class Geometry)
Sets the geometry of the XEmacs window (as described above).

iconic (class Iconic)
If set to on, the XEmacs window will initially appear as an

menubar (class Menubar)
Whether the XEmacs window will have a menubar. Defaults to

initiallyUnmapped (class InitiallyUnmapped)
Whether XEmacs will leave the initial frame unmapped when it
starts up.

barCursor (class BarCursor)
Whether the cursor should be a bar instead of the traditional

title (class Title)
Sets the title of the XEmacs window.

iconName (class Title)
Sets the icon name for the XEmacs window icon.

scrollBarWidth (class ScrollBarWidth)
Sets the width of the vertical scrollbars, in pixels. A width
of 0 means no vertical scrollbars.

scrollBarHeight (class ScrollBarHeight)
Sets the height of the horizontal scrollbars, in pixels. A
height of 0 means no horizontal scrollbars.

scrollBarPlacement (class ScrollBarPlacement)
Sets the position of vertical and horizontal scrollbars.
Should be one of the strings "top-left", "bottom-left", "top-
right", or "bottom-right". The default is "bottom-right" for
the Motif and Lucid scrollbars and "bottom-left" for the Athena

topToolBarHeight (class TopToolBarHeight)
Sets the height of the top toolbar, in pixels. 0 means no top

bottomToolBarHeight (class BottomToolBarHeight)
Sets the height of the bottom toolbar, in pixels. 0 means no
bottom toolbar.

leftToolBarWidth (class LeftToolBarWidth)
Sets the width of the left toolbar, in pixels. 0 means no left

rightToolBarWidth (class RightToolBarWidth)
Sets the width of the right toolbar, in pixels. 0 means no
right toolbar.

topToolBarShadowColor (class TopToolBarShadowColor)
Sets the color of the top shadows for the toolbars. (For all
toolbars, not just the toolbar at the top of the frame.)

bottomToolBarShadowColor (class BottomToolBarShadowColor)
Sets the color of the bottom shadows for the toolbars. (For all
toolbars, not just the toolbar at the bottom of the frame.)

topToolBarShadowPixmap (class TopToolBarShadowPixmap)
Sets the pixmap of the top shadows for the toolbars. (For all
toolbars, not just the toolbar at the top of the frame.) If
set, this resource overrides the corresponding color resource.

bottomToolBarShadowPixmap (class BottomToolBarShadowPixmap)
Sets the pixmap of the bottom shadows for the toolbars. (For
all toolbars, not just the toolbar at the bottom of the frame.)
If set, this resource overrides the corresponding color

toolBarShadowThickness (class ToolBarShadowThickness)
Thickness of the shadows around the toolbars, in pixels.

visualBell (class VisualBell)
Whether XEmacs should flash the screen rather than making an
audible beep.

bellVolume (class BellVolume)
Volume of the audible beep. Range is 0 through 100.

useBackingStore (class UseBackingStore)
Whether XEmacs should set the backing-store attribute of the X
windows it creates. This increases the memory usage of the X
server but decreases the amount of X traffic necessary to
update the screen, and is useful when the connection to the X
server goes over a low-bandwidth line such as a modem connec‐

textPointer (class Cursor)
The cursor to use when the mouse is over text.

selectionPointer (class Cursor)
The cursor to use when the mouse is over a mouse-highlighted
text region.

spacePointer (class Cursor)
The cursor to use when the mouse is over a blank space in a
buffer (that is, after the end of a line or after the end-of-

modeLinePointer (class Cursor)
The cursor to use when the mouse is over a mode line.

gcPointer (class Cursor)
The cursor to display when a garbage-collection is in progress.

scrollbarPointer (class Cursor)
The cursor to use when the mouse is over the scrollbar.

pointerColor (class Foreground)
The foreground color of the mouse cursor.

pointerBackground (class Background)
The background color of the mouse cursor.

Using the Mouse

The following lists the mouse button bindings for the XEmacs window
under X11.

left Set point or make a text selection.
middle Paste text.
right Pop up a menu of options.
SHIFT-left Extend a selection.
CTRL-left Make a selection and insert it at point.
CTRL-middle Set point and move selected text there.
CTRL-SHIFT-left Make a selection, delete it, and insert it at
META-left Make a rectangular selection.

Lisp code is read at startup from the user's init file, $HOME/.emacs.

/usr/local/info - files for the Info documentation browser (a subsystem
of XEmacs) to refer to. The complete text of the XEmacs Reference Man‐
ual and the XEmacs Lisp Programmer's Manual is included in a convenient
tree structured form.

/usr/local/lib/xemacs-$VERSION/info - the Info files may be here

/usr/local/lib/xemacs-$VERSION/lisp/* - Lisp source files and compiled
files that define most editing commands. The files are contained in
subdirectories, categorized by function or individual package. Some
are preloaded; others are autoloaded from these directories when used.

/usr/local/lib/xemacs-$VERSION/etc - some files of information, pixmap
files, other data files used by certain packages, etc.

/usr/local/lib/xemacs-$VERSION/$CONFIGURATION - various programs that
are used with XEmacs.

/usr/local/lib/xemacs-$VERSION/$CONFIGURATION/DOC - contains the docu‐
mentation strings for the Lisp primitives and preloaded Lisp functions
of XEmacs. They are stored here to reduce the size of XEmacs proper.

/usr/local/lib/xemacs/site-lisp - locally-provided Lisp files.

There is a newsgroup, comp.emacs.xemacs, for reporting XEmacs bugs and
fixes and requesting help. But before reporting something as a bug,
please try to be sure that it really is a bug, not a misunderstanding
or a deliberate feature. We ask you to read the section ``Reporting
XEmacs Bugs'' near the end of the reference manual (or Info system) for
hints on how and when to report bugs. Also, include the version number
of the XEmacs you are running and the system you are running it on in
every bug report that you send in. Finally, the more you can isolate
the cause of a bug and the conditions it happens under, the more likely
it is to be fixed, so please take the time to do so.

The newsgroup is bidirectionally gatewayed to and from the mailing list
xemacs@xemacs.org. You can read the list instead of the newsgroup if
you do not have convenient Usenet news access. To request to be added
to the mailing list, send mail to xemacs-request@xemacs.org. (Do not
send mail to the list itself.)

The XEmacs maintainers read the newsgroup regularly and will attempt to
fix bugs reported in a timely fashion. However, not every message will
get a response from one of the maintainers. Note that there are many
people other than the maintainers who read the newsgroup, and will usu‐
ally be of assistance in helping with any problems encountered.

If you need more personal assistance than can be provided by the news‐
group, look in the SERVICE file (see above) for a list of people who
offer it.

For more information about XEmacs mailing lists, see the file

XEmacs is free; anyone may redistribute copies of XEmacs to anyone
under the terms stated in the XEmacs General Public License, a copy of
which accompanies each copy of XEmacs and which also appears in the
reference manual.

Copies of XEmacs may sometimes be received packaged with distributions
of Unix systems, but it is never included in the scope of any license
covering those systems. Such inclusion violates the terms on which
distribution is permitted. In fact, the primary purpose of the General
Public License is to prohibit anyone from attaching any other restric‐
tions to redistribution of XEmacs.

X(1), xlsfonts(1), xterm(1), xrdb(1), emacs(1), vi(1)

XEmacs was written by Steve Baur , Martin Buchholz
, Richard Mlynarik , Hrvoje
Niksic , Chuck Thompson , Ben
Wing , Jamie Zawinski , and many others.
It was based on an early version of GNU Emacs Version 19, written by
Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation, and has
tracked subsequent releases of GNU Emacs as they have become available.
It was originally written by Lucid, Inc. (now defunct) and was called
Lucid Emacs.

Chuck Thompson wrote the XEmacs redisplay engine, maintains the XEmacs
FTP and WWW sites, and has put out all releases of XEmacs since 19.11
(the first release called XEmacs). Ben Wing wrote the Asian-language
support, the on-line documentation (including this man page and much of
the FAQ), the external widget code, and retooled or rewrote most of the
basic, low-level XEmacs subsystems. Jamie Zawinski put out all
releases of Lucid Emacs, from the first (19.0) through the last
(19.10), and was the primary code contributor for all of these
releases. Richard Mlynarik rewrote the XEmacs Lisp-object allocation
system, improved the keymap and minibuffer code, and did the initial
synching of XEmacs with GNU Emacs Version 19.

Many others have also contributed significantly. For more detailed
information, including a long history of XEmacs from multiple view‐
points and pretty pictures and bios of the major XEmacs contributors,
see the XEmacs About Page (the About XEmacs option on the Help menu).

For more information about XEmacs, see the XEmacs About Page (mentioned
above), look in the file /usr/local/lib/xemacs-$VERSION/etc/NEWS, or
point your Web browser at


for up-to-the-minute information about XEmacs.

The XEmacs FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) can be found at the Web
site just listed. A possibly out-of-date version is also accessible
through the Info system inside of XEmacs.

The latest version of XEmacs can be downloaded using anonymous FTP from


or from a mirror site near you. Mirror sites are listed in the file
etc/FTP in the XEmacs distribution or see the Web site for an up-to-
date list of mirror sites.

4th Berkeley Distribution 2000-09-20 XEMACS(1)