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14.9.2 Editing in Dired

Once the Dired buffer exists, you can switch freely between it and other Emacs buffers. Whenever the Dired buffer is selected, certain special commands are provided that operate on files that are listed. The Dired buffer is “read-only”, and inserting text in it is not useful, so ordinary printing characters such as d and x are used for Dired commands. Most Dired commands operate on the file described by the line that point is on. Some commands perform operations immediately; others “flag” a file to be operated on later.

Most Dired commands that operate on the current line’s file also treat a numeric argument as a repeat count, meaning to act on the files of the next few lines. A negative argument means to operate on the files of the preceding lines, and leave point on the first of those lines.

All the usual Emacs cursor motion commands are available in Dired buffers. Some special purpose commands are also provided. The keys C-n and C-p are redefined so that they try to position the cursor at the beginning of the filename on the line, rather than at the beginning of the line.

For extra convenience, SPC and n in Dired are equivalent to C-n. p is equivalent to C-p. Moving by lines is done so often in Dired that it deserves to be easy to type. DEL (move up and unflag) is often useful simply for moving up.

The g command in Dired runs revert-buffer to reinitialize the buffer from the actual disk directory and show any changes made in the directory by programs other than Dired. All deletion flags in the Dired buffer are lost when this is done.

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