Visit a file (
Visit a different file instead of the one visited last
Visit a file, in another window (
change this window.
Visit a file, in another frame (
change this window or frame.
Visiting a file means copying its contents into an Emacs buffer so you can edit it. Emacs creates a new buffer for each file you visit. We say that the buffer is visiting the file that it was created to hold. Emacs constructs the buffer name from the file name by throwing away the directory and keeping just the file name. For example, a file named /usr/rms/emacs.tex is displayed in a buffer named ‘emacs.tex’. If a buffer with that name exists, a unique name is constructed by appending ‘<2>’, ‘<3>’,and so on, using the lowest number that makes a name that is not already in use.
Each window’s mode line shows the name of the buffer that is being displayed in that window, so you can always tell what buffer you are editing.
The changes you make with Emacs are made in the Emacs buffer. They do not take effect in the file that you visit, or any other permanent place, until you save the buffer. Saving the buffer means that Emacs writes the current contents of the buffer into its visited file. See Saving.
If a buffer contains changes that have not been saved, the buffer is said to be modified. This is important because it implies that some changes will be lost if the buffer is not saved. The mode line displays two stars near the left margin if the buffer is modified.
To visit a file, use the command C-x C-f (
the command with the name of the file you wish to visit, terminated by a
RET. If you are using SXEmacs under X, you can also use the
Open... command from the File menu bar item.
The file name is read using the minibuffer (see Minibuffer), with defaulting and completion in the standard manner (see File Names). While in the minibuffer, you can abort C-x C-f by typing C-g.
C-x C-f has completed successfully when text appears on the screen and a new buffer name appears in the mode line. If the specified file does not exist and could not be created or cannot be read, an error results. The error message is printed in the echo area, and includes the name of the file that Emacs was trying to visit.
If you visit a file that is already in Emacs, C-x C-f does not make another copy. It selects the existing buffer containing that file. However, before doing so, it checks that the file itself has not changed since you visited or saved it last. If the file has changed, Emacs prints a warning message. See Simultaneous Editing.
You can switch to a specific file called out in the current buffer by
calling the function
find-this-file. By providing a prefix
argument, this function calls
filename-at-point and switches to a
buffer visiting the file filename. It creates one if none already
exists. You can use this function to edit the file mentioned in the
buffer you are working in or to test if the file exists. You can do that
by using the minibuffer completion after snatching the all or part of
If the variable
find-file-use-truenames’s value is
nil, a buffer’s visited filename will always be traced back
to the real file. The filename will never be a symbolic link, and there
will never be a symbolic link anywhere in its directory path. In other
If the variable
find-file-compare-truenames value is
find-file command will check the
buffer-file-truename of all visited files when deciding whether a
given file is already in a buffer, instead of just
buffer-file-name. If you attempt to visit another file which is
a symbolic link to a file that is already in a buffer, the existing
buffer will be found instead of a newly created one. This works if any
component of the pathname (including a non-terminal component) is a
symbolic link as well, but doesn’t work with hard links (nothing does).
If you want to create a file, just visit it. Emacs prints ‘(New File)’ in the echo area, but in other respects behaves as if you had visited an existing empty file. If you make any changes and save them, the file is created.
If you visit a nonexistent file unintentionally (because you typed the
wrong file name), use the C-x C-v (
command to visit the file you wanted. C-x C-v is similar to C-x
C-f, but it kills the current buffer (after first offering to save it if
it is modified). C-x C-v is allowed even if the current buffer
is not visiting a file.
If the file you specify is actually a directory, Dired is called on
that directory (see Dired). To inhibit this, set the variable
nil; then it is an error to try to
visit a directory.
C-x 4 f (
find-file-other-window) is like C-x C-f
except that the buffer containing the specified file is selected in another
window. The window that was selected before C-x 4 f continues to
show the same buffer it was already showing. If you use this command when
only one window is being displayed, that window is split in two, with one
window showing the same buffer as before, and the other one showing the
newly requested file. See Windows.
C-x 5 C-f (
find-file-other-frame) is like C-x C-f
except that it creates a new frame in which the file is displayed.
Use the function
find-this-file-other-window to edit a file
mentioned in the buffer you are editing or to test if that file exists.
To do this, use the minibuffer completion after snatching the part or
all of the filename. By providing a prefix argument, the function calls
filename-at-point and switches you to a buffer visiting the file
filename in another window. The function creates a buffer if none
already exists. This function is similar to
There are two hook variables that allow extensions to modify the
operation of visiting files. Visiting a file that does not exist runs the
functions in the list
find-file-not-found-hooks; the value of this
variable is expected to be a list of functions which are
called one by one until one of them returns non-
nil. Any visiting
of a file, whether extant or not, expects
contain list of functions and calls them all, one by one. In both cases
the functions receive no arguments. Visiting a nonexistent file