: Learning GNU Emacs, 3rd Edition

4.1.3 More About Buffers

4.1.3 More About Buffers

How do you know how many buffers are active in Emacs and what they are? There are three ways: the buffer list (which appears in a window when you type C-x C-b), the Buffers menu (which lists active buffers and commands for navigating them), and the Buffer pop-up menu (accessed by holding down Ctrl and clicking the left mouse button, which lists buffers by mode).

Emacs creates its own specialized buffers. The names for these internal buffers generally have the format *buffer name*. *Help*, *scratch*, and *Buffer List* are just a few of the buffers that Emacs creates.

When you start Emacs, it generates two buffers:

*Messages*
*scratch*
*Messages*
is a buffer where Emacs accumulates messages from its startup and from the minibuffer. *scratch* is just what it sounds like: a temporary scratchpad where you can type. It won't be saved unless you explicitly write it to a file using C-x C-w.

Of course, typically you edit files with Emacs. These files are then copied into buffers of the same name. If you ask for help, you'll also have a *Help* buffer.

The number of buffers you can have really has no limit. Most of the time, only one or two buffers are displayed, but even if you can't see them, all the buffers you create in an Emacs session are still active. You can think of them as a stack of pages, with the one being displayed as the top page. At any time, you can turn to another page (another buffer), or you can create a new page.

Each buffer has an associated major mode that determines much about how Emacs behaves in that buffer. For example, text mode, designed for writing text, behaves differently from Lisp mode, which is designed for writing Lisp programs.

You can display multiple buffers in separate windows or frames or both. The important thing to remember is that all the buffers you create are active even if they are not currently displayed.


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