: Learning GNU Emacs, 3rd Edition Which shell? Which shell?

Normally, Emacs uses your default shell in shell mode. Under Windows that's cmd.exe (the familiar C:> prompt or a close relative).[25] But Unix has a wide variety of available shells, including the GNU Project's bash and the zed shell, zsh. Whatever shell you normally use, that's what Emacs starts when you enter shell mode.

How does Emacs know which shell to start? First, it looks at the variable shell-file-name. Then it looks for a Unix environment variable named ESHELL. Finally it looks for an environment variable named SHELL. If you want to run another particular shell (for example, the zed shell) when you're in Emacs, you can add the following command to your .emacs file:

(setq shell-file-name "/bin/zsh")

When Emacs starts an interactive shell, it runs an additional initialization file after your shell's normal startup files. The name of this file is .emacs_shell-name, where shell-name is the name of the shell you want to use in Emacs. It must be located in your home directory. For example, if you use the C shell, you can add Emacs-only startup commands by placing them in the file .emacs_csh. Let's say that when you're in Emacs, you want to change the prompt to emacs:% and you want an environment variable called WITHIN_EDITOR to be set to T. Here's the contents of your .emacs_csh file:

set prompt="emacs:%"

Within a shell buffer, Emacs also sets the environment variable EMACS to t, and sets your terminal type (the TERM variable) to emacs.

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