man pages section 1: User Commands

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Updated: July 2014

emacsclient (1)


emacsclient - tells a running Emacs to visit a file


emacsclient [options] files ...


User Commands                                      EMACSCLIENT(1)

     emacsclient - tells a running Emacs to visit a file

     emacsclient [options] files ...

     This  manual page documents briefly the emacsclient command.
     Full documentation is available in the GNU Info format;  see
     below.   This  manual  page  was  originally written for the
     Debian GNU/Linux distribution, but is not specific  to  that

     emacsclient  works  in  conjunction  with the built-in Emacs

     You can either call emacsclient directly or let  other  pro-
     grams  run  it for you when necessary.  On GNU and Unix sys-
     tems many programs consult the environment  variable  EDITOR
     (sometimes also VISUAL) to obtain the command used for edit-
     ing.  Thus, setting  this  environment  variable  to  'emac-
     sclient' will allow these programs to use an already running
     Emacs for editing.  Other operating systems might have their
     own methods for defining the default editor.

     For  emacsclient  to work, you need an already running Emacs
     with a server.  Within Emacs, call  the  functions  `server-
     start'  or  `server-mode'.   (Your `.emacs' file can do this
     automatically  if  you  add   either   `(server-start)'   or
     `(server-mode 1)' to it.)

     When  you've  finished  editing  the  buffer,  type  `C-x #'
     (`server-edit').  This saves the file and  sends  a  message
     back  to  the `emacsclient' program telling it to exit.  The
     programs that use `EDITOR' wait for the "editor"  (actually,
     `emacsclient') to exit.  `C-x #' also checks for other pend-
     ing external requests to edit various files, and selects the
     next such file.

     If  you  set  the  variable `server-window' to a window or a
     frame, `C-x #' displays the server buffer in that window  or
     in that frame.

     The  programs follow the usual GNU command line syntax, with
     long options starting with two dashes (`-').

     -a, --alternate-editor=EDITOR
          if the Emacs server is not running, run  the  specified
          editor  instead.   This  can  also be specified via the
          `ALTERNATE_EDITOR' environment variable.  If the  value

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User Commands                                      EMACSCLIENT(1)

          of  EDITOR is the empty string, run `emacs --daemon' to
          start Emacs in daemon mode, and try to connect to it.

     -c, --create-frame
          create a new frame instead of trying to use the current
          Emacs frame

     -F, --frame-parameters=ALIST
          set the parameters of a newly-created frame.

     -d, --display=DISPLAY
          tell  the server to display the files on the given dis-

     -e, --eval
          do not visit files but instead evaluate  the  arguments
          as Emacs Lisp expressions.

     -f, --server-file=FILENAME
          use  TCP configuration file FILENAME for communication.
          This can also be specified via the  `EMACS_SERVER_FILE'
          environment variable.

     -n, --no-wait
          returns immediately without waiting for you to "finish"
          the buffer in Emacs.

     -nw, -t, --tty
          open a new Emacs frame on the current terminal

     -s, --socket-name=FILENAME
          use socket named FILENAME for communication.

     -V, --version
          print version information and exit

     -H, --help
          print this usage information message and exit

     Normally, the exit status is 0.  If emacsclient  shuts  down
     due to Emacs signaling an error, the exit status is 1.

     See   attributes(5)   for   descriptions  of  the  following

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User Commands                                      EMACSCLIENT(1)

     |Availability   | editor/gnu-emacs |
     |Stability      | Uncommitted      |
     The program is documented fully in Using Emacs as  a  Server
     available via the Info system.

     This   manual   page  was  written  by  Stephane  Bortzmeyer
     <>, for  the  Debian  GNU/Linux  system
     (but may be used by others).

     This manual page is in the public domain.

     This   software   was   built   from   source  available  at   The   original
     community       source       was       downloaded       from

     Further information about this software can be found on  the
     open  source  community  website at

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