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How to Learn Emacs: A Hand-drawn One-pager for Beginners / A visual tutorial
How to learn Emacs keyboard shortcuts (a visual tutorial for newbies)

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The usual way to use a desktop is to (1) define (i.e., save) it as your final Emacs state, when you exit, and (2) restore it at the beginning of a new Emacs session. Library desktop.el provides for the possibility of having multiple saved desktops, but only one per directory. It searches your ‘desktop-path’ to find a desktop file to load.

If you use Bookmark+, then you can have any number of desktops and use them as bookmarks, jumping from one to another at any time. You create a desktop bookmark using ‘C-x r K’ (command ‘bmkp-set-desktop-bookmark’).

Ordinary desktop files are used to record the information. The bookmark itself records only the location of the desktop file. Bookmarked desktops are intended to be used only as bookmarks, not in the ordinary way (e.g. at Emacs startup), so the locations of the desktop files used are unimportant. In particular, you can have any number of (bookmark) desktop files per directory.


  • List/edit your bookmarks: ‘C-x r l’

Some keys you can use in your bookmarks list (from ‘C-x r l’):

  • Add/remove some tags to/from a bookmark: `T +’, ‘T -’
  • Mark the bookmarks that have particular tags: `T m +’. Hit ‘RET’ to enter each tag you type, then hit ‘RET’ with empty input when done.
  • Unmark all bookmarks: ‘M-DEL’ (just like in Dired)
  • Toggle marked/unmarked bookmarks: ‘t’

Reload a file in a buffer

M-x revert-buffer

It is a sleazy trick, calling find-alternate-file - that prompts you for a file name, but fills in the name of the current buffer’s filename as a default, so you can hit RET to re-read the file from disk.