GNU Emacs Manual. Node: Init File

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28.7: The Init File, `~/.emacs'

When Emacs is started, it normally loads a Lisp program from the file `.emacs' or `.emacs.el' in your home directory. We call this file your init file because it specifies how to initialize Emacs for you. You can use the command line switch `-q' to prevent loading your init file, and `-u' (or `--user') to specify a different user's init file (see Entering Emacs).

There can also be a default init file, which is the library named `default.el', found via the standard search path for libraries. The Emacs distribution contains no such library; your site may create one for local customizations. If this library exists, it is loaded whenever you start Emacs (except when you specify `-q'). But your init file, if any, is loaded first; if it sets inhibit-default-init non-nil, then `default' is not loaded.

Your site may also have a site startup file; this is named `site-start.el', if it exists. Emacs loads this library before it loads your init file. To inhibit loading of this library, use the option `-no-site-file'.

If you have a large amount of code in your `.emacs' file, you should rename it to `~/.emacs.el', and byte-compile it. See Byte Compilation, for more information about compiling Emacs Lisp programs.

If you are going to write actual Emacs Lisp programs that go beyond minor customization, you should read the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual. See Emacs Lisp.

  • Init Syntax Syntax of constants in Emacs Lisp.
  • Init Examples How to do some things with an init file.
  • Terminal Init Each terminal type can have an init file.
  • Find Init How Emacs finds the init file.
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