Introduction to the Unix Cluster. Node: Buffers

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5.1: Buffers, MiniBuffers, and the Screen

Emacs divides the screen into several areas: a text window which displays text and echoes what you type, a mode line which describes what is going on in that window, and an echo area or minibuffer window for special information and commands.

The text window displays the buffer, which is a copy of the file you wish to edit. When you make changes, the changes are only in effect in the buffer until to decide to save the changes. Emacs will then replace your original file with the contents of the buffer. The mode line near the bottom of the screen (just above the echo area) contains text that looks like `------Emacs: filename'. Its purpose is to indicate which buffer is being displayed, which major and minor modes are in use (to the right on the line), and whether the buffer's text has been changed.

At the bottom of the screen is the minibuffer window, which is used to display messages, error messages, and echo command arguments. When the minibuffer is in use, the terminal's cursor will move into the window. Typing RET after your command will tell Emacs to execute the command, typing CTL-g will cancel the command and exit the minibuffer.

In Emacs, there is also a menu across the top of the screen and a scroll bar along the right side of the screen. The menu contains many useful commands for editing operations like cutting and pasting, for switching buffers, exiting Emacs, and getting help. Simply click and drag down to the command you want. Clicking and dragging with the middle mouse button on the scroll bar allows you to easily peruse through text.

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