parasurv@webspace ~ $

Blog: Site updates Linux Free Software Culture Health Watches collection Learning: Emacs Journal Linux Wiki Personal: Contact About me

Shorts: Microblog Linkblog Important: Read Watch Listen Other pages: Old games stuff

How to start with Emacs?

Date: 2022-01-11

I always see people on the fediverse say: "oh Emacs is so huge, and looks complicated, I am never going to learn this…"

Yeah, the problem is that you want to learn the whole thing. It's huge! It's so extensible. I understand your frustration.

I have to say for me, I started easy. I am not a programmer, and I definitely doesn't know elisp. When I was in my static site generator phase for my blog, I used markdown for writing my post. After using many editors, I needed something new and simple looking. It wasn't my first try with Emacs, but I usually failed at the tutorial part. Not this time though.

What's your interest?

You can be a programmer, writer, or just simple want your life a little bit more organized, taking notes and stuff. I think Emacs can offer something to everyone, even for the non-computer kind of people. I also admit that if you are into text stuff, you will have a better time to understand things. Using Emacs is basically living in text mode, although you can definitely use images in your documents.

You will look up somethings, how to do it, and you will learn. Or not, depending if that's what you want.

Start with vanilla Emacs!

I know many people uses Doom or whatever distribution is out there, but if you just starting out, I think the best if you start with vanilla Emacs. Most of the stuff that can help you with Emacs on the internet will use the regular shortcuts, and not whatever Doom has. Plus I think building up your config in the old fashion way is a really cool learning process.

Start with the tutorial!

Emacs has a nice tutorial system that with help in the first couple of months! Just kidding, you will learn those shortcuts in no time! It's seriously great, like having your Emacs buddy right beside you! You can always return to it with M-x help-with-tutorial (or C-h t). Don't worry about this shortcut, you will understand. ;)

As I said most of the videos and tutorials on the net will use normal shortcuts.

Don't worry about shortcuts!

Yes, I know, shortcuts are weird. Using C-x C-f to open a buffer is much more weird than going to a menu and selecting "create new file". And it looks hard for sure, at first. However with repetition, muscle memory will kick in, and you will sure mess up cut, copy and paste - outside of Emacs. This is still happening to me, because I just spend so much time in Emacs.

If you need to relax…

Just M-x tetris! Yes you can play games inside Emacs! I rarely do, but they are there and awesome.

Use videos to learn more!

When I started I hugely profitied from Mike Zamansky's videos. That guy is a god of Emacs, in my opinion. He basically covers everything, and he is an excellent teacher. Just put his videos next to your Emacs buffer and you will learn a lot! I am not a programmer, and I never felt stuck watching his videos. He made me interested in lot of small stuff, I didn't know I need.

Another good guy to learn from is Protesilaos Stavro, who made the modus themes for Emacs. But there are many others who create helpful stuff. His philosophical writings are also interesting.

If you come from Vim: welcome, we have something for you!

It's called evil mode, which is "an extensible vi layer for Emacs. It provides Vim features like Visual selection and text objects".

Org-mode: you don't have to, but you will…

It's the biggest mode in Emacs, basically that you can use for organizing your text stuff. Don't worry about how big it is, although I am sure we sometimes want to learn org-mode, like Neo learned kung-fu, right? I am pretty sure our mind would fry though.

I used org-mode to write my journal (moved to paper last year), but I write my blog post, like this one, in org-mode and with the help of a publish file, I can turn this into HTML. I recently moved my Emacs config to org-mode, so I know what is what much more easier.

I use org-capture for taking notes, and I use it now for web bookmarks as well.

Emacs is for everyone!

Emacs has something for everybody. There are people who wrote books in org-mode! I personally still amazed, what people can do in it! Find your interest and go from there. Take your time with learning!

You can install Emacs from your Linux distribution or use it on OS X and Windows, from the Emacs website.

This is post #3 of the #100DaysToOffload challenge, where we write 100 posts in a year. If you are interested in this event, check out the official website: Happy writing everybody! :)

Hosted on Neocities and created with Emacs, the world best text editor, operating system. This website doesn't track you. I don't use any javascript or other scripts. I don't store any information about the visitors. It's just pure old fashioned HTML. Some parts of the site is not up-to-date design wise. I may or may not update them in the future. I don't really support mobile stuff, but I bet if you disable the little CSS I have, you can read the site perfectly.