04 Mar 2014

I’ve been using Vim for the past year, because, and I’ve finally configured everything to my liking, so naturally I’m switching to Emacs. This is how I did it.

First, Get Emacs

# Redhat / Fedora
$ sudo yum install emacs

# Debian / Ubuntu
$ sudo apt-get install emacs

# Mac / OSX
$ brew install --cocoa --srgb emacs

Mac users, don’t have brew? It’s wonderful!

Second, Prelude

Prelude is the move-in-ready extension of Emacs. It comes with tons of stuff you’d want in a coding environment, and makes learning Emacs much easier.

Third, C-g and M-x

C-g is Ctrl+g.

C-g is Emacs’ cancel, so if you’re stuck in some fourth dimension of Emacs with no way out, start spamming C-g and you’ll eventually return to normality.

M-x is Alt+x.

If there is anything you want to do in Emacs, like delete a character, but don’t know the key mapping, press M-x, then start typing that something. Suggestions for Emacs commands will appear as you type and can be executed by pressing Enter. After the command executes Emacs will tell you what the key combo for that command is.

Fourth, Evil

As I said before I’ve been using Vim for about a year and I’ve come to appreciate the home row navigation. Evil lets you move around Emacs like Vim; hjkl works like Vim, / works like Vim, Esc works mostly like Vim, etc.

I’m not sure yet if I’m going to adopt all of Emacs, navigation included, but if you’re learning Emacs without a Vim bias I strongly suggest using Emacs as is. Prelude even disables the arrow keys to encourage new Emacs users to use Emacs as is.


My Emacs friend sent me this fun blog post describing the levels of Emacs proficiency. I’d say I’m at level 2, but man, I’m excited to discover all the other cool things Emacs can do for me.