files.texi   [plain text]

@c -*-texinfo-*-
@c This is part of the GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual.
@c Copyright (C) 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001,
@c   2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  Free Software Foundation, Inc.
@c See the file elisp.texi for copying conditions.
@setfilename ../info/files
@node Files, Backups and Auto-Saving, Documentation, Top
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@chapter Files

  In Emacs, you can find, create, view, save, and otherwise work with
files and file directories.  This chapter describes most of the
file-related functions of Emacs Lisp, but a few others are described in
@ref{Buffers}, and those related to backups and auto-saving are
described in @ref{Backups and Auto-Saving}.

  Many of the file functions take one or more arguments that are file
names.  A file name is actually a string.  Most of these functions
expand file name arguments by calling @code{expand-file-name}, so that
@file{~} is handled correctly, as are relative file names (including
@samp{../}).  These functions don't recognize environment variable
substitutions such as @samp{$HOME}.  @xref{File Name Expansion}.

  When file I/O functions signal Lisp errors, they usually use the
condition @code{file-error} (@pxref{Handling Errors}).  The error
message is in most cases obtained from the operating system, according
to locale @code{system-message-locale}, and decoded using coding system
@code{locale-coding-system} (@pxref{Locales}).

* Visiting Files::           Reading files into Emacs buffers for editing.
* Saving Buffers::           Writing changed buffers back into files.
* Reading from Files::       Reading files into buffers without visiting.
* Writing to Files::         Writing new files from parts of buffers.
* File Locks::               Locking and unlocking files, to prevent
                               simultaneous editing by two people.
* Information about Files::  Testing existence, accessibility, size of files.
* Changing Files::           Renaming files, changing protection, etc.
* File Names::               Decomposing and expanding file names.
* Contents of Directories::  Getting a list of the files in a directory.
* Create/Delete Dirs::	     Creating and Deleting Directories.
* Magic File Names::	     Defining "magic" special handling
			       for certain file names.
* Format Conversion::        Conversion to and from various file formats.
@end menu

@node Visiting Files
@section Visiting Files
@cindex finding files
@cindex visiting files

  Visiting a file means reading a file into a buffer.  Once this is
done, we say that the buffer is @dfn{visiting} that file, and call the
file ``the visited file'' of the buffer.

  A file and a buffer are two different things.  A file is information
recorded permanently in the computer (unless you delete it).  A buffer,
on the other hand, is information inside of Emacs that will vanish at
the end of the editing session (or when you kill the buffer).  Usually,
a buffer contains information that you have copied from a file; then we
say the buffer is visiting that file.  The copy in the buffer is what
you modify with editing commands.  Such changes to the buffer do not
change the file; therefore, to make the changes permanent, you must
@dfn{save} the buffer, which means copying the altered buffer contents
back into the file.

  In spite of the distinction between files and buffers, people often
refer to a file when they mean a buffer and vice-versa.  Indeed, we say,
``I am editing a file,'' rather than, ``I am editing a buffer that I
will soon save as a file of the same name.''  Humans do not usually need
to make the distinction explicit.  When dealing with a computer program,
however, it is good to keep the distinction in mind.

* Visiting Functions::         The usual interface functions for visiting.
* Subroutines of Visiting::    Lower-level subroutines that they use.
@end menu

@node Visiting Functions
@subsection Functions for Visiting Files

  This section describes the functions normally used to visit files.
For historical reasons, these functions have names starting with
@samp{find-} rather than @samp{visit-}.  @xref{Buffer File Name}, for
functions and variables that access the visited file name of a buffer or
that find an existing buffer by its visited file name.

  In a Lisp program, if you want to look at the contents of a file but
not alter it, the fastest way is to use @code{insert-file-contents} in a
temporary buffer.  Visiting the file is not necessary and takes longer.
@xref{Reading from Files}.

@deffn Command find-file filename &optional wildcards
This command selects a buffer visiting the file @var{filename},
using an existing buffer if there is one, and otherwise creating a
new buffer and reading the file into it.  It also returns that buffer.

Aside from some technical details, the body of the @code{find-file}
function is basically equivalent to:

(switch-to-buffer (find-file-noselect filename nil nil wildcards))
@end smallexample

(See @code{switch-to-buffer} in @ref{Displaying Buffers}.)

If @var{wildcards} is non-@code{nil}, which is always true in an
interactive call, then @code{find-file} expands wildcard characters in
@var{filename} and visits all the matching files.

When @code{find-file} is called interactively, it prompts for
@var{filename} in the minibuffer.
@end deffn

@defun find-file-noselect filename &optional nowarn rawfile wildcards
This function is the guts of all the file-visiting functions.  It
returns a buffer visiting the file @var{filename}.  You may make the
buffer current or display it in a window if you wish, but this
function does not do so.

The function returns an existing buffer if there is one; otherwise it
creates a new buffer and reads the file into it.  When
@code{find-file-noselect} uses an existing buffer, it first verifies
that the file has not changed since it was last visited or saved in
that buffer.  If the file has changed, this function asks the user
whether to reread the changed file.  If the user says @samp{yes}, any
edits previously made in the buffer are lost.

Reading the file involves decoding the file's contents (@pxref{Coding
Systems}), including end-of-line conversion, and format conversion
(@pxref{Format Conversion}).  If @var{wildcards} is non-@code{nil},
then @code{find-file-noselect} expands wildcard characters in
@var{filename} and visits all the matching files.

This function displays warning or advisory messages in various peculiar
cases, unless the optional argument @var{nowarn} is non-@code{nil}.  For
example, if it needs to create a buffer, and there is no file named
@var{filename}, it displays the message @samp{(New file)} in the echo
area, and leaves the buffer empty.

The @code{find-file-noselect} function normally calls
@code{after-find-file} after reading the file (@pxref{Subroutines of
Visiting}).  That function sets the buffer major mode, parses local
variables, warns the user if there exists an auto-save file more recent
than the file just visited, and finishes by running the functions in

If the optional argument @var{rawfile} is non-@code{nil}, then
@code{after-find-file} is not called, and the
@code{find-file-not-found-functions} are not run in case of failure.
What's more, a non-@code{nil} @var{rawfile} value suppresses coding
system conversion and format conversion.

The @code{find-file-noselect} function usually returns the buffer that
is visiting the file @var{filename}.  But, if wildcards are actually
used and expanded, it returns a list of buffers that are visiting the
various files.

(find-file-noselect "/etc/fstab")
     @result{} #<buffer fstab>
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@deffn Command find-file-other-window filename &optional wildcards
This command selects a buffer visiting the file @var{filename}, but
does so in a window other than the selected window.  It may use another
existing window or split a window; see @ref{Displaying Buffers}.

When this command is called interactively, it prompts for
@end deffn

@deffn Command find-file-read-only filename &optional wildcards
This command selects a buffer visiting the file @var{filename}, like
@code{find-file}, but it marks the buffer as read-only.  @xref{Read Only
Buffers}, for related functions and variables.

When this command is called interactively, it prompts for
@end deffn

@deffn Command view-file filename
This command visits @var{filename} using View mode, returning to the
previous buffer when you exit View mode.  View mode is a minor mode that
provides commands to skim rapidly through the file, but does not let you
modify the text.  Entering View mode runs the normal hook
@code{view-mode-hook}.  @xref{Hooks}.

When @code{view-file} is called interactively, it prompts for
@end deffn

@defopt find-file-wildcards
If this variable is non-@code{nil}, then the various @code{find-file}
commands check for wildcard characters and visit all the files that
match them (when invoked interactively or when their @var{wildcards}
argument is non-@code{nil}).  If this option is @code{nil}, then
the @code{find-file} commands ignore their @var{wildcards} argument
and never treat wildcard characters specially.
@end defopt

@defvar find-file-hook
The value of this variable is a list of functions to be called after a
file is visited.  The file's local-variables specification (if any) will
have been processed before the hooks are run.  The buffer visiting the
file is current when the hook functions are run.

This variable is a normal hook.  @xref{Hooks}.
@end defvar

@defvar find-file-not-found-functions
The value of this variable is a list of functions to be called when
@code{find-file} or @code{find-file-noselect} is passed a nonexistent
file name.  @code{find-file-noselect} calls these functions as soon as
it detects a nonexistent file.  It calls them in the order of the list,
until one of them returns non-@code{nil}.  @code{buffer-file-name} is
already set up.

This is not a normal hook because the values of the functions are
used, and in many cases only some of the functions are called.
@end defvar

@node Subroutines of Visiting
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@subsection Subroutines of Visiting

  The @code{find-file-noselect} function uses two important subroutines
which are sometimes useful in user Lisp code: @code{create-file-buffer}
and @code{after-find-file}.  This section explains how to use them.

@defun create-file-buffer filename
This function creates a suitably named buffer for visiting
@var{filename}, and returns it.  It uses @var{filename} (sans directory)
as the name if that name is free; otherwise, it appends a string such as
@samp{<2>} to get an unused name.  See also @ref{Creating Buffers}.

@strong{Please note:} @code{create-file-buffer} does @emph{not}
associate the new buffer with a file and does not select the buffer.
It also does not use the default major mode.

(create-file-buffer "foo")
     @result{} #<buffer foo>
@end group
(create-file-buffer "foo")
     @result{} #<buffer foo<2>>
@end group
(create-file-buffer "foo")
     @result{} #<buffer foo<3>>
@end group
@end example

This function is used by @code{find-file-noselect}.
It uses @code{generate-new-buffer} (@pxref{Creating Buffers}).
@end defun

@defun after-find-file &optional error warn noauto after-find-file-from-revert-buffer nomodes
This function sets the buffer major mode, and parses local variables
(@pxref{Auto Major Mode}).  It is called by @code{find-file-noselect}
and by the default revert function (@pxref{Reverting}).

@cindex new file message
@cindex file open error
If reading the file got an error because the file does not exist, but
its directory does exist, the caller should pass a non-@code{nil} value
for @var{error}.  In that case, @code{after-find-file} issues a warning:
@samp{(New file)}.  For more serious errors, the caller should usually not
call @code{after-find-file}.

If @var{warn} is non-@code{nil}, then this function issues a warning
if an auto-save file exists and is more recent than the visited file.

If @var{noauto} is non-@code{nil}, that says not to enable or disable
Auto-Save mode.  The mode remains enabled if it was enabled before.

If @var{after-find-file-from-revert-buffer} is non-@code{nil}, that
means this call was from @code{revert-buffer}.  This has no direct
effect, but some mode functions and hook functions check the value
of this variable.

If @var{nomodes} is non-@code{nil}, that means don't alter the buffer's
major mode, don't process local variables specifications in the file,
and don't run @code{find-file-hook}.  This feature is used by
@code{revert-buffer} in some cases.

The last thing @code{after-find-file} does is call all the functions
in the list @code{find-file-hook}.
@end defun

@node Saving Buffers
@section Saving Buffers
@cindex saving buffers

  When you edit a file in Emacs, you are actually working on a buffer
that is visiting that file---that is, the contents of the file are
copied into the buffer and the copy is what you edit.  Changes to the
buffer do not change the file until you @dfn{save} the buffer, which
means copying the contents of the buffer into the file.

@deffn Command save-buffer &optional backup-option
This function saves the contents of the current buffer in its visited
file if the buffer has been modified since it was last visited or saved.
Otherwise it does nothing.

@code{save-buffer} is responsible for making backup files.  Normally,
@var{backup-option} is @code{nil}, and @code{save-buffer} makes a backup
file only if this is the first save since visiting the file.  Other
values for @var{backup-option} request the making of backup files in
other circumstances:

@itemize @bullet
With an argument of 4 or 64, reflecting 1 or 3 @kbd{C-u}'s, the
@code{save-buffer} function marks this version of the file to be
backed up when the buffer is next saved.

With an argument of 16 or 64, reflecting 2 or 3 @kbd{C-u}'s, the
@code{save-buffer} function unconditionally backs up the previous
version of the file before saving it.

With an argument of 0, unconditionally do @emph{not} make any backup file.
@end itemize
@end deffn

@deffn Command save-some-buffers &optional save-silently-p pred
@anchor{Definition of save-some-buffers}
This command saves some modified file-visiting buffers.  Normally it
asks the user about each buffer.  But if @var{save-silently-p} is
non-@code{nil}, it saves all the file-visiting buffers without querying
the user.

The optional @var{pred} argument controls which buffers to ask about
(or to save silently if @var{save-silently-p} is non-@code{nil}).
If it is @code{nil}, that means to ask only about file-visiting buffers.
If it is @code{t}, that means also offer to save certain other non-file
buffers---those that have a non-@code{nil} buffer-local value of
@code{buffer-offer-save} (@pxref{Killing Buffers}).  A user who says
@samp{yes} to saving a non-file buffer is asked to specify the file
name to use.  The @code{save-buffers-kill-emacs} function passes the
value @code{t} for @var{pred}.

If @var{pred} is neither @code{t} nor @code{nil}, then it should be
a function of no arguments.  It will be called in each buffer to decide
whether to offer to save that buffer.  If it returns a non-@code{nil}
value in a certain buffer, that means do offer to save that buffer.
@end deffn

@deffn Command write-file filename &optional confirm
@anchor{Definition of write-file}
This function writes the current buffer into file @var{filename}, makes
the buffer visit that file, and marks it not modified.  Then it renames
the buffer based on @var{filename}, appending a string like @samp{<2>}
if necessary to make a unique buffer name.  It does most of this work by
calling @code{set-visited-file-name} (@pxref{Buffer File Name}) and

If @var{confirm} is non-@code{nil}, that means to ask for confirmation
before overwriting an existing file.  Interactively, confirmation is
required, unless the user supplies a prefix argument.

If @var{filename} is an existing directory, or a symbolic link to one,
@code{write-file} uses the name of the visited file, in directory
@var{filename}.  If the buffer is not visiting a file, it uses the
buffer name instead.
@end deffn

  Saving a buffer runs several hooks.  It also performs format
conversion (@pxref{Format Conversion}), and may save text properties in
``annotations'' (@pxref{Saving Properties}).

@defvar write-file-functions
The value of this variable is a list of functions to be called before
writing out a buffer to its visited file.  If one of them returns
non-@code{nil}, the file is considered already written and the rest of
the functions are not called, nor is the usual code for writing the file

If a function in @code{write-file-functions} returns non-@code{nil}, it
is responsible for making a backup file (if that is appropriate).
To do so, execute the following code:

(or buffer-backed-up (backup-buffer))
@end example

You might wish to save the file modes value returned by
@code{backup-buffer} and use that (if non-@code{nil}) to set the mode
bits of the file that you write.  This is what @code{save-buffer}
normally does. @xref{Making Backups,, Making Backup Files}.

The hook functions in @code{write-file-functions} are also responsible
for encoding the data (if desired): they must choose a suitable coding
system and end-of-line conversion (@pxref{Lisp and Coding Systems}),
perform the encoding (@pxref{Explicit Encoding}), and set
@code{last-coding-system-used} to the coding system that was used
(@pxref{Encoding and I/O}).

If you set this hook locally in a buffer, it is assumed to be
associated with the file or the way the contents of the buffer were
obtained.  Thus the variable is marked as a permanent local, so that
changing the major mode does not alter a buffer-local value.  On the
other hand, calling @code{set-visited-file-name} will reset it.
If this is not what you want, you might like to use
@code{write-contents-functions} instead.

Even though this is not a normal hook, you can use @code{add-hook} and
@code{remove-hook} to manipulate the list.  @xref{Hooks}.
@end defvar

@c Emacs 19 feature
@defvar write-contents-functions
This works just like @code{write-file-functions}, but it is intended
for hooks that pertain to the buffer's contents, not to the particular
visited file or its location.  Such hooks are usually set up by major
modes, as buffer-local bindings for this variable.  This variable
automatically becomes buffer-local whenever it is set; switching to a
new major mode always resets this variable, but calling
@code{set-visited-file-name} does not.

If any of the functions in this hook returns non-@code{nil}, the file
is considered already written and the rest are not called and neither
are the functions in @code{write-file-functions}.
@end defvar

@defopt before-save-hook
This normal hook runs before a buffer is saved in its visited file,
regardless of whether that is done normally or by one of the hooks
described above.  For instance, the @file{copyright.el} program uses
this hook to make sure the file you are saving has the current year in
its copyright notice.
@end defopt

@c Emacs 19 feature
@defopt after-save-hook
This normal hook runs after a buffer has been saved in its visited file.
One use of this hook is in Fast Lock mode; it uses this hook to save the
highlighting information in a cache file.
@end defopt

@defopt file-precious-flag
If this variable is non-@code{nil}, then @code{save-buffer} protects
against I/O errors while saving by writing the new file to a temporary
name instead of the name it is supposed to have, and then renaming it to
the intended name after it is clear there are no errors.  This procedure
prevents problems such as a lack of disk space from resulting in an
invalid file.

As a side effect, backups are necessarily made by copying.  @xref{Rename
or Copy}.  Yet, at the same time, saving a precious file always breaks
all hard links between the file you save and other file names.

Some modes give this variable a non-@code{nil} buffer-local value
in particular buffers.
@end defopt

@defopt require-final-newline
This variable determines whether files may be written out that do
@emph{not} end with a newline.  If the value of the variable is
@code{t}, then @code{save-buffer} silently adds a newline at the end of
the file whenever the buffer being saved does not already end in one.
If the value of the variable is non-@code{nil}, but not @code{t}, then
@code{save-buffer} asks the user whether to add a newline each time the
case arises.

If the value of the variable is @code{nil}, then @code{save-buffer}
doesn't add newlines at all.  @code{nil} is the default value, but a few
major modes set it to @code{t} in particular buffers.
@end defopt

  See also the function @code{set-visited-file-name} (@pxref{Buffer File

@node Reading from Files
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@section Reading from Files
@cindex reading from files

  You can copy a file from the disk and insert it into a buffer
using the @code{insert-file-contents} function.  Don't use the user-level
command @code{insert-file} in a Lisp program, as that sets the mark.

@defun insert-file-contents filename &optional visit beg end replace
This function inserts the contents of file @var{filename} into the
current buffer after point.  It returns a list of the absolute file name
and the length of the data inserted.  An error is signaled if
@var{filename} is not the name of a file that can be read.

The function @code{insert-file-contents} checks the file contents
against the defined file formats, and converts the file contents if
appropriate.  @xref{Format Conversion}.  It also calls the functions in
the list @code{after-insert-file-functions}; see @ref{Saving
Properties}.  Normally, one of the functions in the
@code{after-insert-file-functions} list determines the coding system
(@pxref{Coding Systems}) used for decoding the file's contents,
including end-of-line conversion.

If @var{visit} is non-@code{nil}, this function additionally marks the
buffer as unmodified and sets up various fields in the buffer so that it
is visiting the file @var{filename}: these include the buffer's visited
file name and its last save file modtime.  This feature is used by
@code{find-file-noselect} and you probably should not use it yourself.

If @var{beg} and @var{end} are non-@code{nil}, they should be integers
specifying the portion of the file to insert.  In this case, @var{visit}
must be @code{nil}.  For example,

(insert-file-contents filename nil 0 500)
@end example

inserts the first 500 characters of a file.

If the argument @var{replace} is non-@code{nil}, it means to replace the
contents of the buffer (actually, just the accessible portion) with the
contents of the file.  This is better than simply deleting the buffer
contents and inserting the whole file, because (1) it preserves some
marker positions and (2) it puts less data in the undo list.

It is possible to read a special file (such as a FIFO or an I/O device)
with @code{insert-file-contents}, as long as @var{replace} and
@var{visit} are @code{nil}.
@end defun

@defun insert-file-contents-literally filename &optional visit beg end replace
This function works like @code{insert-file-contents} except that it does
not do format decoding (@pxref{Format Conversion}), does not do
character code conversion (@pxref{Coding Systems}), does not run
@code{find-file-hook}, does not perform automatic uncompression, and so
@end defun

If you want to pass a file name to another process so that another
program can read the file, use the function @code{file-local-copy}; see
@ref{Magic File Names}.

@node Writing to Files
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@section Writing to Files
@cindex writing to files

  You can write the contents of a buffer, or part of a buffer, directly
to a file on disk using the @code{append-to-file} and
@code{write-region} functions.  Don't use these functions to write to
files that are being visited; that could cause confusion in the
mechanisms for visiting.

@deffn Command append-to-file start end filename
This function appends the contents of the region delimited by
@var{start} and @var{end} in the current buffer to the end of file
@var{filename}.  If that file does not exist, it is created.  This
function returns @code{nil}.

An error is signaled if @var{filename} specifies a nonwritable file,
or a nonexistent file in a directory where files cannot be created.

When called from Lisp, this function is completely equivalent to:

(write-region start end filename t)
@end example
@end deffn

@deffn Command write-region start end filename &optional append visit lockname mustbenew
This function writes the region delimited by @var{start} and @var{end}
in the current buffer into the file specified by @var{filename}.

If @var{start} is @code{nil}, then the command writes the entire buffer
contents (@emph{not} just the accessible portion) to the file and
ignores @var{end}.

@c Emacs 19 feature
If @var{start} is a string, then @code{write-region} writes or appends
that string, rather than text from the buffer.  @var{end} is ignored in
this case.

If @var{append} is non-@code{nil}, then the specified text is appended
to the existing file contents (if any).  If @var{append} is an
integer, @code{write-region} seeks to that byte offset from the start
of the file and writes the data from there.

If @var{mustbenew} is non-@code{nil}, then @code{write-region} asks
for confirmation if @var{filename} names an existing file.  If
@var{mustbenew} is the symbol @code{excl}, then @code{write-region}
does not ask for confirmation, but instead it signals an error
@code{file-already-exists} if the file already exists.

The test for an existing file, when @var{mustbenew} is @code{excl}, uses
a special system feature.  At least for files on a local disk, there is
no chance that some other program could create a file of the same name
before Emacs does, without Emacs's noticing.

If @var{visit} is @code{t}, then Emacs establishes an association
between the buffer and the file: the buffer is then visiting that file.
It also sets the last file modification time for the current buffer to
@var{filename}'s modtime, and marks the buffer as not modified.  This
feature is used by @code{save-buffer}, but you probably should not use
it yourself.

@c Emacs 19 feature
If @var{visit} is a string, it specifies the file name to visit.  This
way, you can write the data to one file (@var{filename}) while recording
the buffer as visiting another file (@var{visit}).  The argument
@var{visit} is used in the echo area message and also for file locking;
@var{visit} is stored in @code{buffer-file-name}.  This feature is used
to implement @code{file-precious-flag}; don't use it yourself unless you
really know what you're doing.

The optional argument @var{lockname}, if non-@code{nil}, specifies the
file name to use for purposes of locking and unlocking, overriding
@var{filename} and @var{visit} for that purpose.

The function @code{write-region} converts the data which it writes to
the appropriate file formats specified by @code{buffer-file-format}.
@xref{Format Conversion}.  It also calls the functions in the list
@code{write-region-annotate-functions}; see @ref{Saving Properties}.

Normally, @code{write-region} displays the message @samp{Wrote
@var{filename}} in the echo area.  If @var{visit} is neither @code{t}
nor @code{nil} nor a string, then this message is inhibited.  This
feature is useful for programs that use files for internal purposes,
files that the user does not need to know about.
@end deffn

@defmac with-temp-file file body@dots{}
@anchor{Definition of with-temp-file}
The @code{with-temp-file} macro evaluates the @var{body} forms with a
temporary buffer as the current buffer; then, at the end, it writes the
buffer contents into file @var{file}.  It kills the temporary buffer
when finished, restoring the buffer that was current before the
@code{with-temp-file} form.  Then it returns the value of the last form
in @var{body}.

The current buffer is restored even in case of an abnormal exit via
@code{throw} or error (@pxref{Nonlocal Exits}).

See also @code{with-temp-buffer} in @ref{Definition of
with-temp-buffer,, The Current Buffer}.
@end defmac

@node File Locks
@section File Locks
@cindex file locks
@cindex lock file

  When two users edit the same file at the same time, they are likely
to interfere with each other.  Emacs tries to prevent this situation
from arising by recording a @dfn{file lock} when a file is being
modified.  (File locks are not implemented on Microsoft systems.)
Emacs can then detect the first attempt to modify a buffer visiting a
file that is locked by another Emacs job, and ask the user what to do.
The file lock is really a file, a symbolic link with a special name,
stored in the same directory as the file you are editing.

  When you access files using NFS, there may be a small probability that
you and another user will both lock the same file ``simultaneously.''
If this happens, it is possible for the two users to make changes
simultaneously, but Emacs will still warn the user who saves second.
Also, the detection of modification of a buffer visiting a file changed
on disk catches some cases of simultaneous editing; see
@ref{Modification Time}.

@defun file-locked-p filename
This function returns @code{nil} if the file @var{filename} is not
locked.  It returns @code{t} if it is locked by this Emacs process, and
it returns the name of the user who has locked it if it is locked by
some other job.

(file-locked-p "foo")
     @result{} nil
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@defun lock-buffer &optional filename
This function locks the file @var{filename}, if the current buffer is
modified.  The argument @var{filename} defaults to the current buffer's
visited file.  Nothing is done if the current buffer is not visiting a
file, or is not modified, or if the system does not support locking.
@end defun

@defun unlock-buffer
This function unlocks the file being visited in the current buffer,
if the buffer is modified.  If the buffer is not modified, then
the file should not be locked, so this function does nothing.  It also
does nothing if the current buffer is not visiting a file, or if the
system does not support locking.
@end defun

  File locking is not supported on some systems.  On systems that do not
support it, the functions @code{lock-buffer}, @code{unlock-buffer} and
@code{file-locked-p} do nothing and return @code{nil}.

@defun ask-user-about-lock file other-user
This function is called when the user tries to modify @var{file}, but it
is locked by another user named @var{other-user}.  The default
definition of this function asks the user to say what to do.  The value
this function returns determines what Emacs does next:

@itemize @bullet
A value of @code{t} says to grab the lock on the file.  Then
this user may edit the file and @var{other-user} loses the lock.

A value of @code{nil} says to ignore the lock and let this
user edit the file anyway.

@kindex file-locked
This function may instead signal a @code{file-locked} error, in which
case the change that the user was about to make does not take place.

The error message for this error looks like this:

@error{} File is locked: @var{file} @var{other-user}
@end example

where @code{file} is the name of the file and @var{other-user} is the
name of the user who has locked the file.
@end itemize

If you wish, you can replace the @code{ask-user-about-lock} function
with your own version that makes the decision in another way.  The code
for its usual definition is in @file{userlock.el}.
@end defun

@node Information about Files
@section Information about Files
@cindex file, information about

  The functions described in this section all operate on strings that
designate file names.  With a few exceptions, all the functions have
names that begin with the word @samp{file}.  These functions all
return information about actual files or directories, so their
arguments must all exist as actual files or directories unless
otherwise noted.

* Testing Accessibility::   Is a given file readable?  Writable?
* Kinds of Files::          Is it a directory?  A symbolic link?
* Truenames::		    Eliminating symbolic links from a file name.
* File Attributes::         How large is it?  Any other names?  Etc.
* Locating Files::          How to find a file in standard places.
@end menu

@node Testing Accessibility
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@subsection Testing Accessibility
@cindex accessibility of a file
@cindex file accessibility

  These functions test for permission to access a file in specific
ways.  Unless explicitly stated otherwise, they recursively follow
symbolic links for their file name arguments, at all levels (at the
level of the file itself and at all levels of parent directories).

@defun file-exists-p filename
This function returns @code{t} if a file named @var{filename} appears
to exist.  This does not mean you can necessarily read the file, only
that you can find out its attributes.  (On Unix and GNU/Linux, this is
true if the file exists and you have execute permission on the
containing directories, regardless of the protection of the file

If the file does not exist, or if fascist access control policies
prevent you from finding the attributes of the file, this function
returns @code{nil}.

Directories are files, so @code{file-exists-p} returns @code{t} when
given a directory name.  However, symbolic links are treated
specially; @code{file-exists-p} returns @code{t} for a symbolic link
name only if the target file exists.
@end defun

@defun file-readable-p filename
This function returns @code{t} if a file named @var{filename} exists
and you can read it.  It returns @code{nil} otherwise.

(file-readable-p "files.texi")
     @result{} t
@end group
(file-exists-p "/usr/spool/mqueue")
     @result{} t
@end group
(file-readable-p "/usr/spool/mqueue")
     @result{} nil
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@c Emacs 19 feature
@defun file-executable-p filename
This function returns @code{t} if a file named @var{filename} exists and
you can execute it.  It returns @code{nil} otherwise.  On Unix and
GNU/Linux, if the file is a directory, execute permission means you can
check the existence and attributes of files inside the directory, and
open those files if their modes permit.
@end defun

@defun file-writable-p filename
This function returns @code{t} if the file @var{filename} can be written
or created by you, and @code{nil} otherwise.  A file is writable if the
file exists and you can write it.  It is creatable if it does not exist,
but the specified directory does exist and you can write in that

In the third example below, @file{foo} is not writable because the
parent directory does not exist, even though the user could create such
a directory.

(file-writable-p "~/foo")
     @result{} t
@end group
(file-writable-p "/foo")
     @result{} nil
@end group
(file-writable-p "~/no-such-dir/foo")
     @result{} nil
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@c Emacs 19 feature
@defun file-accessible-directory-p dirname
This function returns @code{t} if you have permission to open existing
files in the directory whose name as a file is @var{dirname};
otherwise (or if there is no such directory), it returns @code{nil}.
The value of @var{dirname} may be either a directory name (such as
@file{/foo/}) or the file name of a file which is a directory
(such as @file{/foo}, without the final slash).

Example: after the following,

(file-accessible-directory-p "/foo")
     @result{} nil
@end example

we can deduce that any attempt to read a file in @file{/foo/} will
give an error.
@end defun

@defun access-file filename string
This function opens file @var{filename} for reading, then closes it and
returns @code{nil}.  However, if the open fails, it signals an error
using @var{string} as the error message text.
@end defun

@defun file-ownership-preserved-p filename
This function returns @code{t} if deleting the file @var{filename} and
then creating it anew would keep the file's owner unchanged.  It also
returns @code{t} for nonexistent files.

If @var{filename} is a symbolic link, then, unlike the other functions
discussed here, @code{file-ownership-preserved-p} does @emph{not}
replace @var{filename} with its target.  However, it does recursively
follow symbolic links at all levels of parent directories.
@end defun

@defun file-newer-than-file-p filename1 filename2
@cindex file age
@cindex file modification time
This function returns @code{t} if the file @var{filename1} is
newer than file @var{filename2}.  If @var{filename1} does not
exist, it returns @code{nil}.  If @var{filename1} does exist, but
@var{filename2} does not, it returns @code{t}.

In the following example, assume that the file @file{aug-19} was written
on the 19th, @file{aug-20} was written on the 20th, and the file
@file{no-file} doesn't exist at all.

(file-newer-than-file-p "aug-19" "aug-20")
     @result{} nil
@end group
(file-newer-than-file-p "aug-20" "aug-19")
     @result{} t
@end group
(file-newer-than-file-p "aug-19" "no-file")
     @result{} t
@end group
(file-newer-than-file-p "no-file" "aug-19")
     @result{} nil
@end group
@end example

You can use @code{file-attributes} to get a file's last modification
time as a list of two numbers.  @xref{File Attributes}.
@end defun

@node Kinds of Files
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@subsection Distinguishing Kinds of Files

  This section describes how to distinguish various kinds of files, such
as directories, symbolic links, and ordinary files.

@defun file-symlink-p filename
@cindex file symbolic links
If the file @var{filename} is a symbolic link, the
@code{file-symlink-p} function returns the (non-recursive) link target
as a string.  (Determining the file name that the link points to from
the target is nontrivial.)  First, this function recursively follows
symbolic links at all levels of parent directories.

If the file @var{filename} is not a symbolic link (or there is no such file),
@code{file-symlink-p} returns @code{nil}.

(file-symlink-p "foo")
     @result{} nil
@end group
(file-symlink-p "sym-link")
     @result{} "foo"
@end group
(file-symlink-p "sym-link2")
     @result{} "sym-link"
@end group
(file-symlink-p "/bin")
     @result{} "/pub/bin"
@end group
@end example

@c !!! file-symlink-p: should show output of ls -l for comparison
@end defun

The next two functions recursively follow symbolic links at
all levels for @var{filename}.

@defun file-directory-p filename
This function returns @code{t} if @var{filename} is the name of an
existing directory, @code{nil} otherwise.

(file-directory-p "~rms")
     @result{} t
@end group
(file-directory-p "~rms/lewis/files.texi")
     @result{} nil
@end group
(file-directory-p "~rms/lewis/no-such-file")
     @result{} nil
@end group
(file-directory-p "$HOME")
     @result{} nil
@end group
 (substitute-in-file-name "$HOME"))
     @result{} t
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@defun file-regular-p filename
This function returns @code{t} if the file @var{filename} exists and is
a regular file (not a directory, named pipe, terminal, or
other I/O device).
@end defun

@node Truenames
@subsection Truenames
@cindex truename (of file)

@c Emacs 19 features
  The @dfn{truename} of a file is the name that you get by following
symbolic links at all levels until none remain, then simplifying away
@samp{.}@: and @samp{..}@: appearing as name components.  This results
in a sort of canonical name for the file.  A file does not always have a
unique truename; the number of distinct truenames a file has is equal to
the number of hard links to the file.  However, truenames are useful
because they eliminate symbolic links as a cause of name variation.

@defun file-truename filename
The function @code{file-truename} returns the truename of the file
@var{filename}.  The argument must be an absolute file name.

This function does not expand environment variables.  Only
@code{substitute-in-file-name} does that.  @xref{Definition of

If you may need to follow symbolic links preceding @samp{..}@:
appearing as a name component, you should make sure to call
@code{file-truename} without prior direct or indirect calls to
@code{expand-file-name}, as otherwise the file name component
immediately preceding @samp{..} will be ``simplified away'' before
@code{file-truename} is called.  To eliminate the need for a call to
@code{expand-file-name}, @code{file-truename} handles @samp{~} in the
same way that @code{expand-file-name} does.  @xref{File Name
Expansion,, Functions that Expand Filenames}.
@end defun

@defun file-chase-links filename &optional limit
This function follows symbolic links, starting with @var{filename},
until it finds a file name which is not the name of a symbolic link.
Then it returns that file name.  This function does @emph{not} follow
symbolic links at the level of parent directories.

If you specify a number for @var{limit}, then after chasing through
that many links, the function just returns what it has even if that is
still a symbolic link.
@end defun

  To illustrate the difference between @code{file-chase-links} and
@code{file-truename}, suppose that @file{/usr/foo} is a symbolic link to
the directory @file{/home/foo}, and @file{/home/foo/hello} is an
ordinary file (or at least, not a symbolic link) or nonexistent.  Then
we would have:

(file-chase-links "/usr/foo/hello")
     ;; @r{This does not follow the links in the parent directories.}
     @result{} "/usr/foo/hello"
(file-truename "/usr/foo/hello")
     ;; @r{Assuming that @file{/home} is not a symbolic link.}
     @result{} "/home/foo/hello"
@end example

  @xref{Buffer File Name}, for related information.

@node File Attributes
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@subsection Other Information about Files

  This section describes the functions for getting detailed information
about a file, other than its contents.  This information includes the
mode bits that control access permission, the owner and group numbers,
the number of names, the inode number, the size, and the times of access
and modification.

@defun file-modes filename
@cindex permission
@cindex file attributes
This function returns the mode bits of @var{filename}, as an integer.
The mode bits are also called the file permissions, and they specify
access control in the usual Unix fashion.  If the low-order bit is 1,
then the file is executable by all users, if the second-lowest-order bit
is 1, then the file is writable by all users, etc.

The highest value returnable is 4095 (7777 octal), meaning that
everyone has read, write, and execute permission, that the @acronym{SUID} bit
is set for both others and group, and that the sticky bit is set.

If @var{filename} does not exist, @code{file-modes} returns @code{nil}.

This function recursively follows symbolic links at all levels.

(file-modes "~/junk/diffs")
     @result{} 492               ; @r{Decimal integer.}
@end group
(format "%o" 492)
     @result{} "754"             ; @r{Convert to octal.}
@end group

(set-file-modes "~/junk/diffs" 438)
     @result{} nil
@end group

(format "%o" 438)
     @result{} "666"             ; @r{Convert to octal.}
@end group

% ls -l diffs
  -rw-rw-rw-  1 lewis 0 3063 Oct 30 16:00 diffs
@end group
@end example
@end defun

If the @var{filename} argument to the next two functions is a symbolic
link, then these function do @emph{not} replace it with its target.
However, they both recursively follow symbolic links at all levels of
parent directories.

@defun file-nlinks filename
This functions returns the number of names (i.e., hard links) that
file @var{filename} has.  If the file does not exist, then this function
returns @code{nil}.  Note that symbolic links have no effect on this
function, because they are not considered to be names of the files they
link to.

% ls -l foo*
-rw-rw-rw-  2 rms       4 Aug 19 01:27 foo
-rw-rw-rw-  2 rms       4 Aug 19 01:27 foo1
@end group

(file-nlinks "foo")
     @result{} 2
@end group
(file-nlinks "doesnt-exist")
     @result{} nil
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@defun file-attributes filename &optional id-format
@anchor{Definition of file-attributes}
This function returns a list of attributes of file @var{filename}.  If
the specified file cannot be opened, it returns @code{nil}.
The optional parameter @var{id-format} specifies the preferred format
of attributes @acronym{UID} and @acronym{GID} (see below)---the
valid values are @code{'string} and @code{'integer}.  The latter is
the default, but we plan to change that, so you should specify a
non-@code{nil} value for @var{id-format} if you use the returned
@acronym{UID} or @acronym{GID}.

The elements of the list, in order, are:

@enumerate 0
@code{t} for a directory, a string for a symbolic link (the name
linked to), or @code{nil} for a text file.

@c Wordy so as to prevent an overfull hbox.  --rjc 15mar92
The number of names the file has.  Alternate names, also known as hard
links, can be created by using the @code{add-name-to-file} function
(@pxref{Changing Files}).

The file's @acronym{UID}, normally as a string.  However, if it does
not correspond to a named user, the value is an integer or a floating
point number.

The file's @acronym{GID}, likewise.

The time of last access, as a list of two integers.
The first integer has the high-order 16 bits of time,
the second has the low 16 bits.  (This is similar to the
value of @code{current-time}; see @ref{Time of Day}.)

The time of last modification as a list of two integers (as above).
@cindex modification time of file

The time of last status change as a list of two integers (as above).

The size of the file in bytes.  If the size is too large to fit in a
Lisp integer, this is a floating point number.

The file's modes, as a string of ten letters or dashes,
as in @samp{ls -l}.

@code{t} if the file's @acronym{GID} would change if file were
deleted and recreated; @code{nil} otherwise.

The file's inode number.  If possible, this is an integer.  If the inode
number is too large to be represented as an integer in Emacs Lisp, then
the value has the form @code{(@var{high} . @var{low})}, where @var{low}
holds the low 16 bits.

The file system number of the file system that the file is in.
Depending on the magnitude of the value, this can be either an integer
or a cons cell, in the same manner as the inode number.  This element
and the file's inode number together give enough information to
distinguish any two files on the system---no two files can have the same
values for both of these numbers.
@end enumerate

For example, here are the file attributes for @file{files.texi}:

(file-attributes "files.texi" 'string)
     @result{}  (nil 1 "lh" "users"
          (8489 20284)
          (8489 20284)
          (8489 20285)
          14906 "-rw-rw-rw-"
          nil 129500 -32252)
@end group
@end example

and here is how the result is interpreted:

@table @code
@item nil
is neither a directory nor a symbolic link.

@item 1
has only one name (the name @file{files.texi} in the current default

@item "lh"
is owned by the user with name "lh".

@item "users"
is in the group with name "users".

@item (8489 20284)
was last accessed on Aug 19 00:09.

@item (8489 20284)
was last modified on Aug 19 00:09.

@item (8489 20285)
last had its inode changed on Aug 19 00:09.

@item 14906
is 14906 bytes long.  (It may not contain 14906 characters, though,
if some of the bytes belong to multibyte sequences.)

@item "-rw-rw-rw-"
has a mode of read and write access for the owner, group, and world.

@item nil
would retain the same @acronym{GID} if it were recreated.

@item 129500
has an inode number of 129500.
@item -32252
is on file system number -32252.
@end table
@end defun

@node Locating Files
@subsection How to Locate Files in Standard Places
@cindex locate file in path
@cindex find file in path

  This section explains how to search for a file in a list of
directories (a @dfn{path}).  One example is when you need to look for
a program's executable file, e.g., to find out whether a given program
is installed on the user's system.  Another example is the search for
Lisp libraries (@pxref{Library Search}).  Such searches generally need
to try various possible file name extensions, in addition to various
possible directories.  Emacs provides a function for such a
generalized search for a file.

@defun locate-file filename path &optional suffixes predicate
This function searches for a file whose name is @var{filename} in a
list of directories given by @var{path}, trying the suffixes in
@var{suffixes}.  If it finds such a file, it returns the full
@dfn{absolute file name} of the file (@pxref{Relative File Names});
otherwise it returns @code{nil}.

The optional argument @var{suffixes} gives the list of file-name
suffixes to append to @var{filename} when searching.
@code{locate-file} tries each possible directory with each of these
suffixes.  If @var{suffixes} is @code{nil}, or @code{("")}, then there
are no suffixes, and @var{filename} is used only as-is.  Typical
values of @var{suffixes} are @code{exec-suffixes} (@pxref{Subprocess
Creation, exec-suffixes}), @code{load-suffixes},
@code{load-file-rep-suffixes} and the return value of the function
@code{get-load-suffixes} (@pxref{Load Suffixes}).

Typical values for @var{path} are @code{exec-path} (@pxref{Subprocess
Creation, exec-path}) when looking for executable programs or
@code{load-path} (@pxref{Library Search, load-path}) when looking for
Lisp files.  If @var{filename} is absolute, @var{path} has no effect,
but the suffixes in @var{suffixes} are still tried.

The optional argument @var{predicate}, if non-@code{nil}, specifies
the predicate function to use for testing whether a candidate file is
suitable.  The predicate function is passed the candidate file name as
its single argument.  If @var{predicate} is @code{nil} or unspecified,
@code{locate-file} uses @code{file-readable-p} as the default
predicate.  Useful non-default predicates include
@code{file-executable-p}, @code{file-directory-p}, and other
predicates described in @ref{Kinds of Files}.

For compatibility, @var{predicate} can also be one of the symbols
@code{executable}, @code{readable}, @code{writable}, @code{exists}, or
a list of one or more of these symbols.
@end defun

@defun executable-find program
This function searches for the executable file of the named
@var{program} and returns the full absolute name of the executable,
including its file-name extensions, if any.  It returns @code{nil} if
the file is not found.  The functions searches in all the directories
in @code{exec-path} and tries all the file-name extensions in
@end defun

@node Changing Files
@section Changing File Names and Attributes
@c @cindex renaming files  Duplicates rename-file
@cindex copying files
@cindex deleting files
@cindex linking files
@cindex setting modes of files

  The functions in this section rename, copy, delete, link, and set the
modes of files.

  In the functions that have an argument @var{newname}, if a file by the
name of @var{newname} already exists, the actions taken depend on the
value of the argument @var{ok-if-already-exists}:

@itemize @bullet
Signal a @code{file-already-exists} error if
@var{ok-if-already-exists} is @code{nil}.

Request confirmation if @var{ok-if-already-exists} is a number.

Replace the old file without confirmation if @var{ok-if-already-exists}
is any other value.
@end itemize

The next four commands all recursively follow symbolic links at all
levels of parent directories for their first argument, but, if that
argument is itself a symbolic link, then only @code{copy-file}
replaces it with its (recursive) target.

@deffn Command add-name-to-file oldname newname &optional ok-if-already-exists
@cindex file with multiple names
@cindex file hard link
This function gives the file named @var{oldname} the additional name
@var{newname}.  This means that @var{newname} becomes a new ``hard
link'' to @var{oldname}.

In the first part of the following example, we list two files,
@file{foo} and @file{foo3}.

% ls -li fo*
81908 -rw-rw-rw-  1 rms       29 Aug 18 20:32 foo
84302 -rw-rw-rw-  1 rms       24 Aug 18 20:31 foo3
@end group
@end example

Now we create a hard link, by calling @code{add-name-to-file}, then list
the files again.  This shows two names for one file, @file{foo} and

(add-name-to-file "foo" "foo2")
     @result{} nil
@end group

% ls -li fo*
81908 -rw-rw-rw-  2 rms       29 Aug 18 20:32 foo
81908 -rw-rw-rw-  2 rms       29 Aug 18 20:32 foo2
84302 -rw-rw-rw-  1 rms       24 Aug 18 20:31 foo3
@end group
@end example

Finally, we evaluate the following:

(add-name-to-file "foo" "foo3" t)
@end example

and list the files again.  Now there are three names
for one file: @file{foo}, @file{foo2}, and @file{foo3}.  The old
contents of @file{foo3} are lost.

(add-name-to-file "foo1" "foo3")
     @result{} nil
@end group

% ls -li fo*
81908 -rw-rw-rw-  3 rms       29 Aug 18 20:32 foo
81908 -rw-rw-rw-  3 rms       29 Aug 18 20:32 foo2
81908 -rw-rw-rw-  3 rms       29 Aug 18 20:32 foo3
@end group
@end example

This function is meaningless on operating systems where multiple names
for one file are not allowed.  Some systems implement multiple names
by copying the file instead.

See also @code{file-nlinks} in @ref{File Attributes}.
@end deffn

@deffn Command rename-file filename newname &optional ok-if-already-exists
This command renames the file @var{filename} as @var{newname}.

If @var{filename} has additional names aside from @var{filename}, it
continues to have those names.  In fact, adding the name @var{newname}
with @code{add-name-to-file} and then deleting @var{filename} has the
same effect as renaming, aside from momentary intermediate states.
@end deffn

@deffn Command copy-file oldname newname &optional ok-if-exists time preserve-uid-gid
This command copies the file @var{oldname} to @var{newname}.  An
error is signaled if @var{oldname} does not exist.  If @var{newname}
names a directory, it copies @var{oldname} into that directory,
preserving its final name component.

If @var{time} is non-@code{nil}, then this function gives the new file
the same last-modified time that the old one has.  (This works on only
some operating systems.)  If setting the time gets an error,
@code{copy-file} signals a @code{file-date-error} error.  In an
interactive call, a prefix argument specifies a non-@code{nil} value
for @var{time}.

This function copies the file modes, too.

If argument @var{preserve-uid-gid} is @code{nil}, we let the operating
system decide the user and group ownership of the new file (this is
usually set to the user running Emacs).  If @var{preserve-uid-gid} is
non-@code{nil}, we attempt to copy the user and group ownership of the
file.  This works only on some operating systems, and only if you have
the correct permissions to do so.
@end deffn

@deffn Command make-symbolic-link filename newname  &optional ok-if-exists
@pindex ln
@kindex file-already-exists
This command makes a symbolic link to @var{filename}, named
@var{newname}.  This is like the shell command @samp{ln -s
@var{filename} @var{newname}}.

This function is not available on systems that don't support symbolic
@end deffn

@deffn Command delete-file filename
@pindex rm
This command deletes the file @var{filename}, like the shell command
@samp{rm @var{filename}}.  If the file has multiple names, it continues
to exist under the other names.

A suitable kind of @code{file-error} error is signaled if the file does
not exist, or is not deletable.  (On Unix and GNU/Linux, a file is
deletable if its directory is writable.)

If @var{filename} is a symbolic link, @code{delete-file} does not
replace it with its target, but it does follow symbolic links at all
levels of parent directories.

See also @code{delete-directory} in @ref{Create/Delete Dirs}.
@end deffn

@defun define-logical-name varname string
This function defines the logical name @var{varname} to have the value
@var{string}.  It is available only on VMS.
@end defun

@defun set-file-modes filename mode
This function sets mode bits of @var{filename} to @var{mode} (which
must be an integer).  Only the low 12 bits of @var{mode} are used.
This function recursively follows symbolic links at all levels for
@end defun

@c Emacs 19 feature
@defun set-default-file-modes mode
@cindex umask
This function sets the default file protection for new files created by
Emacs and its subprocesses.  Every file created with Emacs initially has
this protection, or a subset of it (@code{write-region} will not give a
file execute permission even if the default file protection allows
execute permission).  On Unix and GNU/Linux, the default protection is
the bitwise complement of the ``umask'' value.

The argument @var{mode} must be an integer.  On most systems, only the
low 9 bits of @var{mode} are meaningful.  You can use the Lisp construct
for octal character codes to enter @var{mode}; for example,

(set-default-file-modes ?\644)
@end example

Saving a modified version of an existing file does not count as creating
the file; it preserves the existing file's mode, whatever that is.  So
the default file protection has no effect.
@end defun

@defun default-file-modes
This function returns the current default protection value.
@end defun

@defun set-file-times filename &optional time
This function sets the access and modification times of @var{filename}
to @var{time}.  The return value is @code{t} if the times are successfully
set, otherwise it is @code{nil}.  @var{time} defaults to the current
time and must be in the format returned by @code{current-time}
(@pxref{Time of Day}).
@end defun

@cindex MS-DOS and file modes
@cindex file modes and MS-DOS
  On MS-DOS, there is no such thing as an ``executable'' file mode bit.
So Emacs considers a file executable if its name ends in one of the
standard executable extensions, such as @file{.com}, @file{.bat},
@file{.exe}, and some others.  Files that begin with the Unix-standard
@samp{#!} signature, such as shell and Perl scripts, are also considered
as executable files.  This is reflected in the values returned by
@code{file-modes} and @code{file-attributes}.  Directories are also
reported with executable bit set, for compatibility with Unix.

@node File Names
@section File Names
@cindex file names

  Files are generally referred to by their names, in Emacs as elsewhere.
File names in Emacs are represented as strings.  The functions that
operate on a file all expect a file name argument.

  In addition to operating on files themselves, Emacs Lisp programs
often need to operate on file names; i.e., to take them apart and to use
part of a name to construct related file names.  This section describes
how to manipulate file names.

  The functions in this section do not actually access files, so they
can operate on file names that do not refer to an existing file or

  On MS-DOS and MS-Windows, these functions (like the function that
actually operate on files) accept MS-DOS or MS-Windows file-name syntax,
where backslashes separate the components, as well as Unix syntax; but
they always return Unix syntax.  On VMS, these functions (and the ones
that operate on files) understand both VMS file-name syntax and Unix
syntax.  This enables Lisp programs to specify file names in Unix syntax
and work properly on all systems without change.

* File Name Components::  The directory part of a file name, and the rest.
* Relative File Names::   Some file names are relative to a current directory.
* Directory Names::       A directory's name as a directory
                            is different from its name as a file.
* File Name Expansion::   Converting relative file names to absolute ones.
* Unique File Names::     Generating names for temporary files.
* File Name Completion::  Finding the completions for a given file name.
* Standard File Names::   If your package uses a fixed file name,
                            how to handle various operating systems simply.
@end menu

@node File Name Components
@subsection File Name Components
@cindex directory part (of file name)
@cindex nondirectory part (of file name)
@cindex version number (in file name)

  The operating system groups files into directories.  To specify a
file, you must specify the directory and the file's name within that
directory.  Therefore, Emacs considers a file name as having two main
parts: the @dfn{directory name} part, and the @dfn{nondirectory} part
(or @dfn{file name within the directory}).  Either part may be empty.
Concatenating these two parts reproduces the original file name.

  On most systems, the directory part is everything up to and including
the last slash (backslash is also allowed in input on MS-DOS or
MS-Windows); the nondirectory part is the rest.  The rules in VMS syntax
are complicated.

  For some purposes, the nondirectory part is further subdivided into
the name proper and the @dfn{version number}.  On most systems, only
backup files have version numbers in their names.  On VMS, every file
has a version number, but most of the time the file name actually used
in Emacs omits the version number, so that version numbers in Emacs are
found mostly in directory lists.

@defun file-name-directory filename
This function returns the directory part of @var{filename}, as a
directory name (@pxref{Directory Names}), or @code{nil} if
@var{filename} does not include a directory part.

On GNU and Unix systems, a string returned by this function always
ends in a slash.  On MS-DOS it can also end in a colon.  On VMS, it
returns a string ending in one of the three characters @samp{:},
@samp{]}, or @samp{>}.

(file-name-directory "lewis/foo")  ; @r{Unix example}
     @result{} "lewis/"
@end group
(file-name-directory "foo")        ; @r{Unix example}
     @result{} nil
@end group
(file-name-directory "[X]FOO.TMP") ; @r{VMS example}
     @result{} "[X]"
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@defun file-name-nondirectory filename
This function returns the nondirectory part of @var{filename}.

(file-name-nondirectory "lewis/foo")
     @result{} "foo"
@end group
(file-name-nondirectory "foo")
     @result{} "foo"
@end group
(file-name-nondirectory "lewis/")
     @result{} ""
@end group
;; @r{The following example is accurate only on VMS.}
(file-name-nondirectory "[X]FOO.TMP")
     @result{} "FOO.TMP"
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@defun file-name-sans-versions filename &optional keep-backup-version
This function returns @var{filename} with any file version numbers,
backup version numbers, or trailing tildes discarded.

If @var{keep-backup-version} is non-@code{nil}, then true file version
numbers understood as such by the file system are discarded from the
return value, but backup version numbers are kept.

(file-name-sans-versions "~rms/foo.~1~")
     @result{} "~rms/foo"
@end group
(file-name-sans-versions "~rms/foo~")
     @result{} "~rms/foo"
@end group
(file-name-sans-versions "~rms/foo")
     @result{} "~rms/foo"
@end group
;; @r{The following example applies to VMS only.}
(file-name-sans-versions "foo;23")
     @result{} "foo"
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@defun file-name-extension filename &optional period
This function returns @var{filename}'s final ``extension,'' if any,
after applying @code{file-name-sans-versions} to remove any
version/backup part.  The extension, in a file name, is the part that
starts with the last @samp{.} in the last name component (minus
any version/backup part).

This function returns @code{nil} for extensionless file names such as
@file{foo}.  It returns @code{""} for null extensions, as in
@file{foo.}.  If the last component of a file name begins with a
@samp{.}, that @samp{.}  doesn't count as the beginning of an
extension.  Thus, @file{.emacs}'s ``extension'' is @code{nil}, not

If @var{period} is non-@code{nil}, then the returned value includes
the period that delimits the extension, and if @var{filename} has no
extension, the value is @code{""}.
@end defun

@defun file-name-sans-extension filename
This function returns @var{filename} minus its extension, if any.  The
version/backup part, if present, is only removed if the file has an
extension.  For example,

(file-name-sans-extension "foo.lose.c")
     @result{} "foo.lose"
(file-name-sans-extension "big.hack/foo")
     @result{} "big.hack/foo"
(file-name-sans-extension "/my/home/.emacs")
     @result{} "/my/home/.emacs"
(file-name-sans-extension "/my/home/.emacs.el")
     @result{} "/my/home/.emacs"
(file-name-sans-extension "~/foo.el.~3~")
     @result{} "~/foo"
(file-name-sans-extension "~/foo.~3~")
     @result{} "~/foo.~3~"
@end example

Note that the @samp{.~3~} in the two last examples is the backup part,
not an extension.
@end defun

Andrew Innes says that this

@c @defvar directory-sep-char
This variable holds the character that Emacs normally uses to separate
file name components.  The default value is @code{?/}, but on MS-Windows
you can set it to @code{?\\}; then the functions that transform file names
use backslashes in their output.

File names using backslashes work as input to Lisp primitives even on
MS-DOS and MS-Windows, even if @code{directory-sep-char} has its default
value of @code{?/}.
@end defvar
@end ignore

@node Relative File Names
@subsection Absolute and Relative File Names
@cindex absolute file name
@cindex relative file name

  All the directories in the file system form a tree starting at the
root directory.  A file name can specify all the directory names
starting from the root of the tree; then it is called an @dfn{absolute}
file name.  Or it can specify the position of the file in the tree
relative to a default directory; then it is called a @dfn{relative} file
name.  On Unix and GNU/Linux, an absolute file name starts with a slash
or a tilde (@samp{~}), and a relative one does not.  On MS-DOS and
MS-Windows, an absolute file name starts with a slash or a backslash, or
with a drive specification @samp{@var{x}:/}, where @var{x} is the
@dfn{drive letter}.  The rules on VMS are complicated.

@defun file-name-absolute-p filename
This function returns @code{t} if file @var{filename} is an absolute
file name, @code{nil} otherwise.  On VMS, this function understands both
Unix syntax and VMS syntax.

(file-name-absolute-p "~rms/foo")
     @result{} t
@end group
(file-name-absolute-p "rms/foo")
     @result{} nil
@end group
(file-name-absolute-p "/user/rms/foo")
     @result{} t
@end group
@end example
@end defun

  Given a possibly relative file name, you can convert it to an
absolute name using @code{expand-file-name} (@pxref{File Name
Expansion}).  This function converts absolute file names to relative

@defun file-relative-name filename &optional directory
This function tries to return a relative name that is equivalent to
@var{filename}, assuming the result will be interpreted relative to
@var{directory} (an absolute directory name or directory file name).
If @var{directory} is omitted or @code{nil}, it defaults to the
current buffer's default directory.

On some operating systems, an absolute file name begins with a device
name.  On such systems, @var{filename} has no relative equivalent based
on @var{directory} if they start with two different device names.  In
this case, @code{file-relative-name} returns @var{filename} in absolute

(file-relative-name "/foo/bar" "/foo/")
     @result{} "bar"
(file-relative-name "/foo/bar" "/hack/")
     @result{} "../foo/bar"
@end example
@end defun

@node Directory Names
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@subsection Directory Names
@cindex directory name
@cindex file name of directory

  A @dfn{directory name} is the name of a directory.  A directory is
actually a kind of file, so it has a file name, which is related to
the directory name but not identical to it.  (This is not quite the
same as the usual Unix terminology.)  These two different names for
the same entity are related by a syntactic transformation.  On GNU and
Unix systems, this is simple: a directory name ends in a slash,
whereas the directory's name as a file lacks that slash.  On MS-DOS and
VMS, the relationship is more complicated.

  The difference between a directory name and its name as a file is
subtle but crucial.  When an Emacs variable or function argument is
described as being a directory name, a file name of a directory is not
acceptable.  When @code{file-name-directory} returns a string, that is
always a directory name.

  The following two functions convert between directory names and file
names.  They do nothing special with environment variable substitutions
such as @samp{$HOME}, and the constructs @samp{~}, @samp{.} and @samp{..}.

@defun file-name-as-directory filename
This function returns a string representing @var{filename} in a form
that the operating system will interpret as the name of a directory.  On
most systems, this means appending a slash to the string (if it does not
already end in one).  On VMS, the function converts a string of the form
@file{[X]Y.DIR.1} to the form @file{[X.Y]}.

(file-name-as-directory "~rms/lewis")
     @result{} "~rms/lewis/"
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@defun directory-file-name dirname
This function returns a string representing @var{dirname} in a form that
the operating system will interpret as the name of a file.  On most
systems, this means removing the final slash (or backslash) from the
string.  On VMS, the function converts a string of the form @file{[X.Y]}
to @file{[X]Y.DIR.1}.

(directory-file-name "~lewis/")
     @result{} "~lewis"
@end group
@end example
@end defun

  Given a directory name, you can combine it with a relative file name
using @code{concat}:

(concat @var{dirname} @var{relfile})
@end example

Be sure to verify that the file name is relative before doing that.
If you use an absolute file name, the results could be syntactically
invalid or refer to the wrong file.

  If you want to use a directory file name in making such a
combination, you must first convert it to a directory name using

(concat (file-name-as-directory @var{dirfile}) @var{relfile})
@end example

Don't try concatenating a slash by hand, as in

;;; @r{Wrong!}
(concat @var{dirfile} "/" @var{relfile})
@end example

because this is not portable.  Always use

@cindex directory name abbreviation
  Directory name abbreviations are useful for directories that are
normally accessed through symbolic links.  Sometimes the users recognize
primarily the link's name as ``the name'' of the directory, and find it
annoying to see the directory's ``real'' name.  If you define the link
name as an abbreviation for the ``real'' name, Emacs shows users the
abbreviation instead.

@defvar directory-abbrev-alist
The variable @code{directory-abbrev-alist} contains an alist of
abbreviations to use for file directories.  Each element has the form
@code{(@var{from} . @var{to})}, and says to replace @var{from} with
@var{to} when it appears in a directory name.  The @var{from} string is
actually a regular expression; it should always start with @samp{^}.
The @var{to} string should be an ordinary absolute directory name.  Do
not use @samp{~} to stand for a home directory in that string.  The
function @code{abbreviate-file-name} performs these substitutions.

You can set this variable in @file{site-init.el} to describe the
abbreviations appropriate for your site.

Here's an example, from a system on which file system @file{/home/fsf}
and so on are normally accessed through symbolic links named @file{/fsf}
and so on.

(("^/home/fsf" . "/fsf")
 ("^/home/gp" . "/gp")
 ("^/home/gd" . "/gd"))
@end example
@end defvar

  To convert a directory name to its abbreviation, use this

@defun abbreviate-file-name filename
@anchor{Definition of abbreviate-file-name}
This function applies abbreviations from @code{directory-abbrev-alist}
to its argument, and substitutes @samp{~} for the user's home
directory.  You can use it for directory names and for file names,
because it recognizes abbreviations even as part of the name.
@end defun

@node File Name Expansion
@subsection Functions that Expand Filenames
@cindex expansion of file names

  @dfn{Expansion} of a file name means converting a relative file name
to an absolute one.  Since this is done relative to a default directory,
you must specify the default directory name as well as the file name to
be expanded.  Expansion also simplifies file names by eliminating
redundancies such as @file{./} and @file{@var{name}/../}.

@defun expand-file-name filename &optional directory
This function converts @var{filename} to an absolute file name.  If
@var{directory} is supplied, it is the default directory to start with
if @var{filename} is relative.  (The value of @var{directory} should
itself be an absolute directory name or directory file name; it may
start with @samp{~}.)  Otherwise, the current buffer's value of
@code{default-directory} is used.  For example:

(expand-file-name "foo")
     @result{} "/xcssun/users/rms/lewis/foo"
@end group
(expand-file-name "../foo")
     @result{} "/xcssun/users/rms/foo"
@end group
(expand-file-name "foo" "/usr/spool/")
     @result{} "/usr/spool/foo"
@end group
(expand-file-name "$HOME/foo")
     @result{} "/xcssun/users/rms/lewis/$HOME/foo"
@end group
@end example

If the part of the combined file name before the first slash is
@samp{~}, it expands to the value of the @env{HOME} environment
variable (usually your home directory).  If the part before the first
slash is @samp{~@var{user}} and if @var{user} is a valid login name,
it expands to @var{user}'s home directory.

Filenames containing @samp{.} or @samp{..} are simplified to their
canonical form:

(expand-file-name "bar/../foo")
     @result{} "/xcssun/users/rms/lewis/foo"
@end group
@end example

In some cases, a leading @samp{..} component can remain in the output:

(expand-file-name "../home" "/")
     @result{} "/../home"
@end group
@end example

This is for the sake of filesystems that have the concept of a
``superroot'' above the root directory @file{/}.  On other filesystems,
@file{/../} is interpreted exactly the same as @file{/}.

Note that @code{expand-file-name} does @emph{not} expand environment
variables; only @code{substitute-in-file-name} does that.

Note also that @code{expand-file-name} does not follow symbolic links
at any level.  This results in a difference between the way
@code{file-truename} and @code{expand-file-name} treat @samp{..}.
Assuming that @samp{/tmp/bar} is a symbolic link to the directory
@samp{/tmp/foo/bar} we get:

(file-truename "/tmp/bar/../myfile")
     @result{} "/tmp/foo/myfile"
@end group
(expand-file-name "/tmp/bar/../myfile")
     @result{} "/tmp/myfile"
@end group
@end example

If you may need to follow symbolic links preceding @samp{..}, you
should make sure to call @code{file-truename} without prior direct or
indirect calls to @code{expand-file-name}.  @xref{Truenames}.
@end defun

@defvar default-directory
The value of this buffer-local variable is the default directory for the
current buffer.  It should be an absolute directory name; it may start
with @samp{~}.  This variable is buffer-local in every buffer.

@code{expand-file-name} uses the default directory when its second
argument is @code{nil}.

Aside from VMS, the value is always a string ending with a slash.

     @result{} "/user/lewis/manual/"
@end group
@end example
@end defvar

@defun substitute-in-file-name filename
@anchor{Definition of substitute-in-file-name}
This function replaces environment variable references in
@var{filename} with the environment variable values.  Following
standard Unix shell syntax, @samp{$} is the prefix to substitute an
environment variable value.  If the input contains @samp{$$}, that is
converted to @samp{$}; this gives the user a way to ``quote'' a

The environment variable name is the series of alphanumeric characters
(including underscores) that follow the @samp{$}.  If the character following
the @samp{$} is a @samp{@{}, then the variable name is everything up to the
matching @samp{@}}.

Calling @code{substitute-in-file-name} on output produced by
@code{substitute-in-file-name} tends to give incorrect results.  For
instance, use of @samp{$$} to quote a single @samp{$} won't work
properly, and @samp{$} in an environment variable's value could lead
to repeated substitution.  Therefore, programs that call this function
and put the output where it will be passed to this function need to
double all @samp{$} characters to prevent subsequent incorrect

@c Wordy to avoid overfull hbox.  --rjc 15mar92
Here we assume that the environment variable @code{HOME}, which holds
the user's home directory name, has value @samp{/xcssun/users/rms}.

(substitute-in-file-name "$HOME/foo")
     @result{} "/xcssun/users/rms/foo"
@end group
@end example

After substitution, if a @samp{~} or a @samp{/} appears immediately
after another @samp{/}, the function discards everything before it (up
through the immediately preceding @samp{/}).

(substitute-in-file-name "bar/~/foo")
     @result{} "~/foo"
@end group
(substitute-in-file-name "/usr/local/$HOME/foo")
     @result{} "/xcssun/users/rms/foo"
     ;; @r{@file{/usr/local/} has been discarded.}
@end group
@end example

On VMS, @samp{$} substitution is not done, so this function does nothing
on VMS except discard superfluous initial components as shown above.
@end defun

@node Unique File Names
@subsection Generating Unique File Names

  Some programs need to write temporary files.  Here is the usual way to
construct a name for such a file:

(make-temp-file @var{name-of-application})
@end example

The job of @code{make-temp-file} is to prevent two different users or
two different jobs from trying to use the exact same file name.

@defun make-temp-file prefix &optional dir-flag suffix
This function creates a temporary file and returns its name.  Emacs
creates the temporary file's name by adding to @var{prefix} some
random characters that are different in each Emacs job.  The result is
guaranteed to be a newly created empty file.  On MS-DOS, this function
can truncate the @var{string} prefix to fit into the 8+3 file-name
limits.  If @var{prefix} is a relative file name, it is expanded
against @code{temporary-file-directory}.

(make-temp-file "foo")
     @result{} "/tmp/foo232J6v"
@end group
@end example

When @code{make-temp-file} returns, the file has been created and is
empty.  At that point, you should write the intended contents into the

If @var{dir-flag} is non-@code{nil}, @code{make-temp-file} creates an
empty directory instead of an empty file.  It returns the file name,
not the directory name, of that directory.  @xref{Directory Names}.

If @var{suffix} is non-@code{nil}, @code{make-temp-file} adds it at
the end of the file name.

To prevent conflicts among different libraries running in the same
Emacs, each Lisp program that uses @code{make-temp-file} should have its
own @var{prefix}.  The number added to the end of @var{prefix}
distinguishes between the same application running in different Emacs
jobs.  Additional added characters permit a large number of distinct
names even in one Emacs job.
@end defun

  The default directory for temporary files is controlled by the
variable @code{temporary-file-directory}.  This variable gives the user
a uniform way to specify the directory for all temporary files.  Some
programs use @code{small-temporary-file-directory} instead, if that is
non-@code{nil}.  To use it, you should expand the prefix against
the proper directory before calling @code{make-temp-file}.

  In older Emacs versions where @code{make-temp-file} does not exist,
you should use @code{make-temp-name} instead:

 (expand-file-name @var{name-of-application}
@end example

@defun make-temp-name string
This function generates a string that can be used as a unique file
name.  The name starts with @var{string}, and has several random
characters appended to it, which are different in each Emacs job.  It
is like @code{make-temp-file} except that it just constructs a name,
and does not create a file.  Another difference is that @var{string}
should be an absolute file name.  On MS-DOS, this function can
truncate the @var{string} prefix to fit into the 8+3 file-name limits.
@end defun

@defvar temporary-file-directory
@cindex @code{TMPDIR} environment variable
@cindex @code{TMP} environment variable
@cindex @code{TEMP} environment variable
This variable specifies the directory name for creating temporary files.
Its value should be a directory name (@pxref{Directory Names}), but it
is good for Lisp programs to cope if the value is a directory's file
name instead.  Using the value as the second argument to
@code{expand-file-name} is a good way to achieve that.

The default value is determined in a reasonable way for your operating
system; it is based on the @code{TMPDIR}, @code{TMP} and @code{TEMP}
environment variables, with a fall-back to a system-dependent name if
none of these variables is defined.

Even if you do not use @code{make-temp-file} to create the temporary
file, you should still use this variable to decide which directory to
put the file in.  However, if you expect the file to be small, you
should use @code{small-temporary-file-directory} first if that is
@end defvar

@defvar small-temporary-file-directory
This variable specifies the directory name for
creating certain temporary files, which are likely to be small.

If you want to write a temporary file which is likely to be small, you
should compute the directory like this:

  (expand-file-name @var{prefix}
                    (or small-temporary-file-directory
@end example
@end defvar

@node File Name Completion
@subsection File Name Completion
@cindex file name completion subroutines
@cindex completion, file name

  This section describes low-level subroutines for completing a file
name.  For higher level functions, see @ref{Reading File Names}.

@defun file-name-all-completions partial-filename directory
This function returns a list of all possible completions for a file
whose name starts with @var{partial-filename} in directory
@var{directory}.  The order of the completions is the order of the files
in the directory, which is unpredictable and conveys no useful

The argument @var{partial-filename} must be a file name containing no
directory part and no slash (or backslash on some systems).  The current
buffer's default directory is prepended to @var{directory}, if
@var{directory} is not absolute.

In the following example, suppose that @file{~rms/lewis} is the current
default directory, and has five files whose names begin with @samp{f}:
@file{foo}, @file{file~}, @file{file.c}, @file{file.c.~1~}, and

(file-name-all-completions "f" "")
     @result{} ("foo" "file~" "file.c.~2~"
                "file.c.~1~" "file.c")
@end group

(file-name-all-completions "fo" "")
     @result{} ("foo")
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@defun file-name-completion filename directory &optional predicate
This function completes the file name @var{filename} in directory
@var{directory}.  It returns the longest prefix common to all file names
in directory @var{directory} that start with @var{filename}.  If
@var{predicate} is non-@code{nil} then it ignores possible completions
that don't satisfy @var{predicate}, after calling that function
with one argument, the expanded absolute file name.

If only one match exists and @var{filename} matches it exactly, the
function returns @code{t}.  The function returns @code{nil} if directory
@var{directory} contains no name starting with @var{filename}.

In the following example, suppose that the current default directory
has five files whose names begin with @samp{f}: @file{foo},
@file{file~}, @file{file.c}, @file{file.c.~1~}, and

(file-name-completion "fi" "")
     @result{} "file"
@end group

(file-name-completion "file.c.~1" "")
     @result{} "file.c.~1~"
@end group

(file-name-completion "file.c.~1~" "")
     @result{} t
@end group

(file-name-completion "file.c.~3" "")
     @result{} nil
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@defopt completion-ignored-extensions
@code{file-name-completion} usually ignores file names that end in any
string in this list.  It does not ignore them when all the possible
completions end in one of these suffixes.  This variable has no effect
on @code{file-name-all-completions}.@refill

A typical value might look like this:

     @result{} (".o" ".elc" "~" ".dvi")
@end group
@end example

If an element of @code{completion-ignored-extensions} ends in a slash
@samp{/}, it signals a directory.  The elements which do @emph{not} end
in a slash will never match a directory; thus, the above value will not
filter out a directory named @file{foo.elc}.
@end defopt

@node Standard File Names
@subsection Standard File Names

  Most of the file names used in Lisp programs are entered by the user.
But occasionally a Lisp program needs to specify a standard file name
for a particular use---typically, to hold customization information
about each user.  For example, abbrev definitions are stored (by
default) in the file @file{~/.abbrev_defs}; the @code{completion}
package stores completions in the file @file{~/.completions}.  These are
two of the many standard file names used by parts of Emacs for certain

  Various operating systems have their own conventions for valid file
names and for which file names to use for user profile data.  A Lisp
program which reads a file using a standard file name ought to use, on
each type of system, a file name suitable for that system.  The function
@code{convert-standard-filename} makes this easy to do.

@defun convert-standard-filename filename
This function alters the file name @var{filename} to fit the conventions
of the operating system in use, and returns the result as a new string.
@end defun

  The recommended way to specify a standard file name in a Lisp program
is to choose a name which fits the conventions of GNU and Unix systems,
usually with a nondirectory part that starts with a period, and pass it
to @code{convert-standard-filename} instead of using it directly.  Here
is an example from the @code{completion} package:

(defvar save-completions-file-name
        (convert-standard-filename "~/.completions")
  "*The file name to save completions to.")
@end example

  On GNU and Unix systems, and on some other systems as well,
@code{convert-standard-filename} returns its argument unchanged.  On
some other systems, it alters the name to fit the system's conventions.

  For example, on MS-DOS the alterations made by this function include
converting a leading @samp{.}  to @samp{_}, converting a @samp{_} in the
middle of the name to @samp{.} if there is no other @samp{.}, inserting
a @samp{.} after eight characters if there is none, and truncating to
three characters after the @samp{.}.  (It makes other changes as well.)
Thus, @file{.abbrev_defs} becomes @file{_abbrev.def}, and
@file{.completions} becomes @file{_complet.ion}.

@node Contents of Directories
@section Contents of Directories
@cindex directory-oriented functions
@cindex file names in directory

  A directory is a kind of file that contains other files entered under
various names.  Directories are a feature of the file system.

  Emacs can list the names of the files in a directory as a Lisp list,
or display the names in a buffer using the @code{ls} shell command.  In
the latter case, it can optionally display information about each file,
depending on the options passed to the @code{ls} command.

@defun directory-files directory &optional full-name match-regexp nosort
This function returns a list of the names of the files in the directory
@var{directory}.  By default, the list is in alphabetical order.

If @var{full-name} is non-@code{nil}, the function returns the files'
absolute file names.  Otherwise, it returns the names relative to
the specified directory.

If @var{match-regexp} is non-@code{nil}, this function returns only
those file names that contain a match for that regular expression---the
other file names are excluded from the list.  On case-insensitive
filesystems, the regular expression matching is case-insensitive.

@c Emacs 19 feature
If @var{nosort} is non-@code{nil}, @code{directory-files} does not sort
the list, so you get the file names in no particular order.  Use this if
you want the utmost possible speed and don't care what order the files
are processed in.  If the order of processing is visible to the user,
then the user will probably be happier if you do sort the names.

(directory-files "~lewis")
     @result{} ("#foo#" "#foo.el#" "." ".."
         "dired-mods.el" "files.texi"
@end group
@end example

An error is signaled if @var{directory} is not the name of a directory
that can be read.
@end defun

@defun directory-files-and-attributes directory &optional full-name match-regexp nosort id-format
This is similar to @code{directory-files} in deciding which files
to report on and how to report their names.  However, instead
of returning a list of file names, it returns for each file a
list @code{(@var{filename} . @var{attributes})}, where @var{attributes}
is what @code{file-attributes} would return for that file.
The optional argument @var{id-format} has the same meaning as the
corresponding argument to @code{file-attributes} (@pxref{Definition
of file-attributes}).
@end defun

@defun file-name-all-versions file dirname
This function returns a list of all versions of the file named
@var{file} in directory @var{dirname}.  It is only available on VMS.
@end defun

@defun file-expand-wildcards pattern &optional full
This function expands the wildcard pattern @var{pattern}, returning
a list of file names that match it.

If @var{pattern} is written as an absolute file name,
the values are absolute also.

If @var{pattern} is written as a relative file name, it is interpreted
relative to the current default directory.  The file names returned are
normally also relative to the current default directory.  However, if
@var{full} is non-@code{nil}, they are absolute.
@end defun

@defun insert-directory file switches &optional wildcard full-directory-p
This function inserts (in the current buffer) a directory listing for
directory @var{file}, formatted with @code{ls} according to
@var{switches}.  It leaves point after the inserted text.
@var{switches} may be a string of options, or a list of strings
representing individual options.

The argument @var{file} may be either a directory name or a file
specification including wildcard characters.  If @var{wildcard} is
non-@code{nil}, that means treat @var{file} as a file specification with

If @var{full-directory-p} is non-@code{nil}, that means the directory
listing is expected to show the full contents of a directory.  You
should specify @code{t} when @var{file} is a directory and switches do
not contain @samp{-d}.  (The @samp{-d} option to @code{ls} says to
describe a directory itself as a file, rather than showing its

On most systems, this function works by running a directory listing
program whose name is in the variable @code{insert-directory-program}.
If @var{wildcard} is non-@code{nil}, it also runs the shell specified by
@code{shell-file-name}, to expand the wildcards.

MS-DOS and MS-Windows systems usually lack the standard Unix program
@code{ls}, so this function emulates the standard Unix program @code{ls}
with Lisp code.

As a technical detail, when @var{switches} contains the long
@samp{--dired} option, @code{insert-directory} treats it specially,
for the sake of dired.  However, the normally equivalent short
@samp{-D} option is just passed on to @code{insert-directory-program},
as any other option.
@end defun

@defvar insert-directory-program
This variable's value is the program to run to generate a directory listing
for the function @code{insert-directory}.  It is ignored on systems
which generate the listing with Lisp code.
@end defvar

@node Create/Delete Dirs
@section Creating and Deleting Directories
@cindex creating and deleting directories
@c Emacs 19 features

  Most Emacs Lisp file-manipulation functions get errors when used on
files that are directories.  For example, you cannot delete a directory
with @code{delete-file}.  These special functions exist to create and
delete directories.

@defun make-directory dirname &optional parents
This function creates a directory named @var{dirname}.
If @var{parents} is non-@code{nil}, as is always the case in an
interactive call, that means to create the parent directories first,
if they don't already exist.
@end defun

@defun delete-directory dirname
This function deletes the directory named @var{dirname}.  The function
@code{delete-file} does not work for files that are directories; you
must use @code{delete-directory} for them.  If the directory contains
any files, @code{delete-directory} signals an error.

This function only follows symbolic links at the level of parent
@end defun

@node Magic File Names
@section Making Certain File Names ``Magic''
@cindex magic file names

@c Emacs 19 feature
  You can implement special handling for certain file names.  This is
called making those names @dfn{magic}.  The principal use for this
feature is in implementing remote file names (@pxref{Remote Files,,
Remote Files, emacs, The GNU Emacs Manual}).

  To define a kind of magic file name, you must supply a regular
expression to define the class of names (all those that match the
regular expression), plus a handler that implements all the primitive
Emacs file operations for file names that do match.

  The variable @code{file-name-handler-alist} holds a list of handlers,
together with regular expressions that determine when to apply each
handler.  Each element has this form:

(@var{regexp} . @var{handler})
@end example

All the Emacs primitives for file access and file name transformation
check the given file name against @code{file-name-handler-alist}.  If
the file name matches @var{regexp}, the primitives handle that file by
calling @var{handler}.

  The first argument given to @var{handler} is the name of the
primitive, as a symbol; the remaining arguments are the arguments that
were passed to that primitive.  (The first of these arguments is most
often the file name itself.)  For example, if you do this:

(file-exists-p @var{filename})
@end example

and @var{filename} has handler @var{handler}, then @var{handler} is
called like this:

(funcall @var{handler} 'file-exists-p @var{filename})
@end example

  When a function takes two or more arguments that must be file names,
it checks each of those names for a handler.  For example, if you do

(expand-file-name @var{filename} @var{dirname})
@end example

then it checks for a handler for @var{filename} and then for a handler
for @var{dirname}.  In either case, the @var{handler} is called like

(funcall @var{handler} 'expand-file-name @var{filename} @var{dirname})
@end example

The @var{handler} then needs to figure out whether to handle
@var{filename} or @var{dirname}.

  If the specified file name matches more than one handler, the one
whose match starts last in the file name gets precedence.  This rule
is chosen so that handlers for jobs such as uncompression are handled
first, before handlers for jobs such as remote file access.

  Here are the operations that a magic file name handler gets to handle:

@code{access-file}, @code{add-name-to-file},
@code{copy-file}, @code{delete-directory},
@code{dired-compress-file}, @code{dired-uncache},@*
@code{file-executable-p}, @code{file-exists-p},
@code{file-local-copy}, @code{file-remote-p},
@code{file-modes}, @code{file-name-all-completions},
@code{file-name-sans-versions}, @code{file-newer-than-file-p},
@code{file-readable-p}, @code{file-regular-p}, @code{file-symlink-p},
@code{file-truename}, @code{file-writable-p},
@code{rename-file}, @code{set-file-modes}, @code{set-file-times},
@code{set-visited-file-modtime}, @code{shell-command},
@end ifnottex
@code{access-file}, @code{add-name-to-file},
@code{copy-file}, @code{delete-directory},
@code{dired-compress-file}, @code{dired-uncache},
@code{file-executable-p}, @code{file-exists-p},
@code{file-local-copy}, @code{file-remote-p},
@code{file-modes}, @code{file-name-all-completions},
@code{file-name-sans-versions}, @code{file-newer-than-file-p},
@code{file-readable-p}, @code{file-regular-p}, @code{file-symlink-p},
@code{file-truename}, @code{file-writable-p},
@code{load}, @code{make-direc@discretionary{}{}{}tory},
@code{rename-file}, @code{set-file-modes},
@code{set-visited-file-modtime}, @code{shell-command},
@end flushleft
@end iftex

  Handlers for @code{insert-file-contents} typically need to clear the
buffer's modified flag, with @code{(set-buffer-modified-p nil)}, if the
@var{visit} argument is non-@code{nil}.  This also has the effect of
unlocking the buffer if it is locked.

  The handler function must handle all of the above operations, and
possibly others to be added in the future.  It need not implement all
these operations itself---when it has nothing special to do for a
certain operation, it can reinvoke the primitive, to handle the
operation ``in the usual way.''  It should always reinvoke the primitive
for an operation it does not recognize.  Here's one way to do this:

(defun my-file-handler (operation &rest args)
  ;; @r{First check for the specific operations}
  ;; @r{that we have special handling for.}
  (cond ((eq operation 'insert-file-contents) @dots{})
        ((eq operation 'write-region) @dots{})
        ;; @r{Handle any operation we don't know about.}
        (t (let ((inhibit-file-name-handlers
                  (cons 'my-file-handler
                        (and (eq inhibit-file-name-operation operation)
                 (inhibit-file-name-operation operation))
             (apply operation args)))))
@end smallexample

  When a handler function decides to call the ordinary Emacs primitive for
the operation at hand, it needs to prevent the primitive from calling
the same handler once again, thus leading to an infinite recursion.  The
example above shows how to do this, with the variables
@code{inhibit-file-name-handlers} and
@code{inhibit-file-name-operation}.  Be careful to use them exactly as
shown above; the details are crucial for proper behavior in the case of
multiple handlers, and for operations that have two file names that may
each have handlers.

@kindex safe-magic (@r{property})
  Handlers that don't really do anything special for actual access to the
file---such as the ones that implement completion of host names for
remote file names---should have a non-@code{nil} @code{safe-magic}
property.  For instance, Emacs normally ``protects'' directory names
it finds in @code{PATH} from becoming magic, if they look like magic
file names, by prefixing them with @samp{/:}.  But if the handler that
would be used for them has a non-@code{nil} @code{safe-magic}
property, the @samp{/:} is not added.

@kindex operations (@r{property})
  A file name handler can have an @code{operations} property to
declare which operations it handles in a nontrivial way.  If this
property has a non-@code{nil} value, it should be a list of
operations; then only those operations will call the handler.  This
avoids inefficiency, but its main purpose is for autoloaded handler
functions, so that they won't be loaded except when they have real
work to do.

  Simply deferring all operations to the usual primitives does not
work.  For instance, if the file name handler applies to
@code{file-exists-p}, then it must handle @code{load} itself, because
the usual @code{load} code won't work properly in that case.  However,
if the handler uses the @code{operations} property to say it doesn't
handle @code{file-exists-p}, then it need not handle @code{load}

@defvar inhibit-file-name-handlers
This variable holds a list of handlers whose use is presently inhibited
for a certain operation.
@end defvar

@defvar inhibit-file-name-operation
The operation for which certain handlers are presently inhibited.
@end defvar

@defun find-file-name-handler file operation
This function returns the handler function for file name @var{file},
or @code{nil} if there is none.  The argument @var{operation} should
be the operation to be performed on the file---the value you will pass
to the handler as its first argument when you call it.  If
@var{operation} equals @code{inhibit-file-name-operation}, or if it is
not found in the @code{operations} property of the handler, this
function returns @code{nil}.
@end defun

@defun file-local-copy filename
This function copies file @var{filename} to an ordinary non-magic file
on the local machine, if it isn't on the local machine already.  Magic
file names should handle the @code{file-local-copy} operation if they
refer to files on other machines.  A magic file name that is used for
other purposes than remote file access should not handle
@code{file-local-copy}; then this function will treat the file as

If @var{filename} is local, whether magic or not, this function does
nothing and returns @code{nil}.  Otherwise it returns the file name
of the local copy file.
@end defun

@defun file-remote-p filename
This function tests whether @var{filename} is a remote file.  If
@var{filename} is local (not remote), the return value is @code{nil}.
If @var{filename} is indeed remote, the return value is a string that
identifies the remote system.

This identifier string can include a host name and a user name, as
well as characters designating the method used to access the remote
system.  For example, the remote identifier string for the filename
@code{/ssh:user@@host:/some/file} is @code{/ssh:user@@host:}.

If @code{file-remote-p} returns the same identifier for two different
filenames, that means they are stored on the same file system and can
be accessed locally with respect to each other.  This means, for
example, that it is possible to start a remote process accessing both
files at the same time.  Implementors of file handlers need to ensure
this principle is valid.
@end defun

@defun unhandled-file-name-directory filename
This function returns the name of a directory that is not magic.  It
uses the directory part of @var{filename} if that is not magic.  For a
magic file name, it invokes the file name handler, which therefore
decides what value to return.

This is useful for running a subprocess; every subprocess must have a
non-magic directory to serve as its current directory, and this function
is a good way to come up with one.
@end defun

@node Format Conversion
@section File Format Conversion

@cindex file format conversion
@cindex encoding file formats
@cindex decoding file formats
  The variable @code{format-alist} defines a list of @dfn{file formats},
which describe textual representations used in files for the data (text,
text-properties, and possibly other information) in an Emacs buffer.
Emacs performs format conversion if appropriate when reading and writing

@defvar format-alist
This list contains one format definition for each defined file format.
@end defvar

@cindex format definition
Each format definition is a list of this form:

(@var{name} @var{doc-string} @var{regexp} @var{from-fn} @var{to-fn} @var{modify} @var{mode-fn})
@end example

Here is what the elements in a format definition mean:

@table @var
@item name
The name of this format.

@item doc-string
A documentation string for the format.

@item regexp
A regular expression which is used to recognize files represented in
this format.

@item from-fn
A shell command or function to decode data in this format (to convert
file data into the usual Emacs data representation).

A shell command is represented as a string; Emacs runs the command as a
filter to perform the conversion.

If @var{from-fn} is a function, it is called with two arguments, @var{begin}
and @var{end}, which specify the part of the buffer it should convert.
It should convert the text by editing it in place.  Since this can
change the length of the text, @var{from-fn} should return the modified
end position.

One responsibility of @var{from-fn} is to make sure that the beginning
of the file no longer matches @var{regexp}.  Otherwise it is likely to
get called again.

@item to-fn
A shell command or function to encode data in this format---that is, to
convert the usual Emacs data representation into this format.

If @var{to-fn} is a string, it is a shell command; Emacs runs the
command as a filter to perform the conversion.

If @var{to-fn} is a function, it is called with three arguments:
@var{begin} and @var{end}, which specify the part of the buffer it
should convert, and @var{buffer}, which specifies which buffer.  There
are two ways it can do the conversion:

@itemize @bullet
By editing the buffer in place.  In this case, @var{to-fn} should
return the end-position of the range of text, as modified.

By returning a list of annotations.  This is a list of elements of the
form @code{(@var{position} . @var{string})}, where @var{position} is an
integer specifying the relative position in the text to be written, and
@var{string} is the annotation to add there.  The list must be sorted in
order of position when @var{to-fn} returns it.

When @code{write-region} actually writes the text from the buffer to the
file, it intermixes the specified annotations at the corresponding
positions.  All this takes place without modifying the buffer.
@end itemize

@item modify
A flag, @code{t} if the encoding function modifies the buffer, and
@code{nil} if it works by returning a list of annotations.

@item mode-fn
A minor-mode function to call after visiting a file converted from this
format.  The function is called with one argument, the integer 1;
that tells a minor-mode function to enable the mode.
@end table

The function @code{insert-file-contents} automatically recognizes file
formats when it reads the specified file.  It checks the text of the
beginning of the file against the regular expressions of the format
definitions, and if it finds a match, it calls the decoding function for
that format.  Then it checks all the known formats over again.
It keeps checking them until none of them is applicable.

Visiting a file, with @code{find-file-noselect} or the commands that use
it, performs conversion likewise (because it calls
@code{insert-file-contents}); it also calls the mode function for each
format that it decodes.  It stores a list of the format names in the
buffer-local variable @code{buffer-file-format}.

@defvar buffer-file-format
This variable states the format of the visited file.  More precisely,
this is a list of the file format names that were decoded in the course
of visiting the current buffer's file.  It is always buffer-local in all
@end defvar

When @code{write-region} writes data into a file, it first calls the
encoding functions for the formats listed in @code{buffer-file-format},
in the order of appearance in the list.

@deffn Command format-write-file file format &optional confirm
This command writes the current buffer contents into the file
@var{file} in format @var{format}, and makes that format the default
for future saves of the buffer.  The argument @var{format} is a list
of format names.  Except for the @var{format} argument, this command
is similar to @code{write-file}.  In particular, @var{confirm} has the
same meaning and interactive treatment as the corresponding argument
to @code{write-file}.  @xref{Definition of write-file}.
@end deffn

@deffn Command format-find-file file format
This command finds the file @var{file}, converting it according to
format @var{format}.  It also makes @var{format} the default if the
buffer is saved later.

The argument @var{format} is a list of format names.  If @var{format} is
@code{nil}, no conversion takes place.  Interactively, typing just
@key{RET} for @var{format} specifies @code{nil}.
@end deffn

@deffn Command format-insert-file file format &optional beg end
This command inserts the contents of file @var{file}, converting it
according to format @var{format}.  If @var{beg} and @var{end} are
non-@code{nil}, they specify which part of the file to read, as in
@code{insert-file-contents} (@pxref{Reading from Files}).

The return value is like what @code{insert-file-contents} returns: a
list of the absolute file name and the length of the data inserted
(after conversion).

The argument @var{format} is a list of format names.  If @var{format} is
@code{nil}, no conversion takes place.  Interactively, typing just
@key{RET} for @var{format} specifies @code{nil}.
@end deffn

@defvar buffer-auto-save-file-format
This variable specifies the format to use for auto-saving.  Its value is
a list of format names, just like the value of
@code{buffer-file-format}; however, it is used instead of
@code{buffer-file-format} for writing auto-save files.  If the value
is @code{t}, the default, auto-saving uses the same format as a
regular save in the same buffer.  This variable is always buffer-local
in all buffers.
@end defvar

   arch-tag: 141f74ce-6ae3-40dc-a6c4-ef83fc4ec35c
@end ignore