Emacs - Beginner Configuration

alpha2phi
7 min readFeb 18, 2021
Emacs for Beginner

Overview

In my previous article, I documented a very brief tutorial of Emacs Lisp. In this article let’s continue to create an Emacs configuration for beginners.

Introduction

Emacs is more than just a text/code editor (LSP, DAP). It is an extensible computing environment that can be used as an email client (mu4e), window manager (exwm), editing remote files (tramp), and much more. With org-mode, you can use Emacs for keeping notes, maintaining to-do lists, planning projects, authoring documents, computational notebooks, literate programming (Babel), and more.

Unlike VSCode which is easy to get started, Emacs requires customization using elisp in order to be useful and effective for use. There are distributions like Spacemacs or Doom Emacs which make it easy to get started using Emacs. However, I suggest you start by understanding some basics of Emacs Lisp and try to configure your own Emacs dotfiles. Without understanding the basics you are going to encounter issues when you want to customize Emacs further.

With the fundamentals, you can then decide if you want to develop your own dotfiles or use Emacs distributions like Spacemacs or Doom Emacs.

The Basics

Emacs Screen

Emacs Screen

Above is a screenshot of Emacs out of the box

  • Frame is highlighted in the RED rectangle.
  • Menu bar is highlighted in BLUE rectangle.
  • Tool bar is highlighted in GREEN rectangle.
  • Window is highlighted in MAGENTA rectangle.
  • On the left of the window highlighted in BROWN is the window fringe.
  • Mode line is highlighted in the YELLOW rectangle.
  • Echo area is highlighted in BLACK rectangle (at the bottom of…

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alpha2phi

Software engineer, Data Science and ML practitioner.