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Releases | Supported Platforms | Obtaining Emacs | Documentation | Support | Further information

GNU Emacs

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GNU Emacs is an extensible, customizable text editor—and more. At its core is an interpreter for Emacs Lisp, a dialect of the Lisp programming language with extensions to support text editing. The features of GNU Emacs include:


The current stable release is 23.2. To obtain it, visit the obtaining section.

Emacs 23 has a wide variety of new features, including:

For more information, read its News file.

Release History

Supported Platforms

Emacs 23 runs on these operating systems regardless of the machine type:

  • GNU/Linux
  • FreeBSD
  • NetBSD
  • OpenBSD
  • Solaris
  • Mac OS X
  • MS Windows
  • MS DOS
  • AIX 4.3.3 and higher
  • SunOS
  • Ultrix

GNU Emacs contains code for supporting several other operating systems and machine types; however, in many cases we don't know whether they still work. The definitive reference for this is the MACHINES file, which is also distributed with GNU Emacs; this file also lists the special requirements for compiling GNU Emacs on these systems.

Obtaining/Downloading GNU Emacs

GNU Emacs can be downloaded from, or from a GNU mirror.

GNU Emacs development is hosted on See the Emacs project page on Savannah, where the latest development sources are publicly available from our Bazaar repository.


Two Emacs manuals, the GNU Emacs manual and An Introduction to Programming in Emacs Lisp, can be purchased in printed form from the FSF store (however, the versions corresponding to Emacs 23 may not be available yet). These manuals, along with the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual and several other manuals documenting major modes and other optional features, can also be read online. They are also distributed with Emacs in Info format; type C-h i in Emacs to view them.

GNU Emacs manual Read Online Purchase
An Introduction to Programming in Emacs Lisp Read Online Purchase
Emacs Lisp Reference Manual Read Online (out of print)
Other Emacs manuals Read Online

The Emacs distribution includes the full source code for the manuals, as well as the Emacs Reference Card in several languages.

The Emacs FAQ can be read online as HTML or plain text. The Emacs on Windows FAQ is available here. The source code for these FAQs are also part of the Emacs distribution.


Further Information

The Emacs FAQ (html, plain text) contains information about Emacs history, common problems, and how to obtain optional extensions.

The Emacs Wiki is a community website about using and programming Emacs, including information about optional extensions; complete manuals or documentation fragments; comments on the different Emacs versions, flavors, and ports; and references to other Emacs related information on the Web.

The Savannah Emacs page has additional information about Emacs, including access to the Emacs development sources.

For those curious about Emacs history: Emacs was originally implementated in 1976 on the MIT AI Lab's Incompatible Timesharing System (ITS), as a collection of TECO macros. The name “Emacs” was originally chosen as an abbreviation of “Editor MACroS”. This version of Emacs, GNU Emacs, was originally written in 1984. For more information, see the 1981 paper by Richard Stallman, describing the design of the original Emacs and the lessons to be learned from it, and a transcript of his 2002 speech at the International Lisp Conference, My Lisp Experiences and the Development of GNU Emacs.

GNU Emacs Fun

The Free Software Foundation is the principal organizational sponsor of the GNU Operating System. Our mission is to preserve, protect and promote the freedom to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer software, and to defend the rights of Free Software users.

Support GNU and the FSF by buying manuals and gear, joining the FSF as an associate member or by making a donation.

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