Releases | Supported Platforms | Obtaining Emacs | Documentation | Support | Further information
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:
- Content-sensitive editing modes, including syntax coloring, for a
variety of file types including plain text, source code, and
- Complete built-in documentation, including a tutorial for new
- Full Unicode support for nearly
all human languages and their scripts.
- Highly customizable, using Emacs Lisp code or a graphical
- A large number of extensions that add other functionality,
including a project
planner, mail and news
and more. Many of these extensions are distributed with GNU Emacs;
The current stable release is 24.4 (released October 20, 2014;
see also dates of older releases).
To obtain it, visit the obtaining
Emacs 24 has a wide variety of new features, including:
- A packaging system and interface (M-x list-packages)
for downloading and installing extensions. A default package
archive is hosted by GNU and maintained by the Emacs
- Support for displaying and editing bidirectional text, including
right-to-left scripts such as Arabic and Hebrew.
- Support for lexical scoping in Emacs Lisp.
- Improvements to the Custom Themes system (M-x customize-themes).
- Unified and improved completion system in many modes and packages.
- Built-in support
For more information, read the News file.
Emacs 24 runs on several operating systems regardless of the machine
type. The main ones are:
- Mac OS X
- MS Windows
GNU Emacs contains code for supporting several other operating
systems and machine types. For more details, see the
MACHINES file, which is also distributed
with GNU Emacs.
Obtaining/Downloading GNU Emacs
You can download GNU Emacs releases from a
nearby GNU mirror;
or if automatic redirection does not work see the list of
GNU mirrors, or use
the main GNU ftp server.
GNU Emacs development is hosted on
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. 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.
The Emacs distribution includes the full source code for the
manuals, as well as several Emacs
Reference Cards in various languages.
The Emacs FAQ is
The Emacs on MS Windows FAQ is
(These FAQs and their source code are part of the Emacs distribution.)
The Emacs FAQ
about Emacs history, common problems, and how to obtain optional
Emacs 24 includes a built-in package manager, which you can use
to download additional Emacs extensions. Type M-x
list-packages to view a list of available packages. The default
package archive is hosted by the GNU project; more archives can be
added by customizing the variable
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
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.
Here is the cover of the original
Emacs Manual for ITS; the cover of the original
Emacs Manual for Twenex; and (the only cartoon RMS has ever
drawn) the Self-Documenting