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

GNU Emacs

GNU Emacs splash screen
New to Emacs?
Take the Emacs tour

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 24.5 (released April 10, 2015; see also dates of older releases).
To obtain it, visit the obtaining section.

Emacs 24 has a wide variety of new features, including:

For more information, read the News file.

Supported Platforms

Emacs runs on several operating systems regardless of the machine type. The main ones are:

  • GNU
  • GNU/Linux
  • FreeBSD
  • NetBSD
  • OpenBSD
  • Mac OS X
  • MS Windows
  • Solaris

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.

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 several Emacs Reference Cards in various languages.


Further Information

Emacs 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 package-archives.

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 implemented 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 Extensible Editor.

 [FSF logo] “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.”

The Free Software Foundation is the principal organizational sponsor of the GNU Operating System. Support GNU and the FSF by buying manuals and gear, joining the FSF as an associate member, or making a donation, either directly to the FSF or via Flattr.

back to top

Translations of this page