rcirc is an Emacs IRC client.
IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is a multi-user chat protocol. Users communicate with each other in real-time. Communication occurs both in topic channels which are collections of many users, or privately, with just one other user.
Copyright © 2006–2018 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with the Front-Cover Texts being “A GNU Manual”, and with the Back-Cover Texts as in (a) below. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License”.
(a) The FSF's Back-Cover Text is: “You have the freedom to copy and modify this GNU manual.”
|Fighting Information Overload|
|Hacking and Tweaking|
|GNU Free Documentation License|
Detailed Node Listing
|Internet Relay Chat|
|Getting started with rcirc|
|Useful IRC commands|
|Fighting Information Overload|
|Hacking and Tweaking|
|Skipping /away messages using handlers|
|Using fly spell mode|
|Changing the time stamp format|
|Defining a new command|
|Reconnecting after you have lost the connection|
This chapter contains a brief introduction to IRC (Internet Relay Chat),
and a quick tutorial on
1.1 Internet Relay Chat
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a form of instant communication over the Internet. It is mainly designed for group (many-to-many) communication in discussion forums called channels, but also allows one-to-one communication.
Contrary to most Instant Messenger (IM) systems, users usually don't connect to a central server. Instead, users connect to a random server in a network, and servers relay messages from one to the next.
Here's a typical example:
When you connect to the Freenode network
http://freenode.net/), you point your IRC client at the
irc.freenode.net. That server will redirect your client
to a random server on the network, such as
Once you're connected, you can send messages to all other users
connected to the same network, and you can join all channels on the same
network. You might join the
#emacs and the
channels, for example. (Typically, channel names begin with a hash
Once you have joined a channel, anything you type will be broadcast to all the other users on the same channel.
deego: fsbot rules!
1.2 Getting started with rcirc
Use the command M-x irc to connect using the defaults. See Configuration, if you want to change the defaults.
Use C-u M-x irc if you don't want to use the defaults, e.g., if you want to connect to a different network, or connect to the same network using a different nick. This will prompt you for four things:
- IRC Server
- What server do you want to connect to? All the servers in a particular
network are equivalent. Some networks use a round-robin system where a
single server redirects new connections to a random server in the
irc.freenode.netis such a server for the Freenode network. Freenode provides the network “for the Free and Open Source Software communities, for not-for-profit organizations and for related communities and organizations.”
- IRC Port
- All network connections require a port. Just as web servers and clients use port 80 per default, IRC uses port 6667 per default. You rarely have to use a different port.
- IRC Nick
- Every users needs a handle on-line. You will automatically be assigned
a slightly different nick if your chosen nick is already in use. If
alex, and this nick is already in use, you might for example get assigned the nick
- IRC Channels
- A space separated list of channels you want to join when connecting.
You don't need to join any channels, if you just want to have one-to-one
conversations with friends on the same network. If you're new to the
Freenode network, join
#emacs, the channel about all things Emacs, or join
#rcirc, the channel about
If you want to paste multiple lines, such as source code, you can use C-c C-c to edit your message in a separate buffer. Use C-c C-c to finish editing. You still need to press <RET> to send it, though. Generally, IRC users don't like people pasting more than around four lines of code, so use with care.
Once you are connected to multiple channels, or once you've turned you attention to other buffers in Emacs, you probably want to be notified of any activity in channels not currently visible. All you need to do is switch channel tracking on using M-x rcirc-track-minor-mode. To make this permanent, add the following to your init file:
Use C-c C-<SPC> to switch to these buffers.
2.1 rcirc commands
In addition to using regular Emacs key bindings, you can call them by
typing them into an
/nick "alex schroeder"
This will try to change your nick to
"alex. Usually this will
fail because the double quote character is not a valid character for
- C-c C-j
- This joins a channel such as
#emacs. On most networks, anybody can create new channels. If you want to talk with some friends, for example, all you have to do is agree on a valid channel name and join that channel. (Also
- C-c C-p
- This leaves the current channel. You can optionally provide a reason
for parting. When you kill a channel buffer, you automatically part the
corresponding channel. (Also
/part you are too weird!.)
- C-c C-r
- This changes your nick to some other name. Your nick must be unique
across the network. Most networks don't allow too many nick changes in
quick succession, and have restrictions on the valid characters in nick
- C-c C-w
- Gives you some basic information about a nick. This often includes what
other channels people are on. (Also
- C-c C-q
- Starts a one-to-one conversation with another person on the same
network. A new buffer will be created for this conversation. It works
like a channel with only two members. (Also
- C-c <RET>
- This sends a single message to a nick. Like with C-c C-q, a new
buffer is created, where the response from the other party will show
/msg nickserv identify secret.)
- C-c C-x
- This disconnects from the server and parts all channels. You can
optionally provide a reason for quitting. When you kill the server
buffer, you automatically quit the server and part all channels. (Also
2.2 Useful IRC commands
- This sets your status as “being away” if you provide a reason, or sets
your status as “being back” if you do not. People can use the
C-c C-w command to check your status. Example:
Typical IRC servers implement many more commands. You can read more about the fantastic world of IRC online at the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) help archive.
- This variable contains an alist of servers to connect to by default
and the keywords parameters to use. The keyword parameters are
optional. If you don't provide any, the defaults as documented below
will be used.
The most important parameter is the
:channelsparameter. It controls which channels you will join by default as soon as you are connected to the server.
Here's an example of how to set it:
(add-to-list 'rcirc-server-alist '("otherworlders.org" :channels ("#FUDGE" "#game-design")))
By default you will be connected to the
- This overrides
- This overrides
- This overrides
- This overrides
- This describes which channels to join when connecting to the server. If absent, no channels will be connected to automatically.
- This variable is used for the default nick. It defaults to the login
name returned by
(setq rcirc-default-nick "kensanata")
- This variable contains the default port to connect to. It is 6667 by
default and rarely needs changing.
- This variable contains the default user name to report to the server.
It defaults to the login name returned by
user-login-name, just like
- This variable is used to set your “real name” on IRC. It defaults
to the name returned by
user-full-name. If you want to hide your full name, you might want to set it to some pseudonym.
(setq rcirc-default-full-name "Curious Minds Want To Know")
- This variable is an alist used to automatically identify yourself on
networks. Each sublist starts with a regular expression that is
compared to the server address you're connecting to. The second
element in the list is a symbol representing the method to use,
followed by the arguments this method requires.
Here is an example to illustrate how you would set it:
(setq rcirc-authinfo '(("freenode" nickserv "bob" "p455w0rd") ("freenode" chanserv "bob" "#bobland" "passwd99") ("bitlbee" bitlbee "robert" "sekrit")))
And here are the valid method symbols and the arguments they require:
- Use this symbol if you need to identify yourself as follows when
connecting to a network:
/msg nickserv identify secret. The necessary arguments are the nickname you want to use this for, and the password to use.
Before you can use this method, you will have to register your nick and pick a password for it. Contact
nickservand check out the details. (Using
/msg nickserv help, for example.)
- Use this symbol if you need to identify yourself as follows if you want
to join a particular channel:
/msg chanserv identify #underground secret. The necessary arguments are the nickname and channel you want to use this for, and the password to use.
Before you can use this method, a channel contact must tell you about the password to use. Contact
chanservand check out the details. (Using
/msg chanserv help, for example.)
- Use this symbol if you need to identify yourself in the Bitlbee channel
identify secret. The necessary arguments are the nickname you want to use this for, and the password to use.
Bitlbee acts like an IRC server, but in fact it is a gateway to a lot of other instant messaging services. You can either install Bitlbee locally or use a public Bitlbee server. There, you need to create an account with a password. This is the nick and password you need to provide for the bitlbee authentication method.
Later, you will tell Bitlbee about your accounts and passwords on all the other instant messaging services, and Bitlbee will log you in. All
rcircneeds to know, is the login to your Bitlbee account. Don't confuse the Bitlbee account with all the other accounts.
3 Fighting Information Overload
This is the section of the manual that caters to the busy person
online. There are support channels with several hundred people in
them. Trying to follow a conversation in these channels can be a
daunting task. This chapters tells you how
rcirc can help.
Most people want a notification when something is said on a channel they have joined, particularly if they have been addressed directly. There is a global minor mode that will do this kind of tracking for you. All you need to do is switch it on using M-x rcirc-track-minor-mode. To make this permanent, add the following to your init file:
When other people say things in buffers that are currently buried (no window is showing them), the mode line will now show you the abbreviated channel or nick name. Use C-c C-<SPC> to switch to these buffers.
(add-hook 'rcirc-mode-hook (lambda () (rcirc-track-minor-mode 1)))
The solution is to mark this channel as a low priority channel. Use C-c C-l to make the current channel a low-priority channel. Low priority channels have the modeline indicator “LowPri”. C-c C-<SPC> will not switch to low priority channels unless you use the C-u prefix.
This is of course a crude all-or-nothing solution. Fear not,
rcirc offers alternatives: You can “brighten” your buddies
and “dim” certain other nicks that you don't want to ignore
- This command toggles the ignore status of a nick, if you provide one.
If you don't provide a nick, the command lists all the nicks you are
ignoring. All messages by ignored nicks are—you guessed it—ignored.
Since only “operators” can kick people from channels, the
ignore command is often the only way to deal with some of the more
obnoxious fellows online. Example:
- This command toggles the bright status of a nick, if you provide one.
If you don't provide a nick, the command lists all the “brightened”
nicks. All messages by brightened nicks are—you guessed
it—brightened. Use this for your friends. Example:
- This command toggles the dim status of a nick, if you provide one. If
you don't provide a nick, the command lists all the “dimmed” nicks.
All messages by dimmed nicks are—you guessed it—dimmed. Use this
for boring people and bots. If you are tracking channel activity,
messages by dimmed nicks will not register as activity. Example:
- This command toggles the highlighting of a keyword, if you provide
one. If you don't provide a keyword, the current keywords are
(setq rcirc-omit-responses '("JOIN" "PART" "QUIT" "NICK" "AWAY"))
Notice that these messages will not be omitted if the nick in question
has recently been active. After all, you don't want to continue a
conversation with somebody who just left. That's why
checks recent lines in the buffer to figure out if a nick has been
active and only omits a message if the nick has not been active. The
rcirc considers is controlled by the
4 Hacking and Tweaking
/away messages using handlers
The IRC protocol specifies how certain events are signaled from server
to client. These events have numbers and are dealt with using so-called
handlers. You can override existing handlers by exploiting the naming
convention adopted for
Here's how to stop
rcirc from printing
rcirc doesn't define a 301 handler, you don't need to
rcirc before defining the handler:
(defun rcirc-handler-301 (process cmd sender args) "/away message handler.")
4.2 Using fly spell mode
(add-hook 'rcirc-mode-hook (lambda () (flyspell-mode 1)))
See Flyspell mode, for details.
4.3 Scrolling conservatively
IRC buffers are constantly growing. If you want to see as much as
possible at all times, you would want the prompt at the bottom of the
window when possible. The following snippet uses a local value for
scroll-conservatively to achieve this:
(add-hook 'rcirc-mode-hook (lambda () (set (make-local-variable 'scroll-conservatively) 8192)))
See Scrolling conservatively, for details.
4.4 Changing the time stamp format
(setq rcirc-time-format "%Y-%m-%d %H:%M ")
4.5 Defining a new command
We're waiting for the definition of this command until
rcirc is loaded
defun-rcirc-command is not yet available, and without
rcirc loaded, the command wouldn't do us much good anyway.
(with-eval-after-load 'rcirc (defun-rcirc-command sv (arg) "Boast about rcirc." (interactive "i") (rcirc-send-message process target (concat "I use " rcirc-id-string))))
4.6 Reconnecting after you have lost the connection
If you're chatting from a laptop, then you might be familiar with this problem: When your laptop falls asleep and wakes up later, your IRC client doesn't realize that it has been disconnected. It takes several minutes until the client decides that the connection has in fact been lost. The simple solution is to use M-x rcirc. The problem is that this opens an additional connection, so you'll have two copies of every channel buffer, one dead and one live.
The real answer, therefore, is a
(with-eval-after-load 'rcirc (defun-rcirc-command reconnect (arg) "Reconnect the server process." (interactive "i") (unless process (error "There's no process for this target")) (let* ((server (car (process-contact process))) (port (process-contact process :service)) (nick (rcirc-nick process)) channels query-buffers) (dolist (buf (buffer-list)) (with-current-buffer buf (when (eq process (rcirc-buffer-process)) (remove-hook 'change-major-mode-hook 'rcirc-change-major-mode-hook) (if (rcirc-channel-p rcirc-target) (setq channels (cons rcirc-target channels)) (setq query-buffers (cons buf query-buffers)))))) (delete-process process) (rcirc-connect server port nick rcirc-default-user-name rcirc-default-full-name channels))))
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C-c C-c: Getting started with rcirc
C-c C-j: rcirc commands
C-c C-l: Channels
C-c C-o: Notices
C-c C-p: rcirc commands
C-c C-q: rcirc commands
C-c C-r: rcirc commands
C-c C-SPC: Channels
C-c C-w: rcirc commands
C-c C-x: rcirc commands
C-c RET: rcirc commands
C-c TAB: Channels
C-h m: rcirc commands
RET: Getting started with rcirc
TAB: Internet Relay Chat
rcirc-mode-hook: Scrolling conservatively
rcirc-mode-hook: Using fly spell mode
rcirc-time-format: Changing the time stamp format
scroll-conservatively: Scrolling conservatively
user-login-name: Getting started with rcirc
- # starts a channel name: Internet Relay Chat
- / starts a command: rcirc commands
- /away: Useful IRC commands
- /away messages: Skipping /away messages using handlers
- /bright: People
- /dim: People
- /ignore: People
- /join: rcirc commands
- /keyword: Keywords
- /msg: rcirc commands
- /nick: rcirc commands
- /part: rcirc commands
- /query: rcirc commands
- /quit: rcirc commands
- /whois: rcirc commands
- 6667, default IRC port: Getting started with rcirc
- abbreviated channel names: Channels
- active channel: Channels
- addressing other people: Internet Relay Chat
- AIM: Configuration
- authentication: Configuration
- automatic spelling: Using fly spell mode
- away notices, how to omit: Notices
- away status: Useful IRC commands
- bitlbee authentication: Configuration
- brighten nicks: People
- buddies: People
- buddies, highlight: People
- busy channels: Channels
- call commands: rcirc commands
- case insensitive commands: rcirc commands
- change name: rcirc commands
- changing nick: Getting started with rcirc
- channel: Internet Relay Chat
- channel name: Internet Relay Chat
- channels: Channels
- channels other people are on: rcirc commands
- channels, configuration: Configuration
- channels, connecting: Getting started with rcirc
- chanserv authentication: Configuration
- command unknown: rcirc commands
- commands: Useful IRC commands
- commands: rcirc commands
- commands, defining: Defining a new command
- communicating: Getting started with rcirc
- completion of nicks: Internet Relay Chat
- configuring rcirc: Configuration
- connecting to a server: Getting started with rcirc
- connection end: rcirc commands
- contact one person only: rcirc commands
- date time: Changing the time stamp format
- defining commands: Defining a new command
- disappearing messages if starting with a slash: rcirc commands
- disconnect: rcirc commands
- disconnect from a channel: rcirc commands
- disconnecting servers, reconnecting: Reconnecting after you have lost the connection
- discussion, joining: rcirc commands
- double-quotes: rcirc commands
- edit message before sending: Getting started with rcirc
- end connection: rcirc commands
- fly spell: Using fly spell mode
- format time stamp: Changing the time stamp format
- Freenode network: Getting started with rcirc
- friends: People
- friends, highlight: People
- full name: Configuration
- gateway to other IM services: Configuration
- getting started: Getting started with rcirc
- hacking and tweaking: Hacking and Tweaking
- handlers: Skipping /away messages using handlers
- help about irc: Useful IRC commands
- hide some posts: People
- highlight other people: People
- ICQ: Configuration
- identification: Configuration
- identifying people: rcirc commands
- idiots online: People
- ignored channels: Channels
- ignoring other people: People
- information overload: Fighting Information Overload
- initial channels: Getting started with rcirc
- initial channels, configuration: Configuration
- initial servers, configuration: Configuration
- input line: Scrolling conservatively
- instant messaging, comparison: Internet Relay Chat
- instant messaging, other services: Configuration
- internet relay chat: Internet Relay Chat
- irc: Internet Relay Chat
- irc command: Getting started with rcirc
- irc commands: Useful IRC commands
- irc resources: Useful IRC commands
- Jabber: Configuration
- join channels: rcirc commands
- join notices, how to omit: Notices
- keywords: Keywords
- kill channel buffer: rcirc commands
- kill connection: rcirc commands
- leave a channel: rcirc commands
- login: Configuration
- low priority channels: Notices
- low priority channels: Channels
- message sending: rcirc commands
- messages starting with a slash disappear: rcirc commands
- messages, multiple lines: Getting started with rcirc
- modeline: Channels
- modeline tracks activity: Channels
- MSN: Configuration
- multiline messages: Getting started with rcirc
- multiple words as parameters: rcirc commands
- name changes: Getting started with rcirc
- network: Internet Relay Chat
- new command: rcirc commands
- new commands, defining: Defining a new command
- nick changing: rcirc commands
- nick completion: Internet Relay Chat
- nick notices, how to omit: Notices
- nick, connecting: Getting started with rcirc
- nicks, highlight: People
- nicks, how to ignore: People
- nickserv: Configuration
- nickserv authentication: Configuration
- obnoxious people online: People
- one-to-one conversation: rcirc commands
- other channels: rcirc commands
- other name: rcirc commands
- other people, addressing them: Internet Relay Chat
- part a channel: rcirc commands
- part all channels: rcirc commands
- part notices, how to omit: Notices
- pasting multiple lines: Getting started with rcirc
- pause status: Useful IRC commands
- people, how to ignore: People
- port: Configuration
- port, connecting: Getting started with rcirc
- private conversation: rcirc commands
- query a person: rcirc commands
- quit: rcirc commands
- quit notices, how to omit: Notices
- quotes: rcirc commands
- rabble online: People
- rcirc commands: rcirc commands
- real name: Configuration
- reason for quitting: rcirc commands
- reconnecting: Reconnecting after you have lost the connection
- redirection to random servers: Internet Relay Chat
- reference: Reference
- rename yourself: rcirc commands
- rooms, joining: rcirc commands
- scrolling: Scrolling conservatively
- server: Internet Relay Chat
- server buffer: Getting started with rcirc
- server buffer killing: rcirc commands
- server, connecting: Getting started with rcirc
- servers, configuration: Configuration
- set away status: Useful IRC commands
- single message: rcirc commands
- slash hides message: rcirc commands
- soft-ignore other people: People
- spell-checking as you type: Using fly spell mode
- spelling: Using fly spell mode
- starting a private conversation: rcirc commands
- startup channels: Getting started with rcirc
- startup channels, configuration: Configuration
- startup servers, configuration: Configuration
- status codes: Skipping /away messages using handlers
- stop talking on a channel: rcirc commands
- string delimiters: rcirc commands
- surname: Configuration
- switching channels: Channels
- talk privately: rcirc commands
- talk to other people: Internet Relay Chat
- talking: Getting started with rcirc
- time stamp: Changing the time stamp format
- tracking activity: Channels
- trolls: People
- trolls, ignoring: People
- typing commands: rcirc commands
- unavailable status: Useful IRC commands
- unknown command: rcirc commands
- user name: Configuration
- what channels people are on: rcirc commands
- who are these people: rcirc commands
- Yahoo!: Configuration