Sometimes it is convenient to be able to step through only some difference regions, those that match certain regular expressions, and to ignore all others. On other occasions, you may want to ignore difference regions that match some regular expressions, and to look only at the rest.
The commands #f and #h let you do precisely this.
Typing #f lets you specify regular expressions that match difference regions you want to focus on. We shall call these regular expressions regexp-A, regexp-B and regexp-C. Ediff will then start stepping through only those difference regions where the region in buffer A matches regexp-A and/or the region in buffer B matches regexp-B, etc. Whether ‘and’ or ‘or’ will be used depends on how you respond to a question.
When scanning difference regions for the aforesaid regular expressions, Ediff narrows the buffers to those regions. This means that you can use the expressions \` and \' to tie search to the beginning or end of the difference regions.
On the other hand, typing #h lets you specify (hide) uninteresting
regions. That is, if a difference region in buffer A matches
regexp-A, the corresponding region in buffer B matches regexp-B
and (if applicable) buffer C’s region matches regexp-C, then the
region will be ignored by the commands n/SPC
ediff-next-difference) and p/DEL
Typing #f and #h toggles selective browsing on and off.
Note that selective browsing affects only
ediff-previous-difference, i.e., the commands
n/SPC and p/DEL. #f and #h do not
change the position of the point in the buffers. And you can still jump
directly (using j) to any numbered
Users can supply their own functions to specify how Ediff should do
selective browsing. To change the default Ediff function, add a function to
ediff-load-hook which will do the following assignments:
(setq ediff-hide-regexp-matches-function 'your-hide-function) (setq ediff-focus-on-regexp-matches-function 'your-focus-function)
Useful hint: To specify a regexp that matches everything, don’t simply type RET in response to a prompt. Typing RET tells Ediff to accept the default value, which may not be what you want. Instead, you should enter something like ^ or $. These match every line.
You can use the status command, i, to find out whether selective browsing is currently in effect.
The regular expressions you specified are kept in the local variables
ediff-regexp-hide-C. Their default value
is the empty string (i.e., nothing is hidden or focused on). To change the
default, set these variables in .emacs using
In addition to the ability to ignore regions that match regular expressions, Ediff can be ordered to start skipping over certain “uninteresting” difference regions. This is controlled by the following variable:
t, causes Ediff to skip over "uninteresting" difference regions,
which are the regions where the variants differ only in the amount of the
white space and newlines. This feature can be toggled on/off interactively,
via the command ##.
Please note: in order for this feature to work, auto-refining of difference regions must be on, since otherwise Ediff won’t know if there are fine differences between regions. On devices where Emacs can display faces, auto-refining is a default, but it is not turned on by default on text-only terminals. In that case, you must explicitly turn auto-refining on (such as, by typing @).
Reassurance: If many such uninteresting regions appear in a row, Ediff may take a long time to skip over them because it has to compute fine differences of all intermediate regions. This delay does not indicate any problem.
Finally, Ediff can be told to ignore the case of the letters. This behavior
can be toggled with #c and it is controlled with three variables:
ediff-ignore-case-option specifies the option to pass
to the diff program for comparing two files or buffers. For GNU
diff, this option is
"-i". The variable
ediff-ignore-case-option3 specifies the option to pass to the
diff3 program in order to make it case-insensitive. GNU
does not have such an option, so when merging or comparing three files with
this program, ignoring the letter case is not supported.
ediff-ignore-case controls whether Ediff starts out by
ignoring letter case or not. It can be set in .emacs using
When case sensitivity is toggled, all difference regions are recomputed.