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5.3 How do I get colors and syntax highlighting on a TTY?

In Emacs 21.1 and later, colors and faces are supported in non-windowed mode, i.e., on Unix and GNU/Linux text-only terminals and consoles, and when invoked as ‘emacs -nw’ on X, and MS-Windows. (Colors and faces were supported in the MS-DOS port since Emacs 19.29.) Emacs automatically detects color support at startup and uses it if available. If you think that your terminal supports colors, but Emacs won’t use them, check the termcap entry for your display type for color-related capabilities.

The command M-x list-colors-display pops up a window which exhibits all the colors Emacs knows about on the current display.

Syntax highlighting is on by default since version 22.1.