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5.7 How do I turn on abbrevs by default just in mode mymode?

Abbrev mode expands abbreviations as you type them. To turn it on in a specific buffer, use M-x abbrev-mode. To turn it on in every buffer by default, put this in your .emacs file:

(setq-default abbrev-mode t)

To turn it on in a specific mode, use:

(add-hook 'mymode-mode-hook
          (lambda ()
           (setq abbrev-mode t)))

If your Emacs version is older then 22.1, you will also need to use:

(condition-case ()
   (quietly-read-abbrev-file)
  (file-error nil))