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You can quote an absolute file name to prevent special characters and syntax in it from having their special effects. The way to do this is to add `/:' at the beginning.
For example, you can quote a local file name which appears remote, to prevent it from being treated as a remote file name. Thus, if you have a directory named `/foo:' and a file named `bar' in it, you can refer to that file in Emacs as `/:/foo:/bar'.
`/:' can also prevent `~' from being treated as a special character for a user's home directory. For example, `/:/tmp/~hack' refers to a file whose name is `~hack' in directory `/tmp'.
Likewise, quoting with `/:' is one way to enter in the minibuffer a file name that contains `$'. However, the `/:' must be at the beginning of the minibuffer in order to quote `$'.
You can also quote wildcard characters with `/:', for visiting. For example, `/:/tmp/foo*bar' visits the file `/tmp/foo*bar'. However, in most cases you can simply type the wildcard characters for themselves. For example, if the only file name in `/tmp' that starts with `foo' and ends with `bar' is `foo*bar', then specifying `/tmp/foo*bar' will visit just `/tmp/foo*bar'. Another way is to specify `/tmp/foo[*]bar'.