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G. Help

Emacs provides extensive help features accessible through a single character, C-h. C-h is a prefix key that is used for commands that display documentation. The characters that you can type after C-h are called help options. One help option is C-h; that is how you ask for help about using C-h. To cancel, type C-g. The function key F1 is equivalent to C-h.

C-h C-h (help-for-help) displays a list of the possible help options, each with a brief description. Before you type a help option, you can use SPC or DEL to scroll through the list.

C-h or F1 means "help" in various other contexts as well. For example, in the middle of query-replace, it describes the options available for how to operate on the current match. After a prefix key, it displays a list of the alternatives that can follow the prefix key. (A few prefix keys don't support C-h, because they define other meanings for it, but they all support F1.)

Most help buffers use a special major mode, Help mode, which lets you scroll conveniently with SPC and DEL. It also offers hyperlinks to further help regarding cross-referenced names, Info nodes, customization buffers and the like. See section G.7 Help Mode Commands.

If you are looking for a certain feature, but don't know where exactly it is documented, and aren't sure of the name of a related command or option, we recommend trying these methods. Usually it is best to start with an apropos command, then try searching the manual index, then finally look in the FAQ and the package keywords.

C-h a topic RET
This searches for commands whose names match topic, which should be a regular expression (see section K.5 Syntax of Regular Expressions). Browse the buffer that this command displays to find what you are looking for. See section G.4 Apropos.

M-x apropos RET topic RET
This works like C-h a, but it also searches for user options and other variables, in case the feature you are looking for is controlled by an option, not a command. See section G.4 Apropos.

M-x apropos-documentation RET topic RET
This searches the documentation strings (the built-in short descriptions) of all variables and functions (not their names) for a match for topic, a regular expression. See section G.4 Apropos.

C-h i d m emacs RET i topic RET
This looks up topic in the indices of the Emacs on-line manual. If there are several matches, Emacs displays the first one. You can then press , to move to other matches, until you find what you are looking for.

C-h i d m emacs RET s topic RET
Similar, but searches for topic (which can be a regular expression) in the text of the manual rather than in its indices.

C-h F
This brings up the Emacs FAQ, where you can use the usual search commands (see section K. Searching and Replacement) to find the information.

C-h p
Finally, you can try looking up a suitable package using keywords pertinent to the feature you need. See section G.5 Keyword Search for Lisp Libraries.

To find the documentation of a key sequence or a menu item, type C-h C-k and then type that key sequence or select the menu item. This looks up the description of the command invoked by the key or the menu in the appropriate manual (not necessarily the Emacs manual). Likewise, use C-h C-f for reading documentation of a command.

G.1 Help Summary  Brief list of all Help commands.
G.2 Documentation for a Key  Asking what a key does in Emacs.
G.3 Help by Command or Variable Name  Asking about a command, variable or function name.
G.4 Apropos  Asking what pertains to a given topic.
G.5 Keyword Search for Lisp Libraries  Finding Lisp libraries by keywords (topics).
G.6 Help for International Language Support  Help relating to international language support.
G.7 Help Mode Commands  Special features of Help mode and Help buffers.
G.8 Other Help Commands  Other help commands.
G.9 Help on Active Text and Tooltips  Help on active text and tooltips (`balloon help')

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