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Mastering Emacs

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  155 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Learn Emacs from the ground up. In the Mastering Emacs ebook you will learn the answers to all the concepts that take weeks, months or even years to truly learn, all in one place.

“Emacs is such a hard editor to learn”

But why is it so hard to learn? As it turns out, it's almost always the same handful of issues that everyone faces.
If you have tried to learn Emacs you will
ebook, 280 pages
Published May 23rd 2015

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Emre Sevinç
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you work with all sorts of text files, be it programming language source code, documentation, to do lists, planning documents, or writing a novel, you'll either use various specialized tools, or you'll stick to a programmable text editor, and master it, with its various add-ons to handle the text related tasks. For some people, Emacs is one such tool, a text editor with a lot of built-in capabilities, and thousands of 'packages' that are add-ons to enhance the editor to suit many different ...more
Aleksandar Mićović
A fantastic introduction into Emacs, and the sheer power contained within.

It isn't so much the "tricks" learned that make the book great, but rather that it teaches you to find those "tricks" on your own. Emacs is a self-containing, self-documenting, hacker's dream, and after reading Petersen's book, I have the passport needed to blow past Emacs' border control. And that's without relying on my sidekick Google. And let me tell you something, I've fallen in love with the country of Emacs, and
Yuri Karabatov
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: process
Quite a good introduction which teaches you to where and how to find information when you need it.
Gaelan D'costa
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: editors
Very glad I read this book. I think the most important thing is that it gives you a _mental model_ for how to think in emacs, demystifying a lot of what is going on, how to think in terms of buffers and various structures and units emacs commands think in, how to go about looking for help or info within emacs itself.

I'm sure it didn't teach me all there is to know about emacs but it gave me places to anchor onto and habits to hone before I go off and free-form everything. It also gave me a great
Anton Antonov
Feb 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Powerful Emacs read regardless of your Emacs expertise.

As an Emacs (evil user, here), I gave the book a try without the Evil mode.

I moved my ".emacs.d" away and started anew. Needless to say, I forgot how Emacs looked in the defaults.

With a "learn commands first" and then "how to move" approach, I was taken by surprise.

Default Emacs was already confusing enough and the book helped that confusion increase.

It didn't help that the first few chapters don't have particular examples to work on. It may
Luis Ramirez
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I did so many attempts at learning emacs and fail miserably, mostly because there's a lot of documentation out in the internets and figured that's how I go about most techy stuff. Wrong! Emacs at least for me is such a different beast. Then one day a fellow Clojurian tweeted about Mickey Petersen book's being one of the best out there. Since lots of Clojurian people are avid emac users I gave it a shot.

The book starts with some good points about how emacs works, its philosophy and what not.
Nick  Craig-Wood
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A great way to learn emacs - even for experienced users.

I've been using emacs for 18 years or so. In that time emacs has changed a lot, so I bought this book to learn the new ways of doing things in emacs.

However I learnt a whole lot more from this book than just a few new keyboard shortcuts. This book does a really good job of trying to get you into the emacs way of doing things.

The best thing I learnt was moving by S-Expressions. Stuff I'd seen in the manual before but never really appreciated
Leandro López
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I should have read this book before. I should have read this book before. I should have read this book before.

This book is excellent. At first I thought it was "meh"…and then it blew my mind. I'm already going back to this book almost every week to re-learn and practice all that it taught me.

Definitely I should have read this book before.
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Really boring. The writing style was quite dry. It felt more like a reference manual. It's all good reading about this, but, at least for me (which may not hold true for you), hardly and of it sinks in.
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Nice didactic, it teaches you the emacs way: how real Emacsens use emacs and how to ask yourself if you're doing it right.
Julio Biason
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ibooks, it
Why is an avid VIM user -- to the point that I usually do some gatekeeping in which is the true editor for real programmers[1] -- reading a book about Emacs?

Well, for one, I wanted to learn how to use Org-Mode better, but with my usual EVIL bindings, its keybinds feel alien and did not make a lot of sense.

And, thus, I decided to read a book about Emacs, to gear me up for using Emacs without EVIL and make a more smooth passage to Org-Mode.

In that, I guess I can say that the book helped me,
Alexander Baygeldin
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's certainly one of the best introductions to Emacs for a beginner. However, as someone who has already used Emacs for some time and is relatively comfortable with it, I found very little new information in this book. I was hoping that this book would deepen my knowledge by explaining core concepts diving a little bit under the hood because it's absolutely essential to "master" anything, in my opinion. However, the book rather turned out to be a bunch of recipes and basic keybindings. ...more
Alexander Yakushev
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Initially, I wanted to give it 3 stars, but I reconsidered. "Mastering Emacs" is a great reference for many Emacs features, both widely known and quite obscure. As for the book part (especially, a book for beginners) - not so much. Sometimes it gets incoherent describing different customizations, pointing at caveats that are not relevant at the novice level. All in all, it's a solid book to read when you already have plenty experience with Emacs.
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found a lot small things that I don't know even they are very basic.

For example:

0. Emacs has a dedicated comment function which is bond to C-x C-;

1. C-h after press the pre-fix command

2. undo-try

3. M-m, go back to beg of a paragraph

4. subword mode

5. down and up a list

6. moving other windows while editing in a window

7. M-@ to mark a word

8. imenu

9. swapping two lines


I've a lot of tiny things.

Himanshu Mishra
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book! The author surely loves his editor and it shows. I spent around 4 hours over the course of a week reading this book and playing with emacs. I used GNU Emacs with Prelude[1] distribution.

After reading the book, I realized I had invested zero time in learning the editor(s) which I used frequently.

Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although I use Emacs daily for a few years now, I found some new things.

It's definitely a book for someone who wants to start with Emacs but I don't regret on reading it. There are some hidden gems one would hardly find without reading it.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fine intro to emacs. It didn’t sell me on the editor but I like the teach-you-how-to-fish approach the author takes.
Alamin Mahamud
not so great! as much as I expected. Talks about the basics.
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
Fantastic book on the best piece of software in existence. Might have led to a few hundred commits to my Emacs configurations.
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-technical
A good book about Emacs.
The information in it is definitely worth it for two reasons:
a) It managed to convince me that navigation in Emacs is not really lacking in comparison to vim
b) It really hammered in some very good features of Emacs that would have taken me a long time to figure out by myself
Eric Hopkins
Mar 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: programming
This is... okay. It would probably be a 4 star book if expectations where set better.

I picked this book up hoping it would help me do what it said on the tin, master Emacs. In reality this is more of an extremely thorough introduction. And it's a good introduction, one that would set someone off on the right foot, but that's also not mastery.

I already knew most of what was in the book at a functional level, day-to-day use level. I gained better insight on the "why" behind some parts of Emacs,
Sep 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: computers
If you've never taken part in the editor wars, or if you're a Vim user (traitor! jk!) who is willing to look around for alternatives, or maybe you just want to understand what's the fuss about Emacs, look no further, this the perfect mix of philosophy and actual usage of the most flexible editor ever written. I know I sound as though I'm biased, but take my word for it, once you get bit by the Emacs bug, it's pretty much impossible to let it go. You'll crave the freedom (remember Uncle Ben!).

Nikolay Hodyunya
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm user of emacs for 2 years now. But before reading this book I couldn't find enough time to master some essential parts of emacs. While reading, i kept asking myself "How could i live without it before? It's so simple and yet so useful". Mickey packed essential parts of emacs in such a great way, for the first time i could manage to read a technical book from cover to cover in 10 days. Many reviewers gave it 4 stars, and i can't find any good reason why. This was so simple and delightful i ...more
Horst Gutmann
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very nice walk though the concepts you should know when trying to work seriously with Emacs that should also offer something for people who are already experienced users. What came as an absolute surprise to me was the lack of any elisp introduction here ... which is a good thing ... there are other books that already cover that. Instead, the author focuses on what you can do with simple configuration flags and the default settings/bindings.
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-read
pretty good. two thing i got from it:

- learned how to use internal documentation. once you do it, you can teach yourself anything about emacs
- got a tour of most popular packages. since then i've been using many of them
Jul 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great introduction to Emacs as an editor and how to get beginners off the ground fast and effectively. The content is curated well and laid out in a logical manner. More experienced users won't have their minds blown but might find some interesting chapters skimming the book.
Juliusz Gonera
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Lots of well picked content here.

The book is about the existing base emacs features. Main focus is on editing text (duh) and movement keybindings and commands. It does not concern itself with elisp or writing emacs extensions.
João Eira
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
It would have been nigh impossible to get a handle on Emacs if I had tried it without reading this book. Now I fear I have dug myself a hole too cozy and warm to get myself out of. Emacs is weird. I like it.
Tobias Macey
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a great introduction to how to delve into the depths of Emacs. Equally useful for newcomers, intermediate and expert users. Highly recommend!
Suvash Thapaliya
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015, tools
a nice book with well chosen content to get going with Emacs and grok the main idea behind it.
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