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Next: , Up: Variables

57.3.1 Examining and Setting Variables

C-h v var <RET>
Display the value and documentation of variable var (describe-variable).
M-x set-variable <RET> var <RET> value <RET>
Change the value of variable var to value.

To examine the value of a single variable, use C-h v (describe-variable), which reads a variable name using the minibuffer, with completion. It displays both the value and the documentation of the variable. For example,

     C-h v fill-column <RET>

displays something like this:

     fill-column's value is 70
     *Column beyond which automatic line-wrapping should happen.
     Automatically becomes buffer-local when set in any fashion.

The star at the beginning of the documentation indicates that this variable is a user option. C-h v is not restricted to user options; it allows any variable name.

The most convenient way to set a specific user option variable is with M-x set-variable. This reads the variable name with the minibuffer (with completion), and then reads a Lisp expression for the new value using the minibuffer a second time (you can insert the old value into the minibuffer for editing via M-n). For example,

     M-x set-variable <RET> fill-column <RET> 75 <RET>

sets fill-column to 75.

M-x set-variable is limited to user option variables, but you can set any variable with a Lisp expression, using the function setq. Here is a setq expression to set fill-column:

     (setq fill-column 75)

To execute an expression like this one, go to the ‘*scratch*’ buffer, type in the expression, and then type C-j. See Lisp Interaction.

Setting variables, like all means of customizing Emacs except where otherwise stated, affects only the current Emacs session. The only way to alter the variable in future sessions is to put something in the ~/.emacs file to set it those sessions (see Init File).

  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire