C.2 Initial Options
The initial options specify parameters for the Emacs session. This
section describes the more general initial options; some other options
specifically related to the X Window System appear in the following
Some initial options affect the loading of init files. The normal
actions of Emacs are to first load site-start.el if it exists,
then your own init file ~/.emacs if it exists, and finally
default.el if it exists. See Init File. Certain options
prevent loading of some of these files or substitute other files for
- ‘-t device’
- Use device as the device for terminal input and output.
‘--terminal’ implies ‘--no-window-system’.
- ‘-d display’
- Use the X Window System and use the display named display to open
the initial Emacs frame. See Display X, for more details.
- Don't communicate directly with the window system, disregarding the
DISPLAY environment variable even if it is set. This means that
Emacs uses the terminal from which it was launched for all its display
- Run Emacs in batch mode. Batch mode is used for running
programs written in Emacs Lisp from shell scripts, makefiles, and so
on. You should also use the ‘-l’ option or ‘-f’ option, to
invoke a Lisp program to do batch processing.
In batch mode, Emacs does not display the text being edited, and the
standard terminal interrupt characters such as C-z and C-c
continue to have their normal effect. The functions
print output to
stdout instead of the
echo area, while
message and error messages output to
stderr. Functions that would normally read from the minibuffer
take their input from
‘--batch’ implies ‘-q’ (do not load an init file), but
site-start.el is loaded nonetheless. It also causes Emacs to
exit after processing all the command options. In addition, it
disables auto-saving except in buffers for which it has been
- ‘--script file’
- Run Emacs in batch mode, like ‘--batch’, and then read and
execute the Lisp code in file.
The normal use of this option is in executable script files that run
Emacs. They can start with this text on the first line
which will invoke Emacs with ‘--script’ and supply the name of
the script file as file. Emacs Lisp then treats ‘#!’ as a
- Do not load your Emacs init file ~/.emacs, or default.el
either. Regardless of this switch, site-start.el is still loaded.
When invoked like this, Emacs does not allow saving options
changed with the M-x customize command and its variants.
See Easy Customization.
- Do not load site-start.el. The options ‘-q’, ‘-u’
and ‘--batch’ have no effect on the loading of this file—this
option and ‘-Q’ are the only options that block it.
- Start emacs with minimum customizations. This is like using ‘-q’
and ‘--no-site-file’, but also disables the startup screen.
- Do not display a splash screen on startup; this is equivalent to
setting the variable
inhibit-startup-message to non-
- Do not reload any saved desktop. See Saving Emacs Sessions.
- ‘-u user’
- Load user's Emacs init file ~user/.emacs instead of
- Enable the Emacs Lisp debugger for errors in the init file.
See Entering the Debugger on an Error.
- Do almost everything with single-byte buffers and strings.
All buffers and strings are unibyte unless you (or a Lisp program)
explicitly ask for a multibyte buffer or string. (Note that Emacs
always loads Lisp files in multibyte mode, even if ‘--unibyte’ is
specified; see Enabling Multibyte.) Setting the environment
variable EMACS_UNIBYTE has the same effect
(see General Variables).
- Inhibit the effect of EMACS_UNIBYTE, so that Emacs
uses multibyte characters by default, as usual.