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Next: , Previous: Key Help, Up: Help


11.3 Help by Command or Variable Name

C-h f (describe-function) reads the name of a Lisp function using the minibuffer, then displays that function's documentation string in a window. Since commands are Lisp functions, you can use this to get the documentation of a command that you know by name. For example,

     C-h f auto-fill-mode <RET>

displays the documentation of auto-fill-mode. This is the only way to get the documentation of a command that is not bound to any key (one which you would normally run using M-x).

C-h f is also useful for Lisp functions that you are planning to use in a Lisp program. For example, if you have just written the expression (make-vector len) and want to check that you are using make-vector properly, type C-h f make-vector <RET>. Because C-h f allows all function names, not just command names, you may find that some of your favorite completion abbreviations that work in M-x don't work in C-h f. An abbreviation may be unique among command names, yet fail to be unique when other function names are allowed.

The default function name for C-h f to describe, if you type just <RET>, is the name of the function called by the innermost Lisp expression in the buffer around point, provided that is a valid, defined Lisp function name. For example, if point is located following the text ‘(make-vector (car x)’, the innermost list containing point is the one that starts with ‘(make-vector’, so the default is to describe the function make-vector.

C-h f is often useful just to verify that you have the right spelling for the function name. If C-h f mentions a name from the buffer as the default, that name must be defined as a Lisp function. If that is all you want to know, just type C-g to cancel the C-h f command, then go on editing.

C-h v (describe-variable) is like C-h f but describes Lisp variables instead of Lisp functions. Its default is the Lisp symbol around or before point, but only if that is the name of a known Lisp variable. See Variables.

Help buffers describing Emacs variables and functions normally have hyperlinks to the definition, if you have the source files installed. (See Hyperlinking.) If you know Lisp (or C), this provides the ultimate documentation. If you don't know Lisp, you should learn it. If you are just using Emacs, treating Emacs as an object (file), then you don't really love it. For true intimacy with your editor, you need to read the source code.


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