Emacs periodically saves all files that you are visiting; this is called auto-saving. Auto-saving prevents you from losing more than a limited amount of work if the system crashes. By default, auto-saves happen every 300 keystrokes, or after around 30 seconds of idle time. See Auto-Saving: Protection Against Disasters in The GNU Emacs Manual, for information on auto-save for users. Here we describe the functions used to implement auto-saving and the variables that control them.
This buffer-local variable is the name of the file used for auto-saving the current buffer. It is
nil if the buffer should not be auto-saved.
command auto-save-mode arg
This is the mode command for Auto Save mode, a buffer-local minor mode. When Auto Save mode is enabled, auto-saving is enabled in the buffer. The calling convention is the same as for other minor mode commands (see Minor Mode Conventions).
Unlike most minor modes, there is no
auto-save-mode variable. Auto Save mode is enabled if
buffer-auto-save-file-name is non-
buffer-saved-size (see below) is non-zero.
function auto-save-file-name-p filename
This function returns a non-
nil value if
filename is a string that could be the name of an auto-save file. It assumes the usual naming convention for auto-save files: a name that begins and ends with hash marks (‘
#’) is a possible auto-save file name. The argument
filename should not contain a directory part.
The standard definition of this function is as follows:
(defun auto-save-file-name-p (filename)
"Return non-nil if FILENAME can be yielded by..."
(string-match "^#.*#$" filename))
This function exists so that you can customize it if you wish to change the naming convention for auto-save files. If you redefine it, be sure to redefine the function
This function returns the file name to use for auto-saving the current buffer. This is just the file name with hash marks (‘
#’) prepended and appended to it. This function does not look at the variable
auto-save-visited-file-name (described below); callers of this function should check that variable first.
Here is a simplified version of the standard definition of this function:
(defun make-auto-save-file-name ()
"Return file name to use for auto-saves \
of current buffer.."
(concat "#%" (buffer-name) "#"))))
This exists as a separate function so that you can redefine it to customize the naming convention for auto-save files. Be sure to change
auto-save-file-name-p in a corresponding way.
user option auto-save-visited-file-name
If this variable is non-
nil, Emacs auto-saves buffers in the files they are visiting. That is, the auto-save is done in the same file that you are editing. Normally, this variable is
nil, so auto-save files have distinct names that are created by
When you change the value of this variable, the new value does not take effect in an existing buffer until the next time auto-save mode is reenabled in it. If auto-save mode is already enabled, auto-saves continue to go in the same file name until
auto-save-mode is called again.
Note that setting this variable to a non-
nil value does not change the fact that auto-saving is different from saving the buffer; e.g., the hooks described in Saving Buffers are not run when a buffer is auto-saved.
This function returns
t if the current buffer has been auto-saved since the last time it was read in or saved.
This function marks the current buffer as auto-saved. The buffer will not be auto-saved again until the buffer text is changed again. The function returns
user option auto-save-interval
The value of this variable specifies how often to do auto-saving, in terms of number of input events. Each time this many additional input events are read, Emacs does auto-saving for all buffers in which that is enabled. Setting this to zero disables autosaving based on the number of characters typed.
user option auto-save-timeout
The value of this variable is the number of seconds of idle time that should cause auto-saving. Each time the user pauses for this long, Emacs does auto-saving for all buffers in which that is enabled. (If the current buffer is large, the specified timeout is multiplied by a factor that increases as the size increases; for a million-byte buffer, the factor is almost 4.)
If the value is zero or
nil, then auto-saving is not done as a result of idleness, only after a certain number of input events as specified by
This normal hook is run whenever an auto-save is about to happen.
user option auto-save-default
If this variable is non-
nil, buffers that are visiting files have auto-saving enabled by default. Otherwise, they do not.
command do-auto-save \&optional no-message current-only
This function auto-saves all buffers that need to be auto-saved. It saves all buffers for which auto-saving is enabled and that have been changed since the previous auto-save.
If any buffers are auto-saved,
do-auto-save normally displays a message saying ‘
Auto-saving...’ in the echo area while auto-saving is going on. However, if
no-message is non-
nil, the message is inhibited.
current-only is non-
nil, only the current buffer is auto-saved.
function delete-auto-save-file-if-necessary \&optional force
This function deletes the current buffer’s auto-save file if
delete-auto-save-files is non-
nil. It is called every time a buffer is saved.
force is non-
nil, this function only deletes the file if it was written by the current Emacs session since the last true save.
user option delete-auto-save-files
This variable is used by the function
delete-auto-save-file-if-necessary. If it is non-
nil, Emacs deletes auto-save files when a true save is done (in the visited file). This saves disk space and unclutters your directory.
This function adjusts the current buffer’s auto-save file name if the visited file name has changed. It also renames an existing auto-save file, if it was made in the current Emacs session. If the visited file name has not changed, this function does nothing.
The value of this buffer-local variable is the length of the current buffer, when it was last read in, saved, or auto-saved. This is used to detect a substantial decrease in size, and turn off auto-saving in response.
If it is -1, that means auto-saving is temporarily shut off in this buffer due to a substantial decrease in size. Explicitly saving the buffer stores a positive value in this variable, thus reenabling auto-saving. Turning auto-save mode off or on also updates this variable, so that the substantial decrease in size is forgotten.
If it is -2, that means this buffer should disregard changes in buffer size; in particular, it should not shut off auto-saving temporarily due to changes in buffer size.
This variable (if non-
nil) specifies a file for recording the names of all the auto-save files. Each time Emacs does auto-saving, it writes two lines into this file for each buffer that has auto-saving enabled. The first line gives the name of the visited file (it’s empty if the buffer has none), and the second gives the name of the auto-save file.
When Emacs exits normally, it deletes this file; if Emacs crashes, you can look in the file to find all the auto-save files that might contain work that was otherwise lost. The
recover-session command uses this file to find them.
The default name for this file specifies your home directory and starts with ‘
.saves-’. It also contains the Emacs process ID and the host name.
user option auto-save-list-file-prefix
After Emacs reads your init file, it initializes
auto-save-list-file-name (if you have not already set it non-
nil) based on this prefix, adding the host name and process ID. If you set this to
nil in your init file, then Emacs does not initialize