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30.1 Entering Dired

To invoke Dired, type C-x d (dired). This reads a directory’s name using the minibuffer, and opens a Dired buffer listing the files in that directory. You can also supply a wildcard file name pattern as the minibuffer argument, in which case the Dired buffer lists all files matching that pattern. A wildcard may appear in the directory part as well. For instance,

C-x d  ~/foo/*.el  RET
C-x d ~/foo/*/*.el RET

The former lists all the files with extension ‘.el’ in directory ‘foo’. The latter lists the files with extension ‘.el’ in all the subdirectories of ‘foo’.

The usual history and completion commands can be used in the minibuffer; in particular, M-n puts the name of the visited file (if any) in the minibuffer (see Minibuffer History).

You can also invoke Dired by giving C-x C-f (find-file) a directory’s name.

The variable dired-listing-switches specifies the options to give to ls for listing the directory; this string must contain ‘-l’. If you use a prefix argument with the dired command, you can specify the ls switches with the minibuffer before you enter the directory specification. No matter how they are specified, the ls switches can include short options (that is, single characters) requiring no arguments, and long options (starting with ‘--’) whose arguments are specified with ‘=’.

If your ls program supports the ‘--dired’ option, Dired automatically passes it that option; this causes ls to emit special escape sequences for certain unusual file names, without which Dired will not be able to parse those names. The first time you run Dired in an Emacs session, it checks whether ls supports the ‘--dired’ option by calling it once with that option. If the exit code is 0, Dired will subsequently use the ‘--dired’ option; otherwise it will not. You can inhibit this check by customizing the variable dired-use-ls-dired. The value unspecified (the default) means to perform the check; any other non-nil value means to use the ‘--dired’ option; and nil means not to use the ‘--dired’ option.

On MS-Windows and MS-DOS systems, and also on some remote systems, Emacs emulates ls. See ls in Lisp, for options and peculiarities of this emulation.

To display the Dired buffer in another window, use C-x 4 d (dired-other-window). C-x 5 d (dired-other-frame) displays the Dired buffer in a separate frame.

Typing q (quit-window) buries the Dired buffer, and deletes its window if the window was created just for that buffer.