Skip to main content

38 Running Shell Commands from Emacs

Emacs has commands for passing single command lines to shell subprocesses, and for running a shell interactively with input and output to an Emacs buffer, and for running a shell in a terminal emulator window.

M-! cmd RET

Run the shell command cmd and display the output (shell-command).

M-| cmd RET

Run the shell command cmd with region contents as input; optionally replace the region with the output (shell-command-on-region).

M-& cmd RET

Run the shell command cmd asynchronously, and display the output (async-shell-command).

M-x shell

Run a subshell with input and output through an Emacs buffer. You can then give commands interactively.

M-x term

Run a subshell with input and output through an Emacs buffer. You can then give commands interactively. Full terminal emulation is available.

Whenever you specify a relative file name for an executable program (either in the cmd argument to one of the above commands, or in other contexts), Emacs searches for the program in the directories specified by the variable exec-path. The value of this variable must be a list of directories; the default value is initialized from the environment variable PATH when Emacs is started (see General Variables).

M-x eshell invokes a shell implemented entirely in Emacs. It is documented in its own manual. See Eshell in Eshell: The Emacs Shell.

Single Shell  How to run one shell command and return.
Interactive Shell  Permanent shell taking input via Emacs.
Shell Mode  Special Emacs commands used with permanent shell.
Shell Prompts  Two ways to recognize shell prompts.
History  Repeating previous commands in a shell buffer.
Directory Tracking  Keeping track when the subshell changes directory.
Options  Options for customizing Shell mode.
Terminal emulator  An Emacs window as a terminal emulator.
Term Mode  Special Emacs commands used in Term mode.
Remote Host  Connecting to another computer.
Serial Terminal  Connecting to a serial port.