When I talk with people about Emacs, they often complain about the missing project navigator.
Dired has a lot to offer that doesn't fit in just one article, so I decided to split it into several parts. I start by showing the navigation abilities of Dired.
Throughout the article I won't refer to keybindings but instead to the function names. At the end there will be a list of the functions including the corresponding default keybindings.
Here's how to use it
Dired is built into Emacs, so you don't have to install anything.
Enter Dired by calling the function
dired. The minibuffer opens and prompts you to choose a directory to open.
Example of an open Dired buffer:
/Users/samuel/Projects/basement: total used in directory 48 available 151364824 drwxr-xr-x 10 samuel staff 340 24 Aug 16:16 . drwxr-xr-x 37 samuel staff 1258 5 Okt 13:54 .. drwxr-xr-x 12 samuel staff 408 5 Okt 22:29 .git -rw-r--r-- 1 samuel staff 33 24 Aug 15:55 .gitignore -rw-r--r-- 1 samuel staff 92 24 Aug 15:55 Gemfile -rw-r--r-- 1 samuel staff 194 24 Aug 16:16 Gemfile.lock -rw-r--r-- 1 samuel staff 71 24 Aug 15:57 README.markdown -rw-r--r-- 1 samuel staff 28 24 Aug 15:55 Rakefile -rw-r--r-- 1 samuel staff 757 24 Aug 16:04 basement.gemspec drwxr-xr-x 4 samuel staff 136 24 Aug 15:55 lib
Dired creates a read-only buffer and lists all the files from your chosen directory.
In the Dired buffer you're able to move around with the usual
movement functions. Only the
previous-line functions are
redefined. Generally when you use these functions, the cursor will be
positioned at the beginning of the line, but in the Dired buffer it
goes to the beginning of the file name.
Next what you want to know is the
dired-goto-file function, which
prompts for a file name in the minibuffer. It moves the cursor in the
Dired buffer to the file you've chosen. Most of the time, you want to
visit the file of the currently selected line. In this case you use
dired-find-file which opens the file straight away without prompting
for a file name input.
Maybe you're asking yourself now, but what about
sub directories? You have seen how easy it is to navigate in a single
directory and visit specific files, maybe you found out that when you
dired-goto-file on a sub directory it will list the files from
this directory. But you want a solution with a better overview,
something that gives you the parent and the sub directory at one glance.
So lets check out what Dired has in store for that scenario.
As you know, Dired just displays one directory at the time. But with
dired-maybe-insert-subdir function, Dired takes the directory
on the current line and lists the content of the directory below
the parent directory in the current Dired buffer.
Let's see how this looks like:
/Users/samuel/Projects/basement: total used in directory 48 available 151364824 drwxr-xr-x 10 samuel staff 340 24 Aug 16:16 . drwxr-xr-x 37 samuel staff 1258 5 Okt 13:54 .. drwxr-xr-x 12 samuel staff 408 5 Okt 22:29 .git -rw-r--r-- 1 samuel staff 33 24 Aug 15:55 .gitignore -rw-r--r-- 1 samuel staff 92 24 Aug 15:55 Gemfile -rw-r--r-- 1 samuel staff 194 24 Aug 16:16 Gemfile.lock -rw-r--r-- 1 samuel staff 71 24 Aug 15:57 README.markdown -rw-r--r-- 1 samuel staff 28 24 Aug 15:55 Rakefile -rw-r--r-- 1 samuel staff 757 24 Aug 16:04 basement.gemspec drwxr-xr-x 4 samuel staff 136 24 Aug 15:55 lib /Users/samuel/Projects/basement/lib: total used in directory 8 available 151364824 drwxr-xr-x 4 samuel staff 136 24 Aug 15:55 . drwxr-xr-x 10 samuel staff 340 24 Aug 16:16 .. drwxr-xr-x 3 samuel staff 102 24 Aug 15:55 basement -rw-r--r-- 1 samuel staff 75 24 Aug 15:55 basement.rb
You see, the parent directory is on top and the sub directory you jumped
to is listed below. It's an easy and great overview. At this point
Dired gives you a few functions to move between the
dired-prev-subdir to move up in the directory tree and the
dired-next-subdir. Also useful is
dired-up-directory which runs Dired in the parent
directory. It searches in the current buffer for the parent directory or
in another buffer, or creates a new one if needed.
dired-listing-switches contains the options which are
ls is called. That means you could define how the command
ls should be called when you open a new directory in Dired.
(setq dired-listing-switches "-lRS")
- in the
dired-listing-switches variable is a must or Dired
wont work. I also recommend to add the
l option to the variable, as
by default just the single file and directory names would be listed.
Just fire up the
ls man page if you want to see all available
Functions and default keybindings
|dired||C-x d||Enter Dired.|
|dired-next-line||C-n / SPC / n||Move to the next line.|
|dired-previous-line||C-p / p / DEL||Move to the previous line. (DEL also unflags.)|
|dired-goto-file||j||Prompts for a filename and moves cursor to choosen file in the Dired buffer.|
|dired-find-file||f / e / RET||Open the file on the current line.|
|dired-next-subdir||C-M-n||Jumps to the next sub directory.|
|dired-prev-subdir||C-M-p||Jumps to the previous sub directory.|
|dired-prev-subdir||^||Run Dired on parent directory of current directory.|
|dired-maybe-insert-subdir||i||Opens the content of the directory on the current line in the Dired buffer.|
Dired has everything you need to navigate through your daily projects and a lot more. I just scratched the surface and recommend the official Emacs Dired manual for further information.blog comments powered by Disqus