With the little I knew about emacs, I felt it had so much potential
to help me get stuff done but the learning curve was really too
much. With Mastering Emacs, I found a way to get up that curve in a
way that allowed me to get the benefit quickly whilst not cutting
corners in providing an in depth understanding. I would recommend it
to anyone looking to quickly get the most from emacs.
This text solves a hard problem with teaching yourself emacs: Where
should I start?
There are a lot of tutorials and manuals for emacs, so why choose
this book over them? Well, for starters, this is not a book about
emacs as a cold static application, but a book about how to experience
emacs as a living and dynamic system to achieve your goals, wether
they are coding, writing a novel, or just taking notes. This book is
not a mix of functions, commands and keybindings, but the condensed
life experience of someone that has dabbled into the jungle of emacs,
and comes back with dos, but no dont's, about how to better navigate
your way to your destination. Its value comes from that accumulated
experience, the fine grain explanation about the nuances of emacs, and
all the real life advices that will help you to start your journey,
whatever it may be.
FJC, Information Security Engineer and aspiring author
This book has helped me immensely!
I would argue that this book is a must have for any user of any
Emacsen - be they novice or learned "graybeard" alike!
I've used Emacs for decades, and am comfortable with the sure
knowledge that it has far more capabilities than I'll ever
understand. This book unlocked a bunch of new tools for me, and
clarified some muddied understandings. For a new user, it will provide
a critical speed boost to realizing the potential of this wonderfully
powerful, albeit quirky, creative environment.
Martin Fowler, Chief Scientist, Thoughtworks
I’ve been using Emacs since 1997. Even though I’m a long time user,
I still got a lot of value from reading “Mastering Emacs”. Mickey’s
summary of “What’s new in 28.1” was invaluable for me, enabling me to
test out many new features without having to do manual discovery -
that alone is worth the price of the book!
Beautifully written, concise, and fully up to date - a
must for any Emacs user.
My experience with Emacs is (probably) a pretty common one: I used it
at a surface level in college, moved on to IDEs/other editors, then
came back and became addicted. Mastering Emacs was an eye opening read
as it showed me the built-in functionality that I had missed when
first learning Emacs. From the absolute beginner to the seasoned user,
Mastering Emacs will teach you something and make you a better Emacs
user. Essential reading.
Mastering Emacs is by far the best resource to take your emacs
knowledge to the next level. Mickey writes in a way that is brief and
to the point, but still approachable for beginners. Even if you think
you know everything you'll ever need to know about emacs, you'll still
learn a lot from flipping through this book, and even more by going
through it closely. This book helped me develop a better appreciation
and understanding of the principles behind emacs, making it more of a
joy to use and build tools for.
Emacs is like an infinite-dimensional labyrinth of wonder. You can go
anywhere and be sure to find something you didn’t know, but piecing it
together to something coherent and practical is a different matter.
In his book “Mastering Emacs” Mickey Petersen guides us to both the
essential and less known parts, and shows you how you can make your
Emacs work even better for you, with guaranteed things to learn for
both beginners and seasoned veterans.
A highly recommended book for almost any Emacs-user!
I tried to learn Emacs after I started a LISP job but found it was slow & confusing. So I started a blank init.el & read Mastering Emacs over Christmas. It took a few months to get back up to speed but I've enjoyed years of editing since.
This book is a humble but powerful path for a newbie to build understanding of Emacs' concepts. Besides practical usage tips, it teaches important foundational knowledge & philosophy.
For anyone taking the Emacs plunge, this book is my GOTO
recommendation. It's an excel starting|lengthpoint that assumes no prior
knowledge & will empower you to customize your own workflow.
As a long time Emacs user (> 30 years), I found great tips and
insight...even on the basics! I highly recommend it to everyone.
Mickey's right. No matter your level, you'll get
something out of Mastering Emacs. Highly recommended to friends and
Mastering Emacs is the single best book on Emacs that I know of. It tells
you what you need to know, and what you didn't know you needed to know,
and it does it clearly and comprehensibly. I am now on version 4 of this
work which is updated regularly with each new major version. I find
something new to try every time I pick it up.
This is a good book for helping the beginner to get started, and a great
book for helping the more advanced user to discover new tools and
I found Master Emacs at the beginning of my Emacs journey. I'd read
the documentation, many blog posts, but nothing was helping me
actually understand the how & why of Emacs, and using it day-to-day,
until I read Mastering Emacs. Now, I use Emacs every day and am very
comfortable with it, thanks to this book
I've been using Emacs for more than 20 years and Mastering Emacs
opened my eyes to many capabilities I was unaware of or hadn't taken
the time to properly understand. It's a great resource for folks new
to Emacs and veterans alike, I highly recommend it if you have even a
casual interest in Emacs. It's well-written, updated regularly, and
full of explanations and examples of how to increase your mastery of
this powerful platform.
I think that Mastering Emacs is the easiest and clearest way to get
started with Emacs. It's a very easy read and is super well
structured. I read it cover to cover in one afternoon and couldn't put
it down (well aside from when I need to free both hands to try some
Mastering Emacs is a great book. I bought it to help with learning
org-mode (an Emacs package). The first-class Emacs docs show you
exactly what each command does. Mastering Emacs shows you how
commands fit together — it’s an excellent combination. I purchased
Mastering Emacs 5 years ago, and am still getting free updates with
each major release of Emacs. If you like the posts on
MasteringEmacs.org, then you’ll probably love the book.
Smart, Ph.D, Los Angeles, California
I started using Emacs a year and a half ago by taking the 'Emacs
pledge' ---no other editor until I would get comfortable with
Emacs. Your book was there from the start, and the tremendously
inspired chapter 2 'The Way of Emacs' alone is worth a whole
manual. It's what gave me a taste of what Emacs can be, before I could
experience it myself. The rest of the book is just the gold standard
for this kind of resources: a thoughtful selection of topics,
explained in a way that encourages the reader to explore on their
Whenever I read about Emacs, and typically this was related to
discussions involving other editors too, I thought it sounded so
incredibly daunting. I actually put off even looking into Emacs for
several years because of this. When this book came out I decided that
I would give it a shot, especially because this book looked to be a
way for even a complete novice to start learning. The thing that
really blew me away about this book is how patient Mickey is with
teaching how the systems work, why things work as they do, and how to
train yourself alongside the books guidance to become comfortable with
working in Emacs, even when you go in knowing absolutely nothing. I
highly recommend this book, especially for absolute Emacs beginners
like I was because it is one of the kindest introductions to a piece
of software I can imagine.
Emacs is the best and most flexible tool for personal
productivity. Mastering Emacs is the best book about learning
Emacs. Bar none.
Mastering Emacs is the best book about Emacs I know
of. It is well suited for both beginners and experienced users of
Emacs. Being a longtime Emacs developer, I still find new hints about
Emacs again and again. Recommended for everybody who wants to dive
deep into the Emacs universe.
Michael Albinus, Emacs Tramp
Even after more than 20 years of using Emacs, the book Mastering
Emacs gives me structured and new insights into the things I use
daily. The book, as well as the web site, are mandatory resources for
every active Emacs user.
Alan Pavičić, software developer
Here's the reason I value Mastering Emacs above all other Emacs
books and tutorials: when I re-read the book, I learn new
things. Always. Every time. That's because, as my own mastery of Emacs
has grown over the years. I'm able to understand discussions that were
over my head, or I didn't appreciate on the previous go-round.
Emacs is not just for computer programmers, something I am not. It's
great for business and project-management types, too. I admire
"Mastering Emacs" because it puts a lot of emphasis on wrangling the
keyboard and optimizing one’s personal editing workflow, what the book
calls "tempo." As someone who writes for a living, this has hugely
boosted my productivity at what I do all day long: type stuff.
Mickey updates the book with every new release of Emacs. In 2016, when
I bought the first edition, it covered what it called "the upcoming
next version of Emacs," which was Emacs 25. Now, six years later, the
fourth edition of "Mastering Emacs" is up to Emacs 28.
I’ve seen each update to "Mastering Emacs" grow in length and depth,
to stay abreast of the growth in Emacs itself. And each update is free
– which is amazing -- after your initial purchase. Speaking for me, I
can't think of any other investment where such a modest sum has
yielded such outstanding continuing returns.
I learned about "Mastering Emacs", the book, by finding Mickey's blog
through a Web search and studying the posts. So many things about
Emacs began to click. If you like the articles on the Mastering Emacs
website, you'll adore "Mastering Emacs" the book.
Tom Davey, New
York City, USA
I have been using Emacs intensely since 1990 and I have read much
about it. Nevertheless, even after 30 years of experience, Mickey's
book taught me many new and very useful things about Emacs. Mickey has
skillfully organized the contents of this book to describe the
concepts of Emacs in a compact form that elegantly takes the reader
from beginner to expert level. I highly recommend this book. It is a
pleasure to read. I believe it is the best book about Emacs you can
get your hands on!
Dr. Frank Ernst, Professor.
I have a humanities background and am anything but an accomplished
programmer. But I got into using Emacs as my main text editor (using
Markdown). *Mastering Emacs* was easy to follow, even as a beginner,
but it also covers an extensive array of advanced techniques and
tricks. If you want to understand Emacs but are feeling lost, this is
an excellent guide.
John Carter Wood
There is a real dearth of emacs writing at a level that informs the
reader about possibilities and provides a clear sense of the
"emacs-way" but does not bury and paralyze the reader in details of
customization and complexity. Your writing is the only source I've
discovered that is regularly successful in this goal. Thanks for the
The great thing about this book is that it guides you through the
whole Emacs universe like a good friend who is providing helpful
explanations and giving you new ideas. As an advanced Emacs user, I
always find it very helpful to (re-)read chapters of "Mastering
Emacs" in order to remember forgotten features or discover new
functionality that helps me organizing my digital workflows.
The ME book is an excellent book for grasping the general power that
Emcas editor brings to you. I really enjoyed all the tips and tricks,
so making it a soft path to me, a beginner-intermediate user. Thanks
for condensing all your knowledge into this book, truly appreciate
This is the best introduction to Emacs there is. It takes a strongly
pragmatic approach to learning Emacs, providing a much more solid
foundation for a user to expand from than Emacs' own tutorial, or any
set of blogs I've found. I personally used Emacs as my primary text
editor in the late 90s and 2000s, took most of a decade off, and then
picked it back up around 2020. I read Mastering Emacs and wished I had
had such a guide 20 years earlier; it made me a much stronger user
than I ever had been before. Thanks, Mickey!
If you have even a passing interest in Emacs, then there is no better
way to get started than this book. Covers all the essentials plus
Mastering Emacs fills an important gap left by the Emacs Manual.
The manual is amazing as a reference to read more about specific topics
but it's beyond intimidating to read as a whole. Mastering Emacs is
more of a guided experience containing a bit of everything to form
a solid foundation for further learning. Essentially years of Emacs
experience and "know-how" written down in a pleasant to read and easy to
I've been using emacs for almost 30 years now. Reading through
_Mastering Emacs_ I found some things I never knew, many things I had
forgotten, and even more that have been improved since I first
started. This is a great book for all emacs users, from just getting
started, to living in emacs for everything.
It's a valuable resource for me when I need to learn about
fundamental Emacs features. I'm far from being an expert for Emacs,
but I can use Emacs daily without going insane anymore. Your book is
doing a great job explaining the sometimes confusing Emacs concepts in
an easy way to understand them. I recommend your book to everybody who
wants to master Emacs in the long run.