Emacs tip: Prevent too many buffers in Dired

1 min read · Posted on: Dec 4, 2009 · Print this page

This is for the users of the Emacs editor

Dired mode is the default way of visiting directories on Emacs. Whenever you open a file using C-x C-f, you would see the current directory. If you chose to press Enter without entering a file name, you would visit the current directory in Dired mode.

I don’t use the Dired mode very much to browse directories. I would rather use Windows explorer or Nautilus. Don’t get me wrong, I do find Dired extremely useful to locate a file. But for every directory you visit it adds a new buffer. This quickly becomes very unmanageable.

However, I recently found out that you can make Dired re-use the same buffer if you press a (dired-find-alternate-file) rather than ‘Enter’ for visiting a directory in Dired mode. This is can be even used to open a file which results in the last Dired buffer being completely removed (alternatively you can use v or dired-view-file to view a read-only version of the file).

With this tip, I am finding myself using Emacs more for browsing around my file system.


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Arun Ravindran

Arun is the author of "Django Design Patterns and Best Practices". Avid open source enthusiast. Keen on Python. Loves to help people learn technology. Works as a product manager at Unisys. Find out more about Arun on the about page.

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