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In many text editors, when I want to open or save a file, a GUI dialog pops up that lets me navigate to the desired folder, and pick the file to open or save to.

As I try to learn Emacs 24 on Mac OS X 10.6.8, the only way I know of opening or saving files is by entering the appropriate shortcut (i.e. "C-x-C" to save, "C-x-C-f" to open), followed by the complete path to the target directory. When I create a new file in a new folder this way, I also have to enter the command "M-x make-directory RET RET" to creat the folder.

Is there a quicker way to do all of the above, especially the part where I have to enter the full path to a file?


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up vote 2 down vote accepted

ido-mode is one way. It rebinds C-x C-f to ido-find-file. ido-find-file does not provide a GUI file dialog, but it does completion, which you may find preferable. It also provides completion for other operations, such as ido-switch-buffer

I find that, in addition to the basics, C-j and C-f are quite important to know when using ido.

ido-mode can be used in conjuction with dired. You can use + to create a directory in dired-mode. When using ido, you can use C-j to enter dired. When using dired, you can use C-x C-f to enter ido.

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thanks for the C-j thing in ido :) – Sujoy Aug 29 '12 at 16:51
Just to note that C-j in one sense does two different things in ido: If the path ends in a "/", then it jumps into dired. Otherwise, it jumps to a non-dired buffer visiting the path. The latter is useful to avoid unwanted completions when creating a file. – Croad Langshan Nov 17 '12 at 16:45

On my machine, using File->Open shows a GUI dialog (but this may be platform- and build-dependent). This answer explains how to make C-x C-f use the GUI file dialog too.

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Emacs is very customizable and lots of people have written various packages to make file opening easier. See this page for packages to open files from anywhere regardless of their location.

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