My emacs lists strange escape characters in shell buffers:

me@ubuntu:~//configuration.template/hooks$ ls
[0m[01;32mpost-commit[0m  [01;32mpost-commit~[0m  [01;32mpost-update[0m  
[01;32mpost-update~[0m  [01;32mpre-commit[0m  [01;32mpre-commit~[0m  [01;32mupdate[0m      update~

Anyone knows how I can fix that?

3 Answers 3


These characters are color-changing control sequences. These sequences don't work in emacs *shell* buffers: instead they are displayed almost directly.

You should change your shell startup file (probably ~/.bashrc) so that ls uses colors only in terminals that support them. In practice, this is likely to mean on every terminal type other than dumb (which is the terminal type provided in *shell* buffers). The terminal type is indicated in the TERM environment variable, so you can do something like this:

if [ "$TERM" != "dumb" ]; then
  alias ls='ls --color=auto'

"ansi-color-for-comint-mode" handles some color in shells. It is not perfect, but it helps. To turn it on, go to your shell and do [M-x]ansi-color-for-comint-mode-on[RET].


  • cool, this helps
    – zedoo
    Oct 23, 2010 at 13:16

On a related note, if you are seeing this problem with the emacs grep command enter this at the command's prompt:

grep --color=NEVER -nH -e "searchstring" *

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