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38.1 Entering Dired

To invoke Dired, do C-x d or M-x dired. The command reads a directory name or wildcard file name pattern as a minibuffer argument to specify the files to list. C-x C-f given a directory name also invokes Dired. Where dired differs from list-directory is that it puts the buffer into Dired mode, so that the special commands of Dired are available.

The variable dired-listing-switches specifies the options to give to ls for listing the directory; this string must contain ‘-l’. If you use a numeric prefix argument with the dired command, you can specify the ls switches with the minibuffer before you enter the directory specification. No matter how they are specified, the ls switches can include short options (that is, single characters) requiring no arguments, and long options (starting with ‘--’) whose arguments are specified with ‘=’.

On MS-Windows and MS-DOS systems, Emacs emulates ls; see Emulation of ls on MS-Windows, for options and peculiarities of that emulation.

To display the Dired buffer in another window rather than in the selected window, use C-x 4 d (dired-other-window) instead of C-x d. C-x 5 d (dired-other-frame) uses a separate frame to display the Dired buffer.


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