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38.7 Operating on Files

This section describes the basic Dired commands to operate on one file or several files. All of these commands are capital letters; all of them use the minibuffer, either to read an argument or to ask for confirmation, before they act. All of them let you specify the files to manipulate in these ways:

Certain other Dired commands, such as ! and the ‘%’ commands, use the same conventions to decide which files to work on.

Commands which ask for a destination directory, such as those which copy and rename files or create links for them, try to guess the default target directory for the operation. Normally, they suggest the Dired buffer's default directory, but if the variable dired-dwim-target is non-nil, and if there is another Dired buffer displayed in the next window, that other buffer's directory is suggested instead.

Here are the file-manipulating Dired commands that operate on files.

C new <RET>

Copy the specified files (dired-do-copy). The argument new is the directory to copy into, or (if copying a single file) the new name. This is like the shell command cp.

If dired-copy-preserve-time is non-nil, then copying with this command preserves the modification time of the old file in the copy, like ‘cp -p’.

The variable dired-recursive-copies controls whether to copy directories recursively (like ‘cp -r’). The default is nil, which means that directories cannot be copied.

D

Delete the specified files (dired-do-delete). This is like the shell command rm.

Like the other commands in this section, this command operates on the marked files, or the next n files. By contrast, x (dired-do-flagged-delete) deletes all flagged files.

R new <RET>

Rename the specified files (dired-do-rename). If you rename a single file, the argument new is the new name of the file. If you rename several files, the argument new is the directory into which to move the files (this is like the shell command mv).

Dired automatically changes the visited file name of buffers associated with renamed files so that they refer to the new names.

H new <RET>

Make hard links to the specified files (dired-do-hardlink). This is like the shell command ln. The argument new is the directory to make the links in, or (if making just one link) the name to give the link.

S new <RET>

Make symbolic links to the specified files (dired-do-symlink). This is like ‘ln -s’. The argument new is the directory to make the links in, or (if making just one link) the name to give the link.

M modespec <RET>

Change the mode (also called “permission bits”) of the specified files (dired-do-chmod). This uses the chmod program, so modespec can be any argument that chmod can handle.

G newgroup <RET>

Change the group of the specified files to newgroup (dired-do-chgrp).

O newowner <RET>

Change the owner of the specified files to newowner (dired-do-chown). (On most systems, only the superuser can do this.)

The variable dired-chown-program specifies the name of the program to use to do the work (different systems put chown in different places).

T timestamp <RET>

Touch the specified files (dired-do-touch). This means updating their modification times to the present time. This is like the shell command touch.

P command <RET>

Print the specified files (dired-do-print). You must specify the command to print them with, but the minibuffer starts out with a suitable guess made using the variables lpr-command and lpr-switches (the same variables that lpr-buffer uses; see section Printing Hard Copies).

Z

Compress the specified files (dired-do-compress). If the file appears to be a compressed file already, uncompress it instead.

L

Load the specified Emacs Lisp files (dired-do-load). See section Libraries of Lisp Code for Emacs.

B

Byte compile the specified Emacs Lisp files (dired-do-byte-compile). See (elisp)Byte Compilation section `Byte Compilation' in The Emacs Lisp Reference Manual.

A regexp <RET>

Search all the specified files for the regular expression regexp (dired-do-search).

This command is a variant of tags-search. The search stops at the first match it finds; use M-, to resume the search and find the next match. See section Searching and Replacing with Tags Tables.

Q regexp <RET> to <RET>

Perform query-replace-regexp on each of the specified files, replacing matches for regexp with the string to (dired-do-query-replace-regexp).

This command is a variant of tags-query-replace. If you exit the query replace loop, you can use M-, to resume the scan and replace more matches. See section Searching and Replacing with Tags Tables.


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