27.11 Quitting and Aborting
Quit. Cancel running or partially typed command.
Abort innermost recursive editing level and cancel the command
which invoked it (`abort-recursive-edit').
Abort all recursive editing levels that are currently executing.
Cancel an already-executed command, usually (`undo').
There are two ways of cancelling commands which are not finished
executing: "quitting" with `C-g', and "aborting" with `C-]' or `M-x
top-level'. Quitting is cancelling a partially typed command or one
which is already running. Aborting is getting out of a recursive
editing level and cancelling the command that invoked the recursive
Quitting with `C-g' is used for getting rid of a partially typed
command or a numeric argument that you don't want. It also stops a
running command in the middle in a relatively safe way, so you can use
it if you accidentally start executing a command that takes a long
time. In particular, it is safe to quit out of killing; either your
text will ALL still be there, or it will ALL be in the kill ring (or
maybe both). Quitting an incremental search does special things
documented under searching; in general, it may take two successive
`C-g' characters to get out of a search. `C-g' works by setting the
variable `quit-flag' to `t' the instant `C-g' is typed; Emacs Lisp
checks this variable frequently and quits if it is non-`nil'. `C-g' is
only actually executed as a command if it is typed while Emacs is
waiting for input.
If you quit twice in a row before the first `C-g' is recognized, you
activate the "emergency escape" feature and return to the shell. Note:
You can use `C-]' (`abort-recursive-edit') to get out of a recursive
editing level and cancel the command which invoked it. Quitting with
`C-g' does not do this, and could not do this because it is used to
cancel a partially typed command within the recursive editing level.
Both operations are useful. For example, if you are in the Emacs
debugger (Note: Lisp Debug) and have typed `C-u 8' to enter a numeric
argument, you can cancel that argument with `C-g' and remain in the
The command `M-x top-level' is equivalent to "enough" `C-]' commands
to get you out of all the levels of recursive edits that you are in.
`C-]' only gets you out one level at a time, but `M-x top-level' goes
out all levels at once. Both `C-]' and `M-x top-level' are like all
other commands and unlike `C-g' in that they are effective only when
Emacs is ready for a command. `C-]' is an ordinary key and has its
meaning only because of its binding in the keymap. Note: Recursive
`C-x u' (`undo') is not strictly speaking a way of cancelling a
command, but you can think of it as cancelling a command already
finished executing. Note: Undo.
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