[OS X Emacs] How to efficiently work with shells/term? drag & drop, history, several instances

Jonathan Groll lists at groll.co.za
Thu Sep 22 07:46:48 EDT 2011

On Thu, 22 Sep 2011 11:33:37 +0000, "Hofert  Jan Marius" <marius.hofert at math.ethz.ch> wrote:

> Dear all,
> One of the reasons why I started to work with emacs [two weeks ago] is
> that one does not have to open ten different programs which open at
> least ten different windows. If somehow possible, I now would like to
> work with shells/terminals started from within emacs [using the Mac's
> terminal would open another window... and has some other drawbacks].
> There are some things I (as a newbie) don't understand and I am wondering if these
> can be customized.
> In the Mac terminal, I can...
> (1) ... open several tabs, each running another shell
> (2) ... use the up-arrow key and the down-arrow key for accessing
> the history (does not require to type the command again)
> (3) ... drag & drop to change the directory quite fast: Write "cd " in the
> terminal, then select the folder you want to go to, click it and drag
> it to the terminal. Let it drop there. Then you get "cd /Users/..."
> and can easily change the
> directory.
> Now to my (short) experience with Aquamacs:
> (1) M-x shell opens a shell. However, doing M-x shell again doesn't
> open a second shell... it jumps back to the first one. I find this
> quite unintuitive but one gets used to that. I know I can get another
> shell with C-u M-x shell. Still, I don't know why there is a second command required to do the very same thing. I put in "(setq shell-multiple-shells t)" in Preferences.el since I found it somewhere (I guess the emacswiki), but that did not change anything: M-x shell does not open a second shell.
> (2) using the up-arrow in a (bash-)shell does not activate the
> history, but puts the cursor before "_bash-3.2$" (at the "_"
> position). I found out that C-<up> gives the history. Still, I find it
> quite annoying that the cursor can move to the left of the prompt
> "bash-3.2$" (in which situation might this be useful?). Going back to "bash-3.2$_" does not lead to a properly
> working shell, one has to go to "bash-3.2$ _" in order for the
> commands/completion etc. to work. 
> (3) One of my best friends, the "drag & drop" feature is not working
> :-( I have no idea how I can efficiently change directories without
> this feature. I do neither want to remember the directory path nor to
> use <tab>-completion (since many directories start with the same
> prefix [e.g., when they are automatically generated and
> lexicographically sorted]). What's the fastest way to cd into a deeply nested folder?
> I finally figured out that M-x solves problem (2). However, C-u M-x
> term did not open a second term. How can I open a second term? Still,
> (3) remains. And another problem appears with using term (instead of
> shell). I wanted to start R
> from the terminal. I put in "R" (as I normally do in a shell) and obtained:
> "Wrong type argument: characterp, return". Similar things happend for
> other commands, like ls or ssh. Why?

M-x rename-buffer when in *term*, and after that you can open another
term. It is worth learning dired for directory navigation from within

With respect to starting R see:

(And also note how to adjust the $PATH within Emacs:-
http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/AquamacsFAQ#toc2 )

jjg: Jonathan J. Groll : groll co za
has_one { :blog => "http://bloggroll.com" }
Sent from my computer device which runs on free software

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