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There are two commands for exiting Emacs because there are two kinds
of exiting: "suspending" Emacs and "killing" Emacs.
"Suspending" means stopping Emacs temporarily and returning control
to its parent process (usually a shell), allowing you to resume editing
later in the same Emacs job, with the same files, same kill ring, same
undo history, and so on. This is the usual way to exit.
"Killing" Emacs means destroying the Emacs job. You can run Emacs
again later, but you will get a fresh Emacs; there is no way to resume
the same editing session after it has been killed.
Suspend Emacs (`suspend-emacs').
Kill Emacs (`save-buffers-kill-emacs').
To suspend Emacs, type `C-z' (`suspend-emacs'). This takes you back
to the shell from which you invoked Emacs. You can resume Emacs with
the shell command `%emacs' in most common shells.
On systems that do not permit programs to be suspended, `C-z' runs
an inferior shell that communicates directly with the terminal, and
Emacs waits until you exit the subshell. (The way to do that is
probably with `C-d' or `exit', but it depends on which shell you use.)
The only way on these systems to get back to the shell from which Emacs
was run (to log out, for example) is to kill Emacs.
When Emacs communicates directly with an X server and creates its own
dedicated X windows, `C-z' has a different meaning. Suspending an
applications that uses its own X windows is not meaningful or useful.
Instead, `C-z' runs the command `iconify-frame', which temporarily
closes up the selected Emacs frame. The way to get back to a shell
window is with the window manager.
To kill Emacs, type `C-x C-c' (`save-buffers-kill-emacs'). A
two-character key is used for this to make it harder to type. Unless a
numeric argument is used, this command first offers to save any modified
buffers. If you do not save them all, it asks for reconfirmation with
`yes' before killing Emacs, since any changes not saved will be lost
forever. Also, if any subprocesses are still running, `C-x C-c' asks
for confirmation about them, since killing Emacs will kill the
The operating system usually listens for certain special characters
whose meaning is to kill or suspend the program you are running. This
operating system feature is turned off while you are in Emacs. The
meanings of `C-z' and `C-x C-c' as keys in Emacs were inspired by the
use of `C-z' and `C-c' on several operating systems as the characters
for stopping or killing a program, but that is their only relationship
with the operating system. You can customize these keys to run any
commands (Note: Keymaps.).
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