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MG(1)                              BSD General Commands Manual                              MG(1)

     mg — emacs-like text editor

     mg [-n] [-f mode] [+number] [file ...]

     mg is intended to be a small, fast, and portable editor for people who can't (or don't want
     to) run emacs for one reason or another, or are not familiar with the vi(1) editor.  It is
     compatible with emacs because there shouldn't be any reason to learn more editor types than
     emacs or vi(1).

     The options are as follows:

             Go to the line specified by number (do not insert a space between the ‘+’ sign and
             the number).  If a negative number is specified, the line number counts backwards
             from the end of the file i.e. +-1 will be the last line of the file, +-2 will be
             second last, and so on.

     -f mode
             Run the mode command for all buffers created from arguments on the command line,
             including the scratch buffer and all files.

     -n      Turn off backup file generation.

     When a file is loaded into mg, it is stored in a buffer.  This buffer may be displayed on
     the screen in more than one window.  At present, windows may only be split horizontally, so
     each window is delineated by a modeline at the bottom.  If changes are made to a buffer, it
     will be reflected in all open windows.

     If a buffer name begins and ends with an asterisk, the buffer is considered throwaway; i.e.
     the user will not be prompted to save changes when the buffer is killed.

     The current cursor location in mg is called the point (or dot).  It is possible to define a
     window-specific region of text by setting a second location, called the mark.  The region is
     the text between point and mark inclusive.  Deleting the character at the mark position
     leaves the mark at the point of deletion.

     Note: The point and mark are window-specific in mg, not buffer-specific, as in other emacs

     Normal editing commands are very similar to GNU Emacs.  In the following examples, C-x means
     Control-x, and M-x means Meta-x, where the Meta key may be either a special key on the key‐
     board or the ALT key; otherwise ESC followed by the key X works as well.

     C-SPC       set-mark-command
     C-a         beginning-of-line
     C-b         backward-char
     C-d         delete-char
     C-e         end-of-line
     C-f         forward-char
     C-g         keyboard-quit
     C-h C-h     help-help
     C-h a       apropos
     C-h b       describe-bindings
     C-h c       describe-key-briefly
     C-j         newline-and-indent
     C-k         kill-line
     C-l         recenter
     RET         newline
     C-n         next-line
     C-o         open-line
     C-p         previous-line
     C-q         quoted-insert
     C-r         isearch-backward
     C-s         isearch-forward
     C-t         transpose-chars
     C-u         universal-argument
     C-v         scroll-up
     C-w         kill-region
     C-x C-b     list-buffers
     C-x C-c     save-buffers-kill-emacs
     C-x C-f     find-file
     C-x C-g     keyboard-quit
     C-x C-l     downcase-region
     C-x C-o     delete-blank-lines
     C-x C-q     toggle-read-only
     C-x C-r     find-file-read-only
     C-x C-s     save-buffer
     C-x C-u     upcase-region
     C-x C-v     find-alternate-file
     C-x C-w     write-file
     C-x C-x     exchange-point-and-mark
     C-x (       start-kbd-macro
     C-x )       end-kbd-macro
     C-x 0       delete-window
     C-x 1       delete-other-windows
     C-x 2       split-window-vertically
     C-x 4 C-f   find-file-other-window
     C-x 4 C-g   keyboard-quit
     C-x 4 b     switch-to-buffer-other-window
     C-x 4 f     find-file-other-window
     C-x =       what-cursor-position
     C-x ^       enlarge-window
     C-x `       next-error
     C-x b       switch-to-buffer
     C-x d       dired
     C-x e       call-last-kbd-macro
     C-x f       set-fill-column
     C-x g       goto-line
     C-x i       insert-file
     C-x k       kill-buffer
     C-x n       other-window
     C-x o       other-window
     C-x p       previous-window
     C-x s       save-some-buffers
     C-x u       undo
     C-y         yank
     C-z         suspend-emacs
     M-C-v       scroll-other-window
     M-SPC       just-one-space
     M-%         query-replace
     M-<         beginning-of-buffer
     M->         end-of-buffer
     M-\         delete-horizontal-space
     M-^         join-line
     M-b         backward-word
     M-c         capitalize-word
     M-d         kill-word
     M-f         forward-word
     M-l         downcase-word
     M-m         back-to-indentation
     M-q         fill-paragraph
     M-r         search-backward
     M-s         search-forward
     M-u         upcase-word
     M-v         scroll-down
     M-w         copy-region-as-kill
     M-x         execute-extended-command
     M-{         backward-paragraph
     M-}         forward-paragraph
     M-~         not-modified
     M-DEL       backward-kill-word
     C-_         undo
     )           blink-and-insert
     DEL         delete-backward-char

     For a complete description of mg commands, see MG COMMANDS.  To see the active keybindings
     at any time, type “M-x describe-bindings”.

     Commands are invoked by “M-x”, or by binding to a key.  Many commands take an optional
     numerical parameter, n.  This parameter is set either by M-<n> (where n is the numerical
     argument) before the command, or by one or more invocations of the universal argument, usu‐
     ally bound to C-U.  When invoked in this manner, the value of the numeric parameter to be
     passed is displayed in the minibuffer before the M-x.  One common use of the parameter is in
     mode toggles (e.g. make-backup-files).  If no parameter is supplied, the mode is toggled to
     its alternate state.  If a positive parameter is supplied, the mode is forced to on.  Other‐
     wise, it is forced to off.

            Help Apropos.  Prompt the user for a string, open the *help* buffer, and list all mg
            commands that contain that string.

            Register an auto-execute hook; that is, specify a filename pattern (conforming to the
            shell's filename globbing rules) and an associated function to execute when a file
            matching the specified pattern is read into a buffer.

            Toggle auto-fill mode (sometimes called mail-mode), where text inserted past the fill
            column is automatically wrapped to a new line.

            Toggle indent mode, where indentation is preserved after a newline.

            Move the dot to the first non-whitespace character on the current line.

            Move cursor backwards one character.

            Kill text backwards by n words.

            Move cursor backwards n paragraphs.  Paragraphs are delimited by <NL><NL> or
            <NL><TAB> or <NL><SPACE>.

            Move cursor backwards by the specified number of words.

            Move cursor to the top of the buffer.

            Move cursor to the beginning of the line.

            Self-insert a character, then search backwards and blink its matching delimeter.  For
            delimeters other than parenthesis, brackets, and braces, the character itself is used
            as its own match.

            Toggle bsmap mode, where DEL and c-H are swapped.

            Toggle a KNF-compliant mode for editing C program files.

            Invoke the keyboard macro.

            Capitalize n words; i.e. convert the first character of the word to upper case, and
            subsequent letters to lower case.

     cd     Change the global working directory.  See also global-wd-mode.

            Copy all of the characters in the region to the kill buffer, clearing the mark after‐
            wards.  This is a bit like a kill-region followed by a yank.

            Count the number of lines matching the supplied regular expression.

            Count the number of lines not matching the supplied regular expression.

            Prompts the user for a named keymap (mode), a key, and an mg command, then creates a
            keybinding in the appropriate map.

            Delete backwards n characters.  Like delete-char, this actually does a kill if pre‐
            sented with an argument.

            Delete blank lines around dot.  If dot is sitting on a blank line, this command
            deletes all the blank lines above and below the current line.  Otherwise, it deletes
            all of the blank lines after the current line.

            Delete n characters forward.  If any argument is present, it kills rather than
            deletes, saving the result in the kill buffer.

            Delete any whitespace around the dot.

            Delete leading whitespace on the current line.

            Delete trailing whitespace on the current line.

            Delete all lines after dot that contain a string matching the supplied regular

            Delete all lines after dot that contain a string matching the supplied regular

            Make the current window the only window visible on the screen.

            Delete current window.

            List all global and local keybindings, putting the result in the *help* buffer.

            Read a key from the keyboard, and look it up in the keymap.  Display the name of the
            function currently bound to the key.

            Process a numerical argument for keyboard-invoked functions.

            Set all characters in the region to lower case.

            Set characters to lower case, starting at the dot, and ending n words away.

            Return an mg version string.

            Stop defining a keyboard macro.

            Move cursor to the end of the buffer.

            Move cursor to the end of the line.

            Enlarge the current window by shrinking either the window above or below it.

            Evaluate the current buffer as a series of mg commands.  Useful for testing mg
            startup files.

            Get one line from the user, and run it.  Useful for testing expressions in mg startup

            Swap the values of "dot" and "mark" in the current window.  Return an error if no
            mark is set.

            Invoke an extended command; i.e. M-x.  Call the message line routine to read in the
            command name and apply autocompletion to it.  When it comes back, look the name up in
            the symbol table and run the command if it is found, passing arguments as necessary.
            Print an error if there is anything wrong.

            Justify a paragraph, wrapping text at the current fill column.

            Select a file for editing.  First check if the file can be found in another buffer;
            if it is there, just switch to that buffer.  If the file cannot be found, create a
            new buffer, read in the file from disk, and switch to the new buffer.

            Same as find-file, except the new buffer is set to read-only.

            Replace the current file with an alternate one.  Semantics for finding the replace‐
            ment file are the same as find-file, except the current buffer is killed before the
            switch.  If the kill fails, or is aborted, revert to the original file.

            Opens the specified file in a second buffer.  Splits the current window if necessary.

            Move cursor forwards (or backwards, if n is negative) n characters.  Returns an error
            if the end of buffer is reached.

            Move forward n paragraphs.  Paragraphs are delimited by <NL><NL> or <NL><TAB> or

            Move the cursor forward by the specified number of words.

            Bind a key in the global (fundamental) key map.

            Unbind a key from the global (fundamental) key map; i.e. set it to 'rescan'.

            Toggle global working-directory mode.  When enabled, mg defaults to opening files
            (and executing commands like compile and grep) relative to the global working direc‐
            tory.  When disabled, a working directory is set for each buffer.

            Go to a specific line.  If an argument is present, then it is the line number, else
            prompt for a line number to use.

            Prompts for one of (a)propos, (b)indings, des(c)ribe key briefly.

            Insert a string, mainly for use from macros.

            Insert the contents of another buffer at dot.

            Insert a file into the current buffer at dot.

            Insert the bound character with word wrap.  Check to see if we're past the fill col‐
            umn, and if so, justify this line.

            Use incremental searching, initially in the reverse direction.  isearch ignores any
            explicit arguments.  If invoked during macro definition or evaluation, the non-incre‐
            mental search-backward is invoked instead.

            Use incremental searching, initially in the forward direction.  isearch ignores any
            explicit arguments.  If invoked during macro definition or evaluation, the non-incre‐
            mental search-forward is invoked instead.

            Join the current line to the previous.  If called with an argument, join the next
            line to the current one.

            Delete any whitespace around dot, then insert a space.

            Abort the current action.

            Dispose of a buffer, by name.  If the buffer name does not start and end with an
            asterisk, prompt the user if the buffer has been changed.

            Kill line.  If called without an argument, it kills from dot to the end of the line,
            unless it is at the end of the line, when it kills the newline.  If called with an
            argument of 0, it kills from the start of the line to dot.  If called with a positive
            argument, it kills from dot forward over that number of newlines.  If called with a
            negative argument it kills any text before dot on the current line, then it kills
            back abs(n) lines.

            Delete n paragraphs starting with the current one.

            Kill the currently defined region.

            Delete forward n words.

            Toggle whether line and column numbers are displayed in the modeline.

            Display the list of available buffers.

     load   Prompt the user for a filename, and then execute commands from that file.

            Bind a key mapping in the local (topmost) mode.

            Unbind a key mapping in the local (topmost) mode.

            Toggle generation of backup files.

            When disabled, the meta key can be used to insert extended-ascii (8-bit) characters.
            When enabled, the meta key acts as usual.

            Process a negative argument for keyboard-invoked functions.

            Insert a newline into the current buffer.

            Insert a newline, then enough tabs and spaces to duplicate the indentation of the
            previous line.  Assumes tabs are every eight characters.

            Move forward n lines.

            Toggle notab mode.  In this mode, spaces are inserted rather than tabs.

            Turn off the modified flag in the current buffer.

            Open up some blank space.  Essentially, insert n newlines, then back up over them.

            The command to make the next (down the screen) window the current window.  There are
            no real errors, although the command does nothing if there is only 1 window on the

            Toggle overwrite mode, where typing in a buffer overwrites existing characters rather
            than inserting them.

            Inserts a prefix string before each line of a region.  The prefix string is settable
            by using 'set-prefix-string'.

            Move backwards n lines.

            This command makes the previous (up the screen) window the current window.  There are
            no errors, although the command does not do a lot if there is only 1 window.

            Suspend mg and switch to alternate screen, if available.

     pwd    Display current (global) working directory in the status area.

            Query Replace.  Search and replace strings selectively, prompting after each match.

            Replace string globally without individual prompting.

            Replace strings selectively.  Does a search and replace operation using regular
            expressions for both patterns.

            Insert the next character verbatim into the current buffer; i.e. ignore any function
            bound to that key.

            Perform a regular expression search again, using the same search string and direction
            as the last search command.

            Search backwards using a regular expression.  Get a search string from the user, and
            search, starting at dot and proceeding toward the front of the buffer.  If found, dot
            is left pointing at the first character of the pattern [the last character that was

            Search forward using a regular expression.  Get a search string from the user and
            search for it starting at dot.  If found, move dot to just after the matched charac‐
            ters.  display does all the hard stuff.  If not found, it just prints a message.

            Reposition dot in the current window.  By default, the dot is centered.  If given a
            positive argument (n), the display is repositioned to line n.  If n is negative, it
            is that line from the bottom.

            Refresh the display.  Recomputes all window sizes in case something has changed.

            Save the contents of the current buffer if it has been changed, optionally creating a
            backup copy.

            Offer to save modified buffers and quit mg.

            Look through the list of buffers, offering to save any buffer that has been changed.
            Buffers that are not associated with files (such as *scratch*, *grep*, *compile*) are

            Scroll backwards n pages.  A two-line overlap between pages is assumed.  If given a
            repeat argument, scrolls back lines, not pages.

            Scroll the display down n lines without changing the cursor position.

            Scroll the display n lines up without moving the cursor position.

            Scroll the next window in the window list window forward n pages.

            Scroll forward one page.  A two-line overlap between pages is assumed.  If given a
            repeat argument, scrolls back lines, not pages.

            Search again, using the same search string and direction as the last search command.

            Reverse search.  Get a search string from the user, and search, starting at dot and
            proceeding toward the front of the buffer.  If found, dot is left pointing at the
            first character of the pattern (the last character that was matched).

            Search forward.  Get a search string from the user, and search for it starting at
            dot.  If found, dot gets moved to just after the matched characters, if not found,
            print a message.

            Insert a character.

            Set case-fold searching, causing case nopt to matter in regular expression searches.
            This is the default.

            Append the supplied mode to the list of default modes used by subsequent buffer cre‐
            ation.  Built in modes include: fill, indent, overwrite, and notab.

            Prompt the user for a fill column.  Used by auto-fill-mode.

            Sets the mark in the current window to the current dot location.

            Sets the prefix string to be used by the 'prefix-region' command.

            Shrink current window by one line.  The window immediately below is expanded to pick
            up the slack.  If only one window is present, this command has no effect.

            Insert enough spaces to reach the next tab-stop position.  By default, tab-stops
            occur every 8 characters.

            Split the current window.  A window smaller than 3 lines cannot be split.

            Start defining a keyboard macro.  Macro definition is ended by invoking end-kbd-

            Suspend mg and switch back to alternate screen, if in use.

            Prompt and switch to a new buffer in the current window.

            Switch to buffer in another window.

            Toggle the read-only flag on the current buffer.

            Transpose the two characters on either side of dot.  If dot is at the end of the
            line, transpose the two characters before it.  Return with an error if dot is at the
            beginning of line; it seems to be a bit pointless to make this work.

     undo   Undo the most recent action.  If invoked again without an intervening command, move
            the undo pointer to the previous action and undo it.

            Add an undo boundary.  This is not usually done interactively.

            Toggle whether undo boundaries are generated.  Undo boundaries are often disabled
            before operations that should be considered atomically undoable.

            Toggle whether undo information is kept.

            Show the undo records for the current buffer in a new buffer.

            Repeat the next command 4 times.  Usually bound to C-u.  This command may be stacked;
            e.g. C-u C-u C-f moves the cursor forward 16 characters.

            Upper case region.  Change all of the lower case characters in the region to upper

            Move the cursor forward by the specified number of words.  As it moves, convert any
            characters to upper case.

            Display a bunch of useful information about the current location of dot.  The charac‐
            ter under the cursor (in octal), the current line, row, and column, and approximate
            position of the cursor in the file (as a percentage) is displayed.  The column posi‐
            tion assumes an infinite position display; it does not truncate just because the
            screen does.

            Ask for a file name and write the contents of the current buffer to that file.
            Update the remembered file name and clear the buffer changed flag.

     yank   Yank text from kill-buffer.  Unlike emacs, the mg kill buffer consists only of the
            most recent kill.  It is not a ring.

     There are two configuration files, .mg, and .mg-TERM.  Here, TERM represents the name of the
     terminal type; e.g., if the terminal type is set to “vt100”, mg will use .mg-vt100 as a
     startup file.  The terminal type startup file is used first.

     The startup file format is a list of commands, one per line, as used for interactive evalua‐
     tion.  Strings that are normally entered by the user at any subsequent prompts may be speci‐
     fied after the command name; e.g.:

           global-set-key ")" self-insert-command
           global-set-key "\^x\^f" find-file
           global-set-key "\e[Z" backward-char
           set-default-mode fill
           set-fill-column 72
           auto-execute *.c c-mode

     ~/.mg                       normal startup file
     ~/.mg-TERM                  terminal-specific startup file
     /usr/share/doc/mg/tutorial  concise tutorial


     Since it is written completely in C, there is currently no language in which extensions can
     be written; however, keys can be rebound and certain parameters can be changed in startup

     In order to use 8-bit characters (such as German umlauts), the Meta key needs to be disabled
     via the “meta-key-mode” command.

BSD                                     February 25, 2024                                     BSD

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