Emacs provides an extensive online help system for helping you learn about various aspects of using Emacs. Emacspeak provides online help for its various extensions using this same help system. This chapter explains how to use the online help facilities in order to empower you in discovering powerful and versatile working techniques that will make you more and more productive in your day to day computing.
The online help options are accessed via the C-h
prefix key, which must be followed by an additional letter or
control character to designate the kind of help desired. For
example, C-h t
the Emacs tutorial in a new buffer; C-h i
info enters the Info documentation system, from
which you can read Texinfo manuals that have been installed on
your system, including the Emacs and Emacspeak documentation; and
describe-key provides a description
of the Emacs function which is bound to the next key that you
type. For learning about the various options that are available
via the C-h mechanism described above, view the online
help for command
help-for-help bound to C-h
C-h — using what has been described so far, you would
achieve this by pressing C-h k followed by C-h
Emacspeak users should note that online help is typically
displayed in a separate Emacs window. Where it makes sense to do
so, Emacspeak will automatically speak the displayed help. Once
you’ve asked for help, you can have the displayed documentation
as many times as you wish using Emacspeak command
emacspeak-speak-help bound to C-e h. If
you want to move through the displayed help a line at a time,
switch to the buffer where the help is displayed — the buffer is
Often, in adding an auditory interface to an Emacs extension, such as a web browser or mail reader, Emacspeak defines additional commands and key bindings which enhance the functionality of the spoken feedback provided by the application. This manual does not purport to document all such commands. It is important, therefore, when learning to use the various Emacs extensions which comprise the ‘audio desktop’ (see Audio Desktop) that you take advantage of online help to obtain details of any context-specific features provided by Emacspeak. The following two commands are of particular importance in this regard:
describe-modeexplains which major and minor modes are currently in effect, and lists the commands and key bindings associated with them.
describe-bindingslists all of the key bindings which are currently defined.
The importance of these help functions can be illustrated by
the Emacs/W3 web browser. When point is positioned inside a
table, certain key bindings are established with which you can
access Emacspeak commands that make it possible to read the rows
and columns of the table and explore its structure efficiently.
To get a description of these key bindings, you can use W3 to
visit the sample HTML file supplied as part of the Emacspeak
distribution, and, after having moved point onto the first row of
the table, issue the command C-h m
describe-mode to create a help buffer containing an
explanation of the features offered by W3 mode.
Emacspeak supplements the online help facilities available within Emacs by defining several commands of its own, as follows:
describe-emacspeakpresents a list of standard Emacspeak commands.
emacspeak-view-emacspeak-faqopens a new buffer containing the Emacspeak FAQ, a list of frequently asked questions about Emacspeak together with their answers.
emacspeak-learn-modeenters a mode in which the function of every key that you type is spoken; this mode can be terminated with the C-g