You can undo all the recent changes in the buffer text, up to a
certain point. Each buffer records changes individually, and the undo
command always applies to the current buffer. Usually each editing
command makes a separate entry in the undo records, but some commands
query-replace make many entries, and very simple commands
such as self-inserting characters are often grouped to make undoing less
The command C-x u or C-_ is how you undo. The first time you give this command, it undoes the last change. Point moves back to where it was before the command that made the change.
Consecutive repetitions of C-_ or C-x u undo earlier and earlier changes, back to the limit of the undo information available. If all recorded changes have already been undone, the undo command prints an error message and does nothing.
Any command other than an undo command breaks the sequence of undo commands. Starting from that moment, the previous undo commands become ordinary changes that you can undo. Thus, to redo changes you have undone, type C-f or any other command that will harmlessly break the sequence of undoing, then type more undo commands.
If you notice that a buffer has been modified accidentally, the easiest way to recover is to type C-_ repeatedly until the stars disappear from the front of the mode line. At this time, all the modifications you made have been canceled. Whenever an undo command makes the stars disappear from the mode line, it means that the buffer contents are the same as they were when the file was last read in or saved.
If you do not remember whether you changed the buffer deliberately, type C-_ once. When you see the last change you made undone, you will see whether it was an intentional change. If it was an accident, leave it undone. If it was deliberate, redo the change as described above.
Not all buffers record undo information. Buffers whose names start with spaces don't; these buffers are used internally by Emacs and its extensions to hold text that users don't normally look at or edit.
You cannot undo mere cursor motion; only changes in the buffer contents save undo information. However, some cursor motion commands set the mark, so if you use these commands from time to time, you can move back to the neighborhoods you have moved through by popping the mark ring (see section The Mark Ring).
When the undo information for a buffer becomes too large, Emacs
discards the oldest undo information from time to time (during garbage
collection). You can specify how much undo information to keep by
setting two variables:
Their values are expressed in units of bytes of space.
undo-limit sets a soft limit: Emacs keeps undo
data for enough commands to reach this size, and perhaps exceed it, but
does not keep data for any earlier commands beyond that. Its default
value is 20000. The variable
undo-strong-limit sets a stricter
limit: the command which pushes the size past this amount is itself
forgotten. Its default value is 30000.
Regardless of the values of those variables, the most recent change is never discarded, so there is no danger that garbage collection occurring right after an unintentional large change might prevent you from undoing it.
The reason the
undo command has two keys, C-x u and
C-_, set up to run it is that it is worthy of a single-character
key, but on some keyboards it is not obvious how to type C-_.
C-x u is an alternative you can type straightforwardly on any