Shell buffer use Shell mode, which defines several special keys attached to the C-c prefix. They are chosen to resemble the usual editing and job control characters present in shells that are not under Emacs, except that you must type C-c first. Here is a complete list of the special key bindings of Shell mode:
comint-send-input). When a line is copied, any text at the beginning of the line that matches the variable
shell-prompt-patternis left out; this variable's value should be a regexp string that matches the prompts that your shell uses.
comint-dynamic-complete). TAB also completes history references (see section Shell History References) and environment variable names. The variable
shell-completion-fignorespecifies a list of file name extensions to ignore in Shell mode completion. The default setting ignores file names ending in `~', `#' or `%'. Other related Comint modes use the variable
comint-delchar-or-maybe-eof). Typed at the end of the shell buffer, C-d sends EOF to the subshell. Typed at any other position in the buffer, C-d deletes a character as usual.
comint-kill-output). This is useful if a shell command spews out lots of output that just gets in the way.
shell-forward-command). The variable
shell-command-regexpspecifies how to recognize the end of a command.
(add-hook `comint-output-filter-functions `comint-watch-for-password-prompt)
(add-hook 'comint-output-filter-functions 'comint-strip-ctrl-m)
comint-buffer-maximum-size. Here's how to do this automatically each time you get output from the subshell:
(add-hook 'comint-output-filter-functions 'comint-truncate-buffer)
Shell mode also customizes the paragraph commands so that only shell prompts start new paragraphs. Thus, a paragraph consists of an input command plus the output that follows it in the buffer.
Shell mode is a derivative of Comint mode, a general purpose mode for communicating with interactive subprocesses. Most of the features of Shell mode actually come from Comint mode, as you can see from the command names listed above. The specialization of Shell mode in particular include the choice of regular expression for detecting prompts, the directory tracking feature, and a few user commands.
Other Emacs features that use variants of Comint mode include GUD (see section Running Debuggers Under Emacs) and M-x run-lisp (see section Running an External Lisp).
You can use M-x comint-run to execute any program of your choice in a subprocess using unmodified Comint mode--without the specializations of Shell mode.