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GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual

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37.2 Shell Arguments

Lisp programs sometimes need to run a shell and give it a command that contains file names that were specified by the user. These programs ought to be able to support any valid file name. But the shell gives special treatment to certain characters, and if these characters occur in the file name, they will confuse the shell. To handle these characters, use the function shell-quote-argument:

Function: shell-quote-argument argument
This function returns a string which represents, in shell syntax, an argument whose actual contents are argument. It should work reliably to concatenate the return value into a shell command and then pass it to a shell for execution.

Precisely what this function does depends on your operating system. The function is designed to work with the syntax of your system's standard shell; if you use an unusual shell, you will need to redefine this function.

 
;; This example shows the behavior on GNU and Unix systems.
(shell-quote-argument "foo > bar")
     => "foo\\ \\>\\ bar"

;; This example shows the behavior on MS-DOS and MS-Windows systems.
(shell-quote-argument "foo > bar")
     => "\"foo > bar\""

Here's an example of using shell-quote-argument to construct a shell command:

 
(concat "diff -c "
        (shell-quote-argument oldfile)
        " "
        (shell-quote-argument newfile))


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  Copyright 2003   by The Free Software Foundation     Updated Jun 2003