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GNU Emacs Manual

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M.4 Reverting a Buffer

If you have made extensive changes to a file and then change your mind about them, you can get rid of them by reading in the previous version of the file. To do this, use M-x revert-buffer, which operates on the current buffer. Since reverting a buffer unintentionally could lose a lot of work, you must confirm this command with yes.

revert-buffer keeps point at the same distance (measured in characters) from the beginning of the file. If the file was edited only slightly, you will be at approximately the same piece of text after reverting as before. If you have made drastic changes, the same value of point in the old file may address a totally different piece of text.

Reverting marks the buffer as "not modified" until another change is made.

Some kinds of buffers whose contents reflect data bases other than files, such as Dired buffers, can also be reverted. For them, reverting means recalculating their contents from the appropriate data base. Buffers created explicitly with C-x b cannot be reverted; revert-buffer reports an error when asked to do so.

When you edit a file that changes automatically and frequently--for example, a log of output from a process that continues to run--it may be useful for Emacs to revert the file without querying you, whenever you visit the file again with C-x C-f.

To request this behavior, set the variable revert-without-query to a list of regular expressions. When a file name matches one of these regular expressions, find-file and revert-buffer will revert it automatically if it has changed--provided the buffer itself is not modified. (If you have edited the text, it would be wrong to discard your changes.)

You may find it useful to have Emacs revert files automatically when they change. Two minor modes are available to do this. In Global Auto-Revert mode, Emacs periodically checks all file buffers and reverts any when the corresponding file has changed. The local variant, Auto-Revert mode, applies only to buffers in which it was activated. Checking the files is done at intervals determined by the variable auto-revert-interval.


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