Changing the default folder in Emacs


I am fairly new to Emacs and I have been trying to figure out how to change the default folder for C-x C-f on start-up. For instance when I first load Emacs and hit C-x C-f its default folder is C:\emacs\emacs-21.3\bin, but I would rather it be the desktop. I believe there is some way to customize the .emacs file to do this, but I am still unsure what that is.

Update: There are three solutions to the problem that I found to work, however I believe solution 3 is Windows only.

  • Solution 1: Add (cd "C:/Users/Name/Desktop") to the .emacs file

  • Solution 2: Add (setq default-directory "C:/Documents and Settings/USER_NAME/Desktop/") to the .emacs file

  • Solution 3: Right click the Emacs short cut, hit properties and change the start in field to the desired directory.

Best Solution

You didn't say so, but it sounds like you're starting Emacs from a Windows shortcut.

The directory that you see with c-x c-f is the cwd, in Emacs terms, the default-directory (a variable).

When you start Emacs using an MS Windows shortcut, the default-directory is initially the folder (directory) specified in the "Start In" field of the shortcut properties. Right click the shortcut, select Properties, and type the path to your desktop in the Start In field.

If you're using Emacs from the command line, default-directory starts as the directory where you started Emacs (the cwd).

This approach is better than editing your .emacs file, since it will allow you to have more than one shortcuts with more than one starting directory, and it lets you have the normal command line behavior of Emacs if you need it.

CWD = current working directory = PWD = present working directory. It makes a lot more sense at the command line than in a GUI.