Emacs kill (cut) commands

Emacs uses the term “kill” for what most people call “cut.” It keeps a “kill ring,” a history of kills, similar to what most people call a “clipboard.”

The most general way to cut a chunk of text is to select the text as a region and then use C-w. (You can select the region by using C-SPACE at one end and then moving the point (cursor) to the other end.) But there are more convenient commands for killing common units of text.

Beginning of End of
line C-u 0 C-k C-k
sentence C-x DEL M-k
word M-DEL M-d

Also, you can kill an entire line with C-SHIFT-DEL.

These commands are not as symmetric as the commands for cursor movement. They are like irregular verbs in the Emacs grammar. But they’re not entirely irregular.

The commands for kill to the end of a line and end of a sentence follow the usual pattern: control commands for lines, corresponding meta command for sentences.

The DEL key deletes backward a character. M-DEL kills backward a word, and C-x DEL kills backward a sentence.

C-d deletes the character in front of the cursor, and M-d kills the word in front of the cursor (or to the end of the word the cursor is in). As usual, the control command is for basic units (characters) and the meta command is for context-dependent units (words).

The command for killing to the beginning of a sentence is just odd. It’s the same command as killing to the end of a sentence, but with a zero argument.


Emacs resources

Getting started with Emacs on Windows
Emacs cursor movement
Emacs and Unicode
One program to rule them all