narrowing buffer contents

'Narrowing' is yet another of those many useful emacs features that took me years to appreciate, mostly because I never really tried it. I may not be the only one, so here's a short introduction.

Narrowing is the concept of hiding the buffer contents except for what you are currently working on. This is useful when you don't want to be distracted, but also because it allows you to execute commands only on the narrowed part. You can narrow different things:

what's shownnamebinding
region (selection)narrow-to-regionC-x n n
current pagenarrow-to-pageC-x n p
functionnarrow-to-defunC-x n d
everythingwidenC-x n w

I never used narrowing for the current page, but apparently it's used by e.g. Info-Mode to show only one page.

That last one is pretty important to remember; it's not totally obvious how to get back to 'normal' mode where you can see everything. For this very reason ('where the #>*$@ did my text go'), always-helpful emacs by defaults disables narrow-to-region (but, for some reason, not the other ones). To enable it, put the following in your .emacs:

(put 'narrow-to-region 'disabled nil)

Also note that the mode-line will show 'Narrow' when you're in narrow mode, lest you forget.

When you're using org-mode there is an additional one you might want to memorize:

what's shownnamebinding
subtreeorg-narrow-to-subtreeC-x n s

I'm using that last one quite often; I have org-files where I keep meeting notes etc., and when in a certain meeting, I only want to see the notes for that specific meeting.

One bug? feature? of narrowing is that line-numbering is relative to the narrowed area rather than the full buffer. I'd prefer to have the real line numbers.