11.5 Help Mode Commands

Help buffers have Help mode as their major mode. Help mode provides the same commands as View mode (see View Mode); for instance, SPC scrolls forward, and DEL or S-SPC scrolls backward. It also provides a few special commands:


Follow a cross reference at point (help-follow).


Move point forward to the next hyperlink (forward-button).


Move point back to the previous hyperlink (backward-button).


Follow a hyperlink that you click on.


Move forward and back between pages in the Help buffer.

C-c C-c

Show all documentation about the symbol at point (help-follow-symbol).

C-c C-f

Go forward in history of help commands (help-go-forward).

C-c C-b

Go back in history of help commands (help-go-back).


View the source of the current help topic (if any) (help-view-source).


Look up the current topic in the manual(s) (help-goto-info).


Look up the current topic in the Emacs Lisp manual (help-goto-lispref-info).


Customize the variable or the face (help-customize).

When a function name, variable name, or face name (see Text Faces) appears in the documentation in the help buffer, it is normally an underlined hyperlink. To view the associated documentation, move point there and type RET (help-follow), or click on the hyperlink with mouse-1 or mouse-2. Doing so replaces the contents of the help buffer; to retrace your steps, type C-c C-b or l (help-go-back). While retracing your steps, you can go forward by using C-c C-f or r (help-go-forward).

To move between hyperlinks in a help buffer, use TAB (forward-button) to move forward to the next hyperlink and S-TAB (backward-button) to move back to the previous hyperlink. These commands act cyclically; for instance, typing TAB at the last hyperlink moves back to the first hyperlink.

By default, many links in the help buffer are displayed surrounded by quote characters. If the help-clean-buttons user option is non-nil, these quote characters are removed from the buffer.

Help buffers produced by some Help commands (like C-h b, which shows a long list of key bindings) are divided into pages by the ‘^L’ character. In such buffers, the n (help-goto-next-page) command will take you to the next start of page, and the p (help-goto-previous-page) command will take you to the previous start of page. This way you can quickly navigate between the different kinds of documentation in a help buffer.

A help buffer can also contain hyperlinks to Info manuals, source code definitions, and URLs (web pages). The first two are opened in Emacs, and the third using a web browser via the browse-url command (see Following URLs).

To view all documentation about any symbol in the text, move point to the symbol and type C-c C-c (help-follow-symbol). This shows the documentation for all the meanings of the symbol—as a variable, as a function, and/or as a face.