Get Organized with Emacs Org-mode

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Use Emacs to create a flexible plain-text organizer and personal productivity system.
Outline Structure

Org-mode is based on Emacs' outlinemode, but it makes working with outlines much easier. Place the cursor on a headline. Using the Tab key, you can expand the headline to show its branches and body. Using Shift-Tab does the same for the entire document (Figures 2–4).

Figure 2. Outline Overview

Figure 3. Outline Partially Expanded

Figure 4. Outline Fully Expanded

Org-mode provides useful keystrokes for modifying the outline structure. To promote a heading by one level, place the cursor on the heading, and use the keystroke M-left (meta and left arrow keys together). To demote a heading by one level use M-right. You can promote an entire subtree with M-Shift-left (Meta, Shift and left arrow keys together) and demote it with M-Shift-right.

Plain Lists

Sometimes you may need to add a plain list within the body of a subtree that is not part of the tree structure of the document. To add an unordered plain list, start the line with - or +. To make Org-mode add a - or + at the start of subsequent list items automatically, use M-Return to insert the next list item. To add an ordered list, start the line with 1., and to make Org-mode number subsequent items automatically, use M-Return to insert the next list item. Add an item in the middle of an ordered list, and Org-mode automatically renumbers the list items. You can mix ordered and unordered lists too. Want to add check boxes to a plain list? Start the list item with -[ ]. You can toggle the check box using C-c C-c, which displays the check box as [X] (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Plain Lists

Hyperlinks

Org-mode recognizes URLs and turns them into clickable links. If Emacs knows your default Web browser, clicking on URLs in Org-mode opens up the link in your default Web browser. Org-mode supports other types of external links, including links to files and images (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Hyperlinks

Tables

Org-mode includes a table editor that makes it possible to format tables in plain ASCII text. Using | as a column separator, Org-mode automatically reformats the plain-text table to realign columns or add new rows. Use Tab to move to the next cell and Shift-Tab to move to the previous cell. Org-mode helpfully right-aligns numbers. You can do spreadsheet calculations in these plain-text tables by inserting formulae within cells (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Plain-Text Tables

These are just a few examples of how Org-mode makes it easy to write and format in plain text. But Org-mode's most impressive features are those that enable you to organize and track tasks.

Tags

You can assign tags to any headline. Tags are simply letters or numbers preceded and followed by a colon. For example, :RED: could be a tag. You can associate multiple tags with a single headline as in :RED:GREEN:. Tags are added to the end of a headline. To add a tag to a headline, place the cursor on the headline and type C-c C-c. Org-mode will prompt you for a tag.

Org-mode creates a dynamic list of all tags in the file. If you already have tags in a file and want to tag a headline, Org-mode presents a list of already-entered tags. After typing C-c C-c on a headline, use the up and down arrow keys to see other tags in use.

Figure 8. Tags

Tags can be used to set up a system of labels to relate and group information spread out across an Org file. You could use tags to mark the activity type, such as :CODE: and :CALL:. If you are coordinating tasks with others, you could use colleagues' names as tags.

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I have been nurturing an

sasima's picture

I have been nurturing an ambition to be a freelance writer for quite few years and also looking for suitable software for the purpose, but haven't gotten any. It seems to me that my searching stopped with Emacs that versatile toolbox for working with text. Though I haven't tried yet, but I hope it would meet my requirement.Solid Wood Computer Desks

Hi, org-mode is included with

Anonymous's picture

Hi,

org-mode is included with emacs 22.1.1 for windows, but has to be activated. You'll find the org-mode manual including installation howto following these steps: emacs -> help -> more manuals -> all other manuals -> (Org Mode) node of the info tree.

Tks a lot

Anonymous's picture

I started learning Emacs just to use org-mode and your tutorial is the first I read, thanks a lot, I'm sure I'll use org mode, goodbye strange and uncompatible software, hello pure text. Tks a lot.
João Brito

Good info

Anonymous's picture

Hello! bkgfbea interesting bkgfbea site!

timestamp insertion

llahwehttam's picture

Timestamp insertion is done with "C-c .", not just "C-c".

Is this possible in windows

Mridul's picture

I downloaded GNU Emacs 22.1.1 binary for windows but i could not see "Org-mode" included . So it there any method I can install Org-mode in windows

Hi Mridul, just close Emacs,

Anonymous's picture

Hi Mridul,

just close Emacs, download the zipped archive from http://orgmode.org/index1.html, extract it and open the new folder. Then copy the files contained in its subfolder "lisp" into the "lisp" subfolder of your Emacs installation.

Follow the instructions at http://orgmode.org/manual/Activation.html - and start Emacs. Good luck, it worked for me... ;)

Martin

Create new org file

Anonymous's picture

Create new org file ('test.org' for example) and open it. You will be in org mode automatically...

Hi, org-mode is included with

Anonymous's picture

Hi,

org-mode is included with emacs 22.1.1 for windows, but has to be activated. You'll find the org-mode manual including installation howto following these steps: emacs -> help -> more manuals -> all other manuals -> (Org Mode) node of the info tree.