For the sake of this article, let us pretend that you are an ardent
Org 1, 2 user. One fine day you learn from a friend that the version of
Org that comes with your
Emacs 25.2 is
8.2.10 and that in terms of features and stability, this version is light-years behind the latest
Org. You want the newest version badly, but with the most minimal of efforts. How do you go about it? You guessed it right. You will use the package manager.
Install one or more Package
Step 1: Start the Emacs Package Manager
Step 2: Wait! The list of available packages may not be complete yet
Note that the packages are sorted by their installation
Step 3: Optionally, order the package list by the package name
Step 4: Move the cursor to your desired package, say
org, and mark it for installation
You can mark more than one package at this step. For example, if you are interested in seeing line numbers while editing your files, you may want to mark the package named
Note that the marked packages are tagged with the letter
I, with the letter
I reminding you of the operation you intend, which is
Step 5: Once you have marked the packages, go ahead with the actual installation
Now, Emacs will download the package from the archive, in this case
GNU ELPA, compile it and set up all other things for you.
Step 6: Restart your Emacs
Before you restart your Emacs, you may want to check your
.emacs. Towards the very beginning of the file, you would see the following lines. It is these lines, that make the newly installed packages available to you for future sessions.
;; Added by Package.el. This must come before configurations of ;; installed packages. Don't delete this line. If you don't want it, ;; just comment it out by adding a semicolon to the start of the line. ;; You may delete these explanatory comments. (package-initialize)
Step 7: Verify that you are indeed using the recent version of the package
Use the command
locate-library to identify the version of a package.
For example, in my case
M-x locate-library RET org RET returns
Library is file ~/.emacs.d/elpa/org-9.1.13/org.elc. The version that you see in this message is in agreement with what I would expect from earlier steps.
Getting Help for a Package
Step 1: Click on a package name
Step 2: In the
*Help* window, click on any of the links or the buttons
Step 2.1: Where did the new package go and what are it’s component files
Step 2.2: What packages are similar to this package
In the previous steps, you installed
Org from the official Emacs repository. It is named
GNU ELPA, and stands for
GNU Emacs Lisp Package Archive3. As on July 2018, this archive has around 200 packages. Remember, you aren’t just limited to these packages or the official repository. The Emacs community maintains many more packages4 in very many repositories5, 6. The Emacs Package Manager can work with all of them. How you install packages from these repositories is a topic in it’s own right and you will learn about it in one of my future articles.