The Awesome of Web Browsing With Emacs

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Emacs is awesome. There is a kinda steep learning curve for new comers, which I think is the reason it’s not popular among most new-techies. But once you’ve got over that, it’s all hugs and kisses.

Emacs is addictive. You get addicted to it. Addicted to its power, to its flexibility, and if nothing else, it’s keyboard shortcuts. This addiction result in browser extensions like firemacs ), (you should definitely try it if you are an emacs user), which adds emacs shortcuts to Firefox (another awesome piece of technology).



But there is another level of addiction. When you want to do everything you do on computer from within Emacs. And Emacs won’t complaint, or get in your way. It’s a freaking operating system in itself. People are doing crazy things with it.

I am here to share my experience of using Emacs as my primary web browser for quite some time now.

For about a month, I am in a situation in which I am on very expensive (for my unemployed soul) Internet connection, and can’t afford to waste any bandwidth. Every MB matters. Firefox was consuming a lot of bandwidth for downloading all those images, js, and css I don’t care about most of the time. All I wanted from Internet was text. So I turned towards command line web-browsers. By instinct I looked for options in Emacs as a web browser. There are many. I chose emacs-w3m.

Now I am fond of it. Many good things I’ve got out of using emacs as my web browser.

It feels good

It feels great actually. I don’t know what it is there in it, but using Emacs feels like being at home. An easy and relaxed feeling. I am a knowledge hungry maniac, so the ability to browser information, and summarize and store it from within the same familiar ecosystem added another level of ease. This kind of mental ease really matter when throw all sort of new technologies on yourself everyday.

Distraction free

I feel it much more focused when reading text in Emacs. I realized it first time while reading emacs-lisp-intro, the most beautiful tutorial ever imo. I think there are two main reason for this.

First is the absence of all those fancy graphics (images, fonts, styles etc) that you awe on modern web pages. If you are actually after the information, believe me you won’t miss an ounce of them.

Second reason I think is the habit. My mind is trained to focus on code (that’s what we use Emacs for, remember?) in Emacs. It might be the environment that increase the focus level by magnitude when am reading something inside Emacs.

Ad blocking by default

That’s obvious. No Javascript, no images, No ads. No need to install ad-block plus and feel bad for publishers. Please note that this certainly does not mean that you can’t view images in Emacs. It’s an opt-in option in emacs-w3m (which of course can be toggled globally to display images by default).

It made me a Better Blogger

I like writing. I have been running this blog since 2011, but wrote like 10 posts in 2 years. It started changing when I started using org-mode in Emacs for taking notes about literally everything. And web browsing from within Emacs made it even easier to write. For a pro-level procrastinator like me, even a press of `alt+Tab` is enough of an excuse to not write.

I believe it is not pressing `alt+Tab`. It’s change of context that happen when switching windows (Firefox to Emacs). Many things flush out of head when I actually reach to Emacs from Firefox. It got resolved with using Emacs as web browser.

It also boosted my habit of note making. A simple `C-x 3` and `C-x o` made a lot of difference.

Actually I believe it’s org-mode which is responsible for my better blogging habits. Earlier I had to sit down and start writing a post; now I switch to my notes.org and search for which of the org nodes can be turned into blog posts. emacs-w3m sure increased the size of my notes file though.

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