[R] help with help()

Marc Schwartz marc_schwartz at me.com
Thu Oct 28 20:32:54 CEST 2010

On Oct 28, 2010, at 1:20 PM, claudia tebaldi wrote:

> Hi all
> Just this morning I upgraded to R 2.12.0  (for Mac OS X 10.6.4).
> All went well until I needed to run a help() or help.search() in my session,
> which I'm running within Emacs (ESS 5.3.7).
> Say I need help with the command 'density'. When I type
> help(density)
> or
> ?density
> the ESS help buffer opens, it is titled *help[R](density)* but it contains
> only a couple of lines saying, e.g.,
> Error in help("density", htmlhelp = FALSE) :
>  unused argument(s) (htmlhelp = FALSE)
> This is a problem only running R within emacs. The command help() works fine
> if I run R at the command line in  a terminal window or if I use the
> stand-alone R application.
> Thank you in advance
> Claudia

Put the following in your ~/.emacs file:

(setq inferior-ess-r-help-command "help(\"%s\", help_type=\"html\")\n")

You might also want to update to ESS 5.11:


or consider using Vincent Goulet's pre-packaged Emacs 23/ESS install:



Marc Schwartz

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