Almost. (Not sure why I couldn't find that in the documentation, so thanks for pointing it out.)

If I use (setq ess-history-file nil) in the .emacs, file, then it does indeed prevent the .Rhistory file from being written. But then, of course, for the >99% of the time when I'm not updating clinical data files, it prevents all other .Rhistoery files from being written.

So, I tried editing the script file so the first line starts with

-*- inferior-R-args: "--no-save" ess-history-file: nil -*-

And I confirmed that the value of the variable in the buffer containing the script is indeed 'nil'. (Some of you can already see where this is heading....) But, starting the inferior R process with M-x R from that buffer, the variable is NOT inherited. So, the *R* buffer still has ess-history-file set to the default value ".Rhistory" and it goes ahead and saves it anyway.

Is there anything I can put in the R script that will convince ESS to keep the ess-history-file set to 'nil' in the other (*R*) buffer?

Thanks again,

On 8/23/2016 2:45 PM, Enrico Schumann wrote:
On Tue, 23 Aug 2016, Kevin Coombes <> writes:


My question: Is it possible to prevent ESS from saving a ".Rhistory" file?

While I know this question has appeared in ess-help before (in
September 2009), I'd like to resurrect it.  Briefly, the previous
discussion pointed out that running R from the command line with
     R --no-save
will prevent R itself from even asking about writing a workspace
".RData" file, and will prevent it from creating a .Rhistory
file. However, using
     (setq inferior-R-args "--no-save")
prevents the RData file but *not* the Rhistory file. The explanation
had something to do with the (comint-write-input-ring).

I'd like to request that the behavior be changed, by explaining the
use-case that got me to this point.

The application is that I am the "honest broker" who holds the keys to
update a clinical data file. That is, I have a password-protected
Excel file that contains the keys mapping between HIPPA-safe
identifiers (like Sample013) to the protected health information of
either the medical record number or patient name. Then there is a
second password-protected Excel file that contains the updated
clinical information using unsafe identifiers. I have to open both
files, put the HIPAA-safe identifiers on the updated clinical
information, remove the protected information, and write the results.

For obvious reasons, I don't want to hard-code the password into the
R-script running in ESS.  So, I use the following lines to get the

cat("Password? ")
pwd <- readLines(file("stdin"), 1)

and go merrily on my way, reading the data, deleting traces that might
have existed in temporary files, and all should be good.

But it isn't.  Because ESS saves the .Rhistory file at the end, AND
the .Rhistory file contains the password that I typed. So now there is
a record of the password in a file left on my machine, and I have to
manually track down that file and delete it.

Oh, and I'd like a solution that works by using a local file variable
to set inferior-R-args (or something similar) in the script so that it
automatically prevents the history file from being written.

So, is my use case strong enough to inspire someone to figure out if
the current behavior of ESS can be modified? I would be very happy to
help test things....


Hi Kevin,

does setting

   (setq-default inferior-R-args "--no-restore-history --no-save -q")
   (setq ess-history-file nil)

in your .emacs file help?

See also .

Kind regards

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