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33.6.4 Saving and Restoring the Match Data

When you call a function that may search, you may need to save and restore the match data around that call, if you want to preserve the match data from an earlier search for later use. Here is an example that shows the problem that arises if you fail to save the match data:

(re-search-forward "The \\(cat \\)")
     ⇒ 48
(foo)                   ; foo does more searching.
(match-end 0)
     ⇒ 61              ; Unexpected result—not 48!

You can save and restore the match data with save-match-data:

Macro: save-match-data body…

This macro executes body, saving and restoring the match data around it. The return value is the value of the last form in body.

You could use set-match-data together with match-data to imitate the effect of the special form save-match-data. Here is how:

(let ((data (match-data)))
      …   ; Ok to change the original match data.
    (set-match-data data)))

Emacs automatically saves and restores the match data when it runs process filter functions (see Filter Functions) and process sentinels (see Sentinels).