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The database is a set of records, where each record corresponds to one person or ogranization. Each record has several fields. The built-in fields are:

The name of this person, or none if it's an organization.
A list of other names of this person.
The name of this person's organization, or none.
A list of this person's network addresses.
A list of postal (physical) addresses for this person.
A list of telephone numbers for this person.
Random commentary.

In addition to these fields, you may define your own field-types, with the bbdb-insert-new-field command. (See section BBDB Mode).

The database itself lives in a file which is named by the variable bbdb-file, defaulting to `~/.bbdb'. The first time you use one of the BBDB commands, this file is read into an emacs buffer, and remains there. As you make changes to the database, this buffer is changed as well, ensuring that if it is auto-saved, it will be saved in its most current state.

You can list the contents of the database with the command M-x bbdb. You will be prompted for a regular expression, and all records which match that regexp in the name, company, network address, or any notes fields will be displayed.

A narrower search may be made by using the commands bbdb-name, bbdb-company, bbdb-net, or bbdb-notes instead, which limit their searches to the name, company, email address, and notes fields, respectively. If these commands are given a prefix argument, the listing displayed will be one line per entry; otherwise, the full db entry will be shown on multiple lines.

The bbdb-notes command will prompt for the notes field to search (RET for all). In this way you can limit you searches to the contents of one particular user-defined notes field. (You can add user-defined fields with the bbdb-insert-new-field command; See section BBDB Mode.)

There are several ways to add new entries to the Insidious Big Brother Database; the most straightforward is to use M-x bbdb-create, which will prompt you for all relevant information. However, the easiest way is to allow them to be added automatically by one of the mail or news-reading interfaces (See section Interfaces).

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