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You can quote an absolute file name to prevent special characters and syntax in it from having their special effects. The way to do this is to add ‘/:’ at the beginning.
For example, you can quote a local file name which appears remote, to prevent it from being treated as a remote file name. Thus, if you have a directory named /foo: and a file named bar in it, you can refer to that file in Emacs as ‘/:/foo:/bar’.
If you want to quote only special characters in the local part of a remote file name, you can quote just the local part. ‘/ssh:baz:/:/foo:/bar’ refers to the file bar of directory /foo: on the host baz.
‘/:’ can also prevent ‘~’ from being treated as a special character for a user's home directory. For example, /:/tmp/~hack refers to a file whose name is ~hack in directory /tmp.
Quoting with ‘/:’ is also a way to enter in the minibuffer a file name that contains ‘$’. In order for this to work, the ‘/:’ must be at the beginning of the minibuffer contents. (You can also double each ‘$’; see File Names with $.)
You can also quote wildcard characters with ‘/:’, for visiting. For example, /:/tmp/foo*bar visits the file /tmp/foo*bar.
Another method of getting the same result is to enter /tmp/foo[*]bar, which is a wildcard specification that matches only /tmp/foo*bar. However, in many cases there is no need to quote the wildcard characters because even unquoted they give the right result. For example, if the only file name in /tmp that starts with ‘foo’ and ends with ‘bar’ is foo*bar, then specifying /tmp/foo*bar will visit only /tmp/foo*bar.