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Frames and X Windows

When using the X Window System, you can create multiple windows at the X level in a single Emacs session. Each X window that belongs to Emacs displays a frame which can contain one or several Emacs windows. A frame initially contains a single general-purpose Emacs window which you can subdivide vertically or horizontally into smaller windows. A frame normally contains its own echo area and minibuffer, but you can make frames that don't have these--they use the echo area and minibuffer of another frame.

Editing you do in one frame also affects the other frames. For instance, if you put text in the kill ring in one frame, you can yank it in another frame. If you exit Emacs through C-x C-c in one frame, it terminates all the frames. To delete just one frame, use C-x 5 0.

To avoid confusion, we reserve the word "window" for the subdivisions that Emacs implements, and never use it to refer to a frame.

Mouse Commands for Editing

The mouse commands for selecting and copying a region are mostly compatible with the xterm program. You can use the same mouse commands for copying between Emacs and other X client programs.

Mouse-1
Move point to where you click (mouse-set-point). This is normally the left button.
Drag-Mouse-1
Set the region to the text you select by dragging, and copy it to the kill ring (mouse-set-region). You can specify both ends of the region with this single command. If you move the mouse off the top or bottom of the window while dragging, the window scrolls at a steady rate until you move the mouse back into the window. This way, you can select regions that don't fit entirely on the screen. The number of lines scrolled per step depends on how far away from the window edge the mouse has gone; the variable mouse-scroll-min-lines specifies a minimum step size.
Mouse-2
Yank the last killed text, where you click (mouse-yank-at-click). This is normally the middle button.
Mouse-3
This command, mouse-save-then-kill, has several functions depending on where you click and the status of the region. The most basic case is when you click Mouse-1 in one place and then Mouse-3 in another. This selects the text between those two positions as the region. It also copies the new region to the kill ring, so that you can copy it to someplace else. If you click Mouse-1, scroll with the scroll bar, and then click Mouse-3, it remembers where point was before scrolling (where you put it with Mouse-1), and uses that position as the other end of the region. This is so that you can select a region that doesn't fit entirely on the screen. More generally, if you do not have a highlighted region, Mouse-3 selects the text between point and the click position as the region. It does this by setting the mark where point was, and moving point to where you click. If you have a highlighted region, or if the region was set just before by dragging button 1, Mouse-3 adjusts the nearer end of the region by moving it to where you click. The adjusted region's text also replaces the old region's text in the kill ring. If you originally specified the region using a double or triple Mouse-1, so that the region is defined to consist of entire words or lines, then adjusting the region with Mouse-3 also proceeds by entire words or lines. If you use Mouse-3 a second time consecutively, at the same place, that kills the region already selected.
Double-Mouse-1
This key sets the region around the word which you click on. If you click on a character with "symbol" syntax (such as underscore, in C mode), it sets the region around the symbol surrounding that character.
Double-Drag-Mouse-1
This key selects a region made up of the words that you drag across.
Triple-Mouse-1
This key sets the region around the line which you click on.
Triple-Drag-Mouse-1
This key selects a region made up of the lines that you drag across.

The simplest way to kill text with the mouse is to press Mouse-1 at one end, then press Mouse-3 twice at the other end. See section Deletion and Killing. To copy the text into the kill ring without deleting it from the buffer, press Mouse-3 just once--or just drag across the text with Mouse-1. Then you can copy it elsewhere by yanking it.

To yank the killed or copied text somewhere else, move the mouse there and press Mouse-2. See section Yanking. However, if mouse-yank-at-point is non-nil, Mouse-2 yanks at point. Then it does not matter precisely where you click; all that matters is which window you click on. The default value is nil. This variable also effects yanking the secondary selection.

To copy text to another X window, kill it or save it in the kill ring. Under X, this also sets the primary selection. Then use the "paste" or "yank" command of the program operating the other window to insert the text from the selection.

To copy text from another X window, use the "cut" or "copy" command of the program operating the other window, to select the text you want. Then yank it in Emacs with C-y or Mouse-2.

When Emacs puts text into the kill ring, or rotates text to the front of the kill ring, it sets the primary selection in the X server. This is how other X clients can access the text. Emacs also stores the text in the cut buffer, but only if the text is short enough (x-cut-buffer-max specifies the maximum number of characters); putting long strings in the cut buffer can be slow.

The commands to yank the first entry in the kill ring actually check first for a primary selection in another program; after that, they check for text in the cut buffer. If neither of those sources provides text to yank, the kill ring contents are used.

Secondary Selection

The secondary selection is another way of selecting text using X. It does not use point or the mark, so you can use it to kill text without setting point or the mark.

M-Drag-Mouse-1
Set the secondary selection, with one end at the place where you press down the button, and the other end at the place where you release it (mouse-set-secondary). The highlighting appears and changes as you drag. If you move the mouse off the top or bottom of the window while dragging, the window scrolls at a steady rate until you move the mouse back into the window. This way, you can mark regions that don't fit entirely on the screen.
M-Mouse-1
Set one endpoint for the secondary selection (mouse-start-secondary).
M-Mouse-3
Make a secondary selection, using the place specified with M-Mouse-1 as the other end (mouse-secondary-save-then-kill). A second click at the same place kills the secondary selection just made.
M-Mouse-2
Insert the secondary selection where you click (mouse-kill-secondary). This places point at the end of the yanked text.

Double or triple clicking of M-Mouse-1 operates on words and lines, much like Mouse-1.

If mouse-yank-at-point is non-nil, M-Mouse-2 yanks at point. Then it does not matter precisely where you click; all that matters is which window you click on. See section Mouse Commands for Editing.

Following References with the Mouse

Some Emacs buffers display lists of various sorts. These include lists of files, of buffers, of possible completions, of matches for a pattern, and so on.

Since yanking text into these buffers is not very useful, most of them define Mouse-2 specially, as a command to use or view the item you click on.

For example, if you click Mouse-2 on a file name in a Dired buffer, you visit the that file. If you click Mouse-2 on an error message in the `*Compilation*' buffer, you go to the source code for that error message. If you click Mouse-2 on a completion in the `*Completions*' buffer, you choose that completion.

You can usually tell when Mouse-2 has this special sort of meaning because the sensitive text highlights when you move the mouse over it.

Mouse Clicks for Menus

Mouse clicks modified with the CONTROL and SHIFT keys bring up menus.

C-Mouse-1
This menu is for selecting a buffer.
C-Mouse-2
This menu is for specifying faces and other text properties for editing formatted text. See section Editing Formatted Text.
C-Mouse-3
This menu is mode-specific. For most modes, this menu has the same items as all the mode-specific menu bar menus put together. Some modes may specify a different menu for this button.(2)
S-mouse-1
This menu is for specifying the frame's default font.

Mode Line Mouse Commands

You can use mouse clicks on window mode lines to select and manipulate windows.

Mouse-1
Mouse-1 on a mode line selects the window above. By dragging Mouse-1 on the mode line, you can move it, thus changing the height of the windows above and below.
Mouse-2
Mouse-2 on a mode line expands that window to fill its frame.
Mouse-3
Mouse-3 on a mode line deletes the window above.
C-Mouse-2
C-Mouse-2 on a mode line splits the window above horizontally, above the place in the mode line where you click.

C-Mouse-2 on a scroll bar splits the corresponding window vertically. See section Splitting Windows.

Creating Frames

The prefix key C-x 5 is analogous to C-x 4, with parallel subcommands. The difference is that C-x 5 commands create a new frame rather than just a new window in the selected frame (See section Displaying in Another Window). If an existing visible or iconified frame already displays the requested material, these commands use the existing frame, after raising or deiconifying as necessary.

The various C-x 5 commands differ in how they find or create the buffer to select:

C-x 5 2
Create a new frame (make-frame).
C-x 5 b bufname RET
Select buffer bufname in another window. This runs switch-to-buffer-other-frame.
C-x 5 f filename RET
Visit file filename and select its buffer in another frame. This runs find-file-other-frame. See section Visiting Files.
C-x 5 d directory RET
Select a Dired buffer for directory directory in another frame. This runs dired-other-frame. See section Dired, the Directory Editor.
C-x 5 m
Start composing a mail message in another frame. This runs mail-other-frame. It is the other-frame variant of C-x m. See section Sending Mail.
C-x 5 .
Find a tag in the current tag table in another frame. This runs find-tag-other-frame, the multiple-frame variant of M-.. See section Tags Tables.
C-x 5 r filename RET
Visit file filename read-only, and select its buffer in another frame. This runs find-file-read-only-other-frame. See section Visiting Files.

You can control the appearance of new frames you create by setting the frame parameters in default-frame-alist. You can use the variable initial-frame-alist to specify parameters that affect only the initial frame. See section `Initial Parameters' in The Emacs Lisp Manual, for more information.

Multiple Displays

A single Emacs can talk to more than one X Windows display. Initially, Emacs uses just one display--the one specified with the DISPLAY environment variable or with the `--display' option (see section Initial Options). To connect to another display, use the command make-frame-on-display:

M-x make-frame-on-display RET display RET
Create a new frame on display display.

A single X server can handle more than one screen. When you open frames on two screens belonging to one server, Emacs knows they share a single keyboard, and it treats all the commands arriving from these screens as a single stream of input.

When you open frames on different X servers, Emacs makes a separate input stream for each server. This way, two users can type simultaneously on the two displays, and Emacs will not garble their input. Each server also has its own selected frame. The commands you enter with a particular X server apply to that server's selected frame.

Despite these features, people using the same Emacs job from different displays can still interfere with each other if they are not careful. For example, if any one types C-x C-c, that exits the Emacs job for all of them!

Special Buffer Frames

You can make certain chosen buffers, for which Emacs normally creates a second window when you have just one window, appear in special frames of their own. To do this, set the variable special-display-buffer-names to a list of buffer names; any buffer whose name is in that list automatically gets a special frame, when an Emacs command wants to display it "in another window."

For example, if you set the variable this way,

(setq special-display-buffer-names
      '("*Completions*" "*grep*" "*tex-shell*"))

then completion lists, grep output and the TeX mode shell buffer get individual frames of their own. These frames, and the windows in them, are never automatically split or reused for any other buffers. They continue to show the buffers they were created for, unless you alter them by hand. Killing the special buffer deletes its frame automatically.

More generally, you can set special-display-regexps to a list of regular expressions; then a buffer gets its own frame if its name matches any of those regular expressions. (Once again, this applies only to buffers that normally get displayed for you in a separate window.)

The variable special-display-frame-alist specifies the frame parameters for these frames. It has a default value, so you don't need to set it.

For those who know Lisp, an element of special-display-buffer-names or special-display-regexps can also be a list. Then the first element is the buffer name or regular expression; the rest of the list specifies how to create the frame. It can be an association list specifying frame parameter values; these values take precedence over parameter values specified in special-display-frame-alist. Alternatively, it can have this form:

(function args...)

where function is a symbol. Then the frame is constructed by calling function; its first argument is the buffer, and its remaining arguments are args.

Setting Frame Parameters

This section describes commands for altering the display style and window management behavior of the selected frame.

M-x set-foreground-color RET color RET
Specify color color for the foreground of the selected frame.
M-x set-background-color RET color RET
Specify color color for the background of the selected frame. This changes the foreground color of the modeline face also, so that it remains in inverse video compared with the default.
M-x set-cursor-color RET color RET
Specify color color for the cursor of the selected frame.
M-x set-mouse-color RET color RET
Specify color color for the mouse cursor when it is over the selected frame.
M-x set-border-color RET color RET
Specify color color for the border of the selected frame.
M-x list-colors-display
Display the defined color names and show what the colors look like. This command is somewhat slow.
M-x auto-raise-mode
Toggle whether or not the selected frame should auto-raise. Auto-raise means that every time you move the mouse onto the frame, it raises the frame. Note that this auto-raise feature is implemented by Emacs itself. Some window managers also implement auto-raise. If you enable auto-raise for Emacs frames in your X window manager, it should work, but it is beyond Emacs's control and therefore auto-raise-mode has no effect on it.
M-x auto-lower-mode
Toggle whether or not the selected frame should auto-lower. Auto-lower means that every time you move the mouse off of the frame, the frame moves to the bottom of the stack of X windows. The command auto-lower-mode has no effect on auto-lower implemented by the X window manager. To control that, you must use the appropriate window manager features.
M-x set-default-font RET font RET
Specify font font as the default for the selected frame. See section Font Specification Options, for ways to list the available fonts on your system. You can also set a frame's default font through a pop-up menu. Press S-Mouse-1 to activate this menu.

In Emacs versions that use an X toolkit, the color-setting and font-setting functions don't affect menus and the menu bar, since they are displayed by their own widget classes. To change the appearance of the menus and menu bar, you must use X resources (see section X Resources). See section Window Color Options, regarding colors. See section Font Specification Options, regarding choice of font.

For information on frame parameters and customization, see section `Frame Parameters' in The Emacs Lisp Manual.

Scroll Bars

When using X, Emacs normally makes a scroll bar at the right of each Emacs window. The scroll bar runs the height of the window, and shows a moving rectangular inner box which represents the portion of the buffer currently displayed. The entire height of the scroll bar represents the entire length of the buffer.

You can use Mouse-2 (normally, the middle button) in the scroll bar to move or drag the inner box up and down. If you move it to the top of the scroll bar, you see the top of the buffer. If you move it to the bottom of the scroll bar, you see the bottom of the buffer.

The left and right buttons in the scroll bar scroll by controlled increments. Mouse-1 (normally, the left button) moves the line at the level where you click up to the top of the window. Mouse-3 (normally, the right button) moves the line at the top of the window down to the level where you click. By clicking repeatedly in the same place, you can scroll by the same distance over and over.

Aside from scrolling, you can also click C-Mouse-2 in the scroll bar to split a window vertically. The split occurs on the line where you click.

You can enable or disable Scroll Bar mode with the command M-x scroll-bar-mode. With no argument, it toggles the use of scroll bars. With an argument, it turns use of scroll bars on if and only if the argument is positive. This command applies to all frames, including frames yet to be created. You can use the X resource `verticalScrollBars' to control the initial setting of Scroll Bar mode. See section X Resources.

To enable or disable scroll bars for just the selected frame, use the M-x toggle-scroll-bar command.

Menu Bars

By default, each Emacs frame has a menu bar at the top which you can use to perform certain common operations. There's no need to describe them in detail here, as you can more easily see for yourself; also, we may change them and add to them in subsequent Emacs versions.

When you are using a window system, you can use the mouse to choose a command from the menu bar. On text-only terminals, you can use the menu bar by typing M-` (tmm-menubar). This enters a mode in which you can select a menu item from the keyboard. Either type the initial of the item you want, or use the left and right arrow keys to choose an item and use RET to finalize the choice.

Each of the operations in the menu bar is bound to an ordinary Emacs command which you can invoke equally well with M-x or with its own key bindings. The menu lists one equivalent key binding (if the command has any) at the right margin. To see the command's name and documentation, type C-h k and then select the menu bar item you are interested in.

You can turn display of menu bars on or off with M-x menu-bar-mode. With no argument, this command toggles Menu Bar mode, a minor mode. With an argument, the command turns Menu Bar mode on if the argument is positive, off if the argument is not positive. You can use the X resource `menuBarLines' to control the initial setting of Menu Bar mode. See section X Resources. Expert users often turn off the menu bar, especially on text-only terminals where this makes one additional line available for text.

Using Multiple Typefaces

When using Emacs with X, you can set up multiple styles of displaying characters. The aspects of style that you can control are the type font, the foreground color, the background color, and whether to underline. Emacs on MS-DOS supports faces partially by letting you control the foreground and background colors of each face (see section MS-DOS Issues).

The way you control display style is by defining named faces. Each face can specify a type font, a foreground color, a background color, and an underline flag; but it does not have to specify all of them.

The style of display used for a given character in the text is determined by combining several faces. Any aspect of the display style that isn't specified by overlays or text properties comes from the frame itself.

Enriched mode, the mode for editing formatted text, includes several commands and menus for specifying faces. See section Faces in Formatted Text, for how to specify the font for text in the buffer. See section Colors in Formatted Text, for how to specify the foreground and background color.

To see what faces are currently defined, and what they look like, type M-x list-faces-display. It's possible for a given face to look different in different frames; this command shows the appearance in the frame in which you type it. Here's a list of the standardly defined faces:

default
This face is used for ordinary text that doesn't specify any other face.
modeline
This face is used for mode lines. By default, it's set up as the inverse of the default face. See section Variables Controlling Display.
highlight
This face is used for highlighting portions of text, in various modes.
region
This face is used for displaying a selected region (when Transient Mark mode is enabled--see below).
secondary-selection
This face is used for displaying a secondary selection (see section Secondary Selection).
bold
This face uses a bold variant of the default font, if it has one.
italic
This face uses an italic variant of the default font, if it has one.
bold-italic
This face uses a bold italic variant of the default font, if it has one.
underline
This face underlines text.

When Transient Mark mode is enabled, the text of the region is highlighted when the mark is active. This uses the face named region; you can control the style of highlighting by changing the style of this face (see section Modifying Faces). See section Transient Mark Mode, for more information about Transient Mark mode and activation and deactivation of the mark.

One easy way to use faces is to turn on Font-Lock mode. This minor mode, which is always local to a particular buffer, arranges to choose faces according to the syntax of the text you are editing. It can recognize comments and strings in most languages; in several languages, it can also recognize and properly highlight various other important constructs--for example, names of functions being defined.

In Font-Lock mode, when you edit the text, the highlighting updates automatically in the line that you changed. Most changes don't affect the highlighting of subsequent lines, but occasionally they do. To rehighlight a range of lines, use the command C-M-g (font-lock-fontify-block).

In certain major modes, C-M-g refontifies the entire current function. (The variable font-lock-mark-block-function controls how to find the current function.) In other major modes, C-M-g refontifies 16 lines above and below point.

With a prefix argument n, C-M-g refontifies n lines above and below point, regardless of the mode.

Font-Lock mode is a minor mode. The command M-x font-lock-mode turns the mode on or off. The function turn-on-font-lock unconditionally enables Font-Lock mode. This is useful in mode-hook functions. For example, to enable Font-Lock mode whenever you edit a C file, you can do this:

(add-hook 'c-mode-hook 'turn-on-font-lock)

To turn on Font-Lock mode automatically in all modes which support it, use the function global-font-lock-mode, like this:

(global-font-lock-mode t)

To get the full benefit of Font-Lock mode, you need to choose a default font which has bold, italic, and bold-italic variants; or else you need to have a color or grayscale screen. The variable font-lock-display-type specifies whether Font-Lock mode should use font styles, colors, or shades of gray to distinguish the various kinds of text. Emacs chooses the default value according to the characteristics of your display.

The variable font-lock-maximum-decoration specifies the preferred level of fontification for modes that provide multiple levels. The normal default is 1; larger numbers request more fontification, and some modes support levels as high as 3. These variables can also specify different numbers for particular major modes; for example, to use level 3 for C/C++ modes, and the default level otherwise, use this:

(setq font-lock-maximum-decoration
      '((c-mode . 3) (c++-mode . 3)))

Fontification can be too slow for large buffers, so you can suppress it. The variable `font-lock-maximum-size' specifies a buffer size, beyond which buffer fontification is suppressed.

To make Font Lock mode practical for large buffers, you can use Fast Lock mode to avoid repetitive buffer fontification. Fast Lock mode saves the font information for a file in a separate cache file; each time you visit the file, it rereads the font information from the cache file instead of refontifying the text from scratch.

The command M-x fast-lock-mode turns Fast Lock mode on or off, according to the argument (with no argument, it toggles). The function turn-on-fast-lock unconditionally enables Fast Lock mode. Here is how you can arrange to enable Fast Lock mode whenever you use Font Lock mode:

(add-hook 'font-lock-mode-hook 'turn-on-fast-lock)

It is not worth while writing a cache file for small buffers. Therefore, the variable fast-lock-minimum-size specifies a minimum buffer size for caching font information.

You can print out the buffer with the highlighting that appears on your screen using the command ps-print-buffer-with-faces. See section Postscript Hardcopy.

Modifying Faces

Here are the commands for changing the font of a face:

M-x set-face-font RET face RET font RET
Change face face to use font font. See section Font Specification Options, for more information about font naming under X.
M-x make-face-bold RET face RET
Convert face face to use a bold version of its current font.
M-x make-face-italic RET face RET
Convert face face to use a italic version of its current font.
M-x make-face-bold-italic RET face RET
Convert face face to use a bold-italic version of its current font.
M-x make-face-unbold RET face RET
Convert face face to use a non-bold version of its current font.
M-x make-face-unitalic RET face RET
Convert face face to use a non-italic version of its current font.

Here are the commands for setting the colors and underline flag of a face:

M-x set-face-foreground RET face RET color RET
Use color color for the foreground of characters in face face.
M-x set-face-background RET face RET color RET
Use color color for the background of characters in face face. On a black-and-white display, the colors you can use for the background are `black', `white', `gray', `gray1' and `gray3'. Emacs supports the gray colors by using background stipple patterns instead of a color.
M-x set-face-stipple RET face RET pattern RET
Use stipple pattern pattern for the background of characters in face face.
M-x list-colors-display
Display the defined color names and show what the colors look like.
M-x set-face-underline-p RET face RET flag RET
Specify whether to underline characters in face face.
M-x invert-face RET face RET
Swap the foreground and background colors of face face.
M-x modify-face RET face RET attributes...
Change various attributes of face face. This command prompts for all the attribute of the face, one attribute at a time. For the color and stipple attributes, the attribute's current value is the default--type just RET if you don't want to change that attribute. Type `none' if you want to clear out the attribute.

You can also use X resources to specify attributes of particular faces. See section X Resources.

Miscellaneous X Window Features

The following commands let you create, delete and operate on frames:

C-z
To iconify the selected Emacs frame, type C-z (iconify-or-deiconify-frame). The normal meaning of C-z, to suspend Emacs, is not useful under a window system, so it has a different binding in that case. If you type this command on an Emacs frame's icon, it deiconifies the frame.
C-x 5 0
To delete the selected frame, type C-x 5 0 (delete-frame). This is not allowed if there is only one frame.
M-x transient-mark-mode
Under X Windows, when Transient Mark mode is enabled, Emacs highlights the region when the mark is active. This feature is the main motive for using Transient Mark mode. To toggle the state of this mode, use the command M-x transient-mark-mode. See section The Mark and the Region.


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