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The Echo Area
The line at the bottom of the screen (below the mode line) is the
"echo area". Emacs uses this area to communicate with the user:
* "Echoing" means printing out the characters that the user types.
Emacs never echoes single-character commands. Multi-character
commands are echoed only if you pause while typing them: As soon
as you pause for more than one second in the middle of a command,
all the characters of the command so far are echoed. This is
intended to "prompt" you for the rest of the command. Once
echoing has started, the rest of the command is echoed immediately
as you type it. This behavior is designed to give confident users
fast response, while giving hesitant users maximum feedback. You
can change this behavior by setting a variable (Note: Display
* If you issue a command that cannot be executed, Emacs may print
an "error message" in the echo area. Error messages are
accompanied by a beep or by flashing the screen. Any input you
have typed ahead is thrown away when an error happens.
* Some commands print informative messages in the echo area. These
messages look similar to error messages, but are not announced
with a beep and do not throw away input. Sometimes a message
tells you what the command has done, when this is not obvious from
looking at the text being edited. Sometimes the sole purpose of a
command is to print a message giving you specific information.
For example, the command `C-x =' is used to print a message
describing the character position of point in the text and its
current column in the window. Commands that take a long time
often display messages ending in `...' while they are working, and
add `done' at the end when they are finished.
* The echo area is also used to display the "minibuffer", a window
that is used for reading arguments to commands, such as the name
of a file to be edited. When the minibuffer is in use, the echo
area displays with a prompt string that usually ends with a colon.
The cursor appears after the prompt. You can always get out of
the minibuffer by typing `C-g'. Note: Minibuffer.
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