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The Emacs Screen
The terminology used here reflects the fact that Emacs was developed
on environments that had only one window, which took up the entire
In many environments, such as a tty terminal, an Emacs screen
literally takes up the whole screen. If you are running Emacs in
a multi-window system like the X Window System, the Emacs screen
takes up one X window. Note: Emacs under X, for more
No matter what environment you are running in, Emacs allows you to
look at several buffers at the same time by having several windows
be part of the screen. Often, the whole screen is taken up by
just one window, but you can split the screen into two or more
subwindows. If you are running Emacs under the X window system,
that means you can have several "Emacs windows" inside the X
window that contains the Emacs screen. You can even have multiple
screens in different X windows, each with their own set of
Each Emacs screen displays a variety of information:
* The biggest area usually displays the text you are editing. It may
consist of one window or of two or more windows if you need to
look at two buffers a the same time.
* Below each text window's last line is a "mode line" (Note: Mode
Line.), which describes what is going on in that window. The
mode line is in inverse video if the terminal supports that. If
there are several Emacs windows in one screen, each window has its
own mode line.
* At the bottom of each Emacs screen is the "echo area" or
"minibuffer window"(Note: Echo Area.). It is used by Emacs to
exchange information with the user. There is only one echo area
per Emacs screen.
* If you are running Lucid Emacs under the X Window System, a menu
bar at the top of the screen makes shortcuts to several of the
commands available (Note: Pull-down Menus.).
You can subdivide the Emacs screen into multiple text windows, and
use each window for a different file (Note: Windows.). Multiple Emacs
windows are tiled vertically on the Emacs screen. The upper Emacs
window is separated from the lower window by its mode line.
When there are multiple, tiled Emacs windows on a single Emacs
screen, the Emacs window receiving input from the keyboard has the
"keyboard focus" and is called the "selected window". The selected
window contains the cursor, which indicates the insertion point. If
you are working in an environment that permits multiple Emacs screens,
and you move the focus from one Emacs screen into another, the selected
window is the one that was last selected in that screen.
The same text can be displayed simultaneously in several Emacs
windows, which can be in different Emacs screens. If you alter the text
in an Emacs buffer by editing it in one Emacs window, the changes are
visible in all Emacs windows containing that buffer.
- The place in the text where editing commands operate.
- Echo Area
- Short messages appear at the bottom of the screen.
- Mode Line
- Interpreting the mode line.
- Emacs under X
- Some information on using Emacs under the X
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