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29 Frames

A frame is a screen object that contains one or more Emacs windows (see Windows). It is the kind of object called a “window" in the terminology of graphical environments; but we can’t call it a “window" here, because Emacs uses that word in a different way. In Emacs Lisp, a frame object is a Lisp object that represents a frame on the screen. See Frame Type.

A frame initially contains a single main window and/or a minibuffer window; you can subdivide the main window vertically or horizontally into smaller windows. See Splitting Windows.

A terminal is a display device capable of displaying one or more Emacs frames. In Emacs Lisp, a terminal object is a Lisp object that represents a terminal. See Terminal Type.

There are two classes of terminals: text terminals and graphical terminals. Text terminals are non-graphics-capable displays, including xterm and other terminal emulators. On a text terminal, each Emacs frame occupies the terminal’s entire screen; although you can create additional frames and switch between them, the terminal only shows one frame at a time. Graphical terminals, on the other hand, are managed by graphical display systems such as the X Window System, which allow Emacs to show multiple frames simultaneously on the same display.

On GNU and Unix systems, you can create additional frames on any available terminal, within a single Emacs session, regardless of whether Emacs was started on a text or graphical terminal. Emacs can display on both graphical and text terminals simultaneously. This comes in handy, for instance, when you connect to the same session from several remote locations. See Multiple Terminals.

function framep object

This predicate returns a non-nil value if object is a frame, and nil otherwise. For a frame, the value indicates which kind of display the frame uses:


The frame is displayed on a text terminal.


The frame is displayed on an X graphical terminal.


The frame is displayed on a MS-Windows graphical terminal.


The frame is displayed on a GNUstep or Macintosh Cocoa graphical terminal.


The frame is displayed on an MS-DOS terminal.

function frame-terminal \&optional frame

This function returns the terminal object that displays frame. If frame is nil or unspecified, it defaults to the selected frame.

function terminal-live-p object

This predicate returns a non-nil value if object is a terminal that is live (i.e., not deleted), and nil otherwise. For live terminals, the return value indicates what kind of frames are displayed on that terminal; the list of possible values is the same as for framep above.

On a graphical terminal we distinguish two types of frames: A normal top-level frame is a frame whose window-system window is a child of the window-system’s root window for that terminal. A child frame is a frame whose window-system window is the child of the window-system window of another Emacs frame. See Child Frames.

Creating Frames  Creating additional frames.
Multiple Terminals  Displaying on several different devices.
Frame Geometry  Geometric properties of frames.
Frame Parameters  Controlling frame size, position, font, etc.
Terminal Parameters  Parameters common for all frames on terminal.
Frame Titles  Automatic updating of frame titles.
Deleting Frames  Frames last until explicitly deleted.
Finding All Frames  How to examine all existing frames.
Minibuffers and Frames  How a frame finds the minibuffer to use.
Input Focus  Specifying the selected frame.
Visibility of Frames  Frames may be visible or invisible, or icons.
Raising and Lowering  Raising, Lowering and Restacking Frames.
Frame Configurations  Saving the state of all frames.
Child Frames  Making a frame the child of another.
Mouse Tracking  Getting events that say when the mouse moves.
Mouse Position  Asking where the mouse is, or moving it.
Pop-Up Menus  Displaying a menu for the user to select from.
Dialog Boxes  Displaying a box to ask yes or no.
Pointer Shape  Specifying the shape of the mouse pointer.
Window System Selections  Transferring text to and from other X clients.
Drag and Drop  Internals of Drag-and-Drop implementation.
Color Names  Getting the definitions of color names.
Text Terminal Colors  Defining colors for text terminals.
Resources  Getting resource values from the server.
Display Feature Testing  Determining the features of a terminal.