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39.14 Scroll Bars

Normally the frame parameter vertical-scroll-bars controls whether the windows in the frame have vertical scroll bars, and whether they are on the left or right. The frame parameter scroll-bar-width specifies how wide they are (nil meaning the default).

The frame parameter horizontal-scroll-bars controls whether the windows in the frame have horizontal scroll bars. The frame parameter scroll-bar-height specifies how high they are (nil meaning the default). See Layout Parameters.

Horizontal scroll bars are not available on all platforms. The function horizontal-scroll-bars-available-p which takes no argument returns non-nil if they are available on your system.

The following three functions take as argument a live frame which defaults to the selected one.

function frame-current-scroll-bars \&optional frame

This function reports the scroll bar types for frame frame. The value is a cons cell (vertical-type . horizontal-type), where vertical-type is either left, right, or nil (which means no vertical scroll bar.) horizontal-type is either bottom or nil (which means no horizontal scroll bar).

function frame-scroll-bar-width \&optional frame

This function returns the width of vertical scroll bars of frame in pixels.

function frame-scroll-bar-height \&optional frame

This function returns the height of horizontal scroll bars of frame in pixels.

You can override the frame specific settings for individual windows by using the following function:

function set-window-scroll-bars window \&optional width vertical-type height horizontal-type persistent

This function sets the width and/or height and the types of scroll bars for window window. If window is nil, the selected window is used.

width specifies the width of the vertical scroll bar in pixels (nil means use the width specified for the frame). vertical-type specifies whether to have a vertical scroll bar and, if so, where. The possible values are left, right, t, which means to use the frame’s default, and nil for no vertical scroll bar.

height specifies the height of the horizontal scroll bar in pixels (nil means use the height specified for the frame). horizontal-type specifies whether to have a horizontal scroll bar. The possible values are bottom, t, which means to use the frame’s default, and nil for no horizontal scroll bar. Note that for a mini window the value t has the same meaning as nil, namely to not show a horizontal scroll bar. You have to explicitly specify bottom in order to show a horizontal scroll bar in a mini window.

If window is not large enough to accommodate a scroll bar of the desired dimension, this leaves the corresponding scroll bar unchanged.

The values specified here may be later overridden by invoking set-window-buffer (see Buffers and Windows) on window with its keep-margins argument nil or omitted. However, if the optional fifth argument persistent is non-nil and the other arguments are processed successfully, the values specified here unconditionally survive subsequent invocations of set-window-buffer.

Using the persistent argument of set-window-scroll-bars and set-window-fringes (see Fringe Size/Pos) you can reliably and permanently turn off scroll bars and/or fringes in any minibuffer window by adding the following snippet to your early init file (see Init File).

(add-hook 'after-make-frame-functions
(lambda (frame)
(set-window-scroll-bars
(minibuffer-window frame) 0 nil 0 nil t)
(set-window-fringes
(minibuffer-window frame) 0 0 nil t)))

The following four functions take as argument a live window which defaults to the selected one.

function window-scroll-bars \&optional window

This function returns a list of the form (width columns vertical-type height lines horizontal-type persistent).

The value width is the value that was specified for the width of the vertical scroll bar (which may be nil); columns is the (possibly rounded) number of columns that the vertical scroll bar actually occupies.

The value height is the value that was specified for the height of the horizontal scroll bar (which may be nil); lines is the (possibly rounded) number of lines that the horizontally scroll bar actually occupies.

The value of persistent is the value specified for window with the last successful invocation of set-window-scroll-bars, nil if there never was one.

function window-current-scroll-bars \&optional window

This function reports the scroll bar type for window window. The value is a cons cell (vertical-type . horizontal-type). Unlike window-scroll-bars, this reports the scroll bar type actually used, once frame defaults and scroll-bar-mode are taken into account.

function window-scroll-bar-width \&optional window

This function returns the width in pixels of window’s vertical scrollbar.

function window-scroll-bar-height \&optional window

This function returns the height in pixels of window’s horizontal scrollbar.

If you do not specify a window’s scroll bar settings via set-window-scroll-bars, the buffer-local variables vertical-scroll-bar, horizontal-scroll-bar, scroll-bar-width and scroll-bar-height in the buffer being displayed control the window’s scroll bars. The function set-window-buffer examines these variables. If you change them in a buffer that is already visible in a window, you can make the window take note of the new values by calling set-window-buffer specifying the same buffer that is already displayed.

You can control the appearance of scroll bars for a particular buffer by setting the following variables which automatically become buffer-local when set.

variable vertical-scroll-bar

This variable specifies the location of the vertical scroll bar. The possible values are left, right, t, which means to use the frame’s default, and nil for no scroll bar.

variable horizontal-scroll-bar

This variable specifies the location of the horizontal scroll bar. The possible values are bottom, t, which means to use the frame’s default, and nil for no scroll bar.

variable scroll-bar-width

This variable specifies the width of the buffer’s vertical scroll bars, measured in pixels. A value of nil means to use the value specified by the frame.

variable scroll-bar-height

This variable specifies the height of the buffer’s horizontal scroll bar, measured in pixels. A value of nil means to use the value specified by the frame.

Finally you can toggle the display of scroll bars on all frames by customizing the variables scroll-bar-mode and horizontal-scroll-bar-mode.

user option scroll-bar-mode

This variable controls whether and where to put vertical scroll bars in all frames. The possible values are nil for no scroll bars, left to put scroll bars on the left and right to put scroll bars on the right.

user option horizontal-scroll-bar-mode

This variable controls whether to display horizontal scroll bars on all frames.