Each window remembers in a list the buffers it has previously displayed, and the order in which these buffers were removed from it. This history is used, for example, by
replace-buffer-in-windows (see Buffers and Windows), and when quitting windows (see Quitting Windows). The list is automatically maintained by Emacs, but you can use the following functions to explicitly inspect or alter it:
function window-prev-buffers \&optional window
This function returns a list specifying the previous contents of
window. The optional argument
window should be a live window and defaults to the selected one.
Each list element has the form
(buffer window-start window-pos), where
buffer is a buffer previously shown in the window,
window-start is the window start position (see Window Start and End) when that buffer was last shown, and
window-pos is the point position (see Window Point) when that buffer was last shown in
The list is ordered so that earlier elements correspond to more recently-shown buffers, and the first element usually corresponds to the buffer most recently removed from the window.
function set-window-prev-buffers window prev-buffers
This function sets
window’s previous buffers to the value of
prev-buffers. The argument
window must be a live window and defaults to the selected one. The argument
prev-buffers should be a list of the same form as that returned by
In addition, each window maintains a list of next buffers, which is a list of buffers re-shown by
switch-to-prev-buffer (see below). This list is mainly used by
switch-to-next-buffer for choosing buffers to switch to.
function window-next-buffers \&optional window
This function returns the list of buffers recently re-shown in
window argument must denote a live window or
nil (meaning the selected window).
function set-window-next-buffers window next-buffers
This function sets the next buffer list of
window argument should be a live window or
nil (meaning the selected window). The argument
next-buffers should be a list of buffers.
The following commands can be used to cycle through the global buffer list, much like
unbury-buffer. However, they cycle according to the specified window’s history list, rather than the global buffer list. In addition, they restore window-specific window start and point positions, and may show a buffer even if it is already shown in another window. The
switch-to-prev-buffer command, in particular, is used by
quit-window to find a replacement buffer for a window.
command switch-to-prev-buffer \&optional window bury-or-kill
This command displays the previous buffer in
window. The argument
window should be a live window or
nil (meaning the selected window). If the optional argument
bury-or-kill is non-
nil, this means that the buffer currently shown in
window is about to be buried or killed and consequently should not be switched to in future invocations of this command.
The previous buffer is usually the buffer shown before the buffer currently shown in
window. However, a buffer that has been buried or killed, or has been already shown by a recent invocation of
switch-to-prev-buffer, does not qualify as previous buffer.
If repeated invocations of this command have already shown all buffers previously shown in
window, further invocations will show buffers from the buffer list of the frame
window appears on (see Buffer List).
switch-to-prev-buffer-skip described below can be used to inhibit switching to certain buffers, for example, to those already shown in another window. Also, if
window’s frame has a
buffer-predicate parameter (see Buffer Parameters), that predicate may inhibit switching to certain buffers.
command switch-to-next-buffer \&optional window
This command switches to the next buffer in
window, thus undoing the effect of the last
switch-to-prev-buffer command in
window. The argument
window must be a live window and defaults to the selected one.
If there is no recent invocation of
switch-to-prev-buffer that can be undone, this function tries to show a buffer from the buffer list of the frame
window appears on (see Buffer List).
switch-to-prev-buffer-skip and the
buffer-predicate (see Buffer Parameters) of
window’s frame affect this command as they do for
switch-to-next-buffer can switch to a buffer that is already shown in another window. The following option can be used to override this behavior.
user option switch-to-prev-buffer-skip
If this variable is
switch-to-prev-buffer may switch to any buffer, including those already shown in other windows.
If this variable is non-
switch-to-prev-buffer will refrain from switching to certain buffers. The following values can be used:
thismeans do not switch to a buffer shown on the frame that hosts the window
switch-to-prev-bufferis acting upon.
visiblemeans do not switch to a buffer shown on any visible frame.
- 0 (the number zero) means do not switch to a buffer shown on any visible or iconified frame.
tmeans do not switch to a buffer shown on any live frame.
- A function that takes three arguments—the
switch-to-prev-buffer, a buffer
switch-to-prev-bufferintends to switch to and the
switch-to-prev-buffer. If that function returns non-
switch-to-prev-bufferwill refrain from switching to the buffer specified by the second argument.
switch-to-next-buffer obeys this option in a similar way. If this option specifies a function,
switch-to-next-buffer will call that function with the third argument always
Note that since
switch-to-prev-buffer is called by
quit-restore-window as well, customizing this option may also affect the behavior of Emacs when a window is quit or a buffer gets buried or killed.
Note also that under certain circumstances
switch-to-next-buffer may ignore this option, for example, when there is only one buffer left these functions can switch to.