Emacs: Effective Windows Management

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Full Screen Emacs Workflow

recently, Jon Snader (aka jcs) mentioned ace-windows mode, see: http://irreal.org/blog/?p=2699.

The ace windows mode lets you quickly move cursor to the split pane you want. When invoked, it displays a letter in each split pane, and pressing that key moves you into that pane.

xah emacs screenshot 2014-03-06
full screen emacs with split panes.


the full-screen workflow is not good because:

there's packages that help you keep your split panes. [see Emacs: Save Split Windows Configuration]

I'd like to suggest an alternative workflow.

Multi-Window Emacs Workflow

xah linux desktop 2014-03-05
3 emacs windows among other app's windows.

when you start emacs, create 2 windows that don't overlap side-by-side.

In this workflow, you control windows, not split-panes.

it's better because:

for this workflow to work efficiently, you must also:

① define a system-wide easy key to switch to emacs, such as 【F9】. [see How to Set Key to Switch to Emacs]

② define a easy key such as【F8】 to switch among emacs's windows. That is, bind a key to the command other-frame. [see Emacs: How to Define Keys]

IMPORTANT: these 2 keys must be easy keys, because you'll need to call them frequently.

once you have these keys, you can easily switch to any app or any specific window.

your windows are always “split” the way you want, and nothing's going to “unsplit” them or change their size, unless when you want to. Never worry about managing split-panes whenever emacs pops up a pane. [see Emacs: Save Split Windows Configuration]

but also, now you can constantly split/unsplit a window at will, close any split emacs pops up. Using split to view different areas of a file, or use split to keep cursor position. I split/unsplit about every few minutes. Note: you should also have easy keys to split and unsplit windows. On a standard PC keyboard, {【Alt+4】, 【Alt+3】} works well.

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