At any time, one frame in Emacs is the selected frame. The selected window always resides on the selected frame.
When Emacs displays its frames on several terminals (see Multiple Terminals), each terminal has its own selected frame. But only one of these is “the selected frame”: it's the frame that belongs to the terminal from which the most recent input came. That is, when Emacs runs a command that came from a certain terminal, the selected frame is the one of that terminal. Since Emacs runs only a single command at any given time, it needs to consider only one selected frame at a time; this frame is what we call the selected frame in this manual. The display on which the selected frame is shown is the selected frame's display.
Some window systems and window managers direct keyboard input to the
window object that the mouse is in; others require explicit clicks or
commands to shift the focus to various window objects. Either
way, Emacs automatically keeps track of which frame has the focus. To
explicitly switch to a different frame from a Lisp function, call
Lisp programs can also switch frames “temporarily” by calling the
select-frame. This does not alter the window system's
concept of focus; rather, it escapes from the window manager's control
until that control is somehow reasserted.
When using a text-only terminal, only one frame can be displayed at a
time on the terminal, so after a call to
select-frame, the next
redisplay actually displays the newly selected frame. This frame
remains selected until a subsequent call to
terminal frame has a number which appears in the mode line before the
buffer name (see Mode Line Variables).
This function selects frame, raises it (should it happen to be obscured by other frames) and tries to give it the X server's focus. On a text-only terminal, the next redisplay displays the new frame on the entire terminal screen. The return value of this function is not significant.
This function selects frame frame, temporarily disregarding the focus of the X server if any. The selection of frame lasts until the next time the user does something to select a different frame, or until the next time this function is called. (If you are using a window system, the previously selected frame may be restored as the selected frame after return to the command loop, because it still may have the window system's input focus.)
The specified frame becomes the selected frame, as explained above, and the terminal that frame is on becomes the selected terminal. The window selected within frame becomes the selected window. This function returns frame, or
nilif frame has been deleted.
Optional argument norecord non-
nilmeans to neither change the order of recently selected windows nor the buffer list. See The Buffer List.
In general, you should never use
select-framein a way that could switch to a different terminal without switching back when you're done.
Emacs cooperates with the window system by arranging to select frames as
the server and window manager request. It does so by generating a
special kind of input event, called a focus event, when
appropriate. The command loop handles a focus event by calling
handle-switch-frame. See Focus Events.
This function handles a focus event by selecting frame frame.
Focus events normally do their job by invoking this command. Don't call it for any other reason.
This function redirects focus from frame to focus-frame. This means that focus-frame will receive subsequent keystrokes and events intended for frame. After such an event, the value of
last-event-framewill be focus-frame. Also, switch-frame events specifying frame will instead select focus-frame.
If focus-frame is omitted or
nil, that cancels any existing redirection for frame, which therefore once again receives its own events.
One use of focus redirection is for frames that don't have minibuffers. These frames use minibuffers on other frames. Activating a minibuffer on another frame redirects focus to that frame. This puts the focus on the minibuffer's frame, where it belongs, even though the mouse remains in the frame that activated the minibuffer.
Selecting a frame can also change focus redirections. Selecting frame
foohad been selected, changes any redirections pointing to
fooso that they point to
barinstead. This allows focus redirection to work properly when the user switches from one frame to another using
This means that a frame whose focus is redirected to itself is treated differently from a frame whose focus is not redirected.
select-frameaffects the former but not the latter.
The redirection lasts until
redirect-frame-focusis called to change it.
This option is how you inform Emacs whether the window manager transfers focus when the user moves the mouse. Non-
nilsays that it does. When this is so, the command
other-framemoves the mouse to a position consistent with the new selected frame.