The line at the very bottom of the frame is the echo area. It is used to display small amounts of text for various purposes.
Echoing means displaying the characters that you type. Single-character commands, including most simple editing operations, are not echoed. Multi-character commands are echoed if you pause while typing them: if you pause for more than a second in the middle of a command, Emacs echoes all the characters of the command so far, to prompt you for the rest of the command. The echoed characters are displayed in the echo area. Once echoing has started, the rest of the command echoes immediately as you type it. This behavior is designed to give confident users fast response, while giving hesitant users maximum feedback. See Display Custom.
If a command cannot do its job, it may display an error message. Error messages are also displayed in the echo area. They may be accompanied by beeping or by flashing the screen.
Some commands display informative messages in the echo area. Unlike error messages, these messages are not announced with a beep or flash. Sometimes the message tells you what the command has done, when this is not obvious from looking at the text being edited. Other times, the sole purpose of a command is to show you a message giving you specific information. For example, C-x = (hold down <CTRL> and type x, then let go of <CTRL> and type =) displays a message describing the character position of point in the text and its current column in the window. Commands that take a long time often display messages ending in ‘...’ while they are working, and add ‘done’ at the end when they are finished. They may also indicate progress with percentages.
Informative echo-area messages are saved in a special buffer named
‘*Messages*’. (We have not explained buffers yet; see
Buffers, for more information about them.) If you miss a
message that appeared briefly on the screen, you can switch to the
‘*Messages*’ buffer to see it again. The ‘*Messages*’
buffer is limited to a certain number of lines, specified by the
message-log-max. (We have not explained variables
either; see Variables, for more information about them.) Beyond
this limit, one line is deleted from the beginning whenever a new
message line is added at the end.
The echo area is also used to display the minibuffer, a special window where you can input arguments to commands, such as the name of a file to be edited. When the minibuffer is in use, the text displayed in the echo area begins with a prompt string (usually ending with a colon); also, the active cursor appears within the minibuffer, which is temporarily considered the selected window. You can always get out of the minibuffer by typing C-g. See Minibuffer.blog comments powered by Disqus