September 14, 2008

  • ElScreen-howm is updated to version 0.1.3.
    • Display howm’s section name as a part of screen nickname.

May 28, 2008

  • Add link to ElScreen-Mew by Takashi Masuda (Japanese only, for now).

December 30, 2007

  • ElScreen is updated to version 1.4.6.
    • elscreen-display-tab now takes tnil, or integer. t means display tabs whose width is automatically calculated, integer means display tabs with fixed with, and nil hides tabs. elscreen-tab-width has been removed.
    • elscreen-tab-display-kill-screen now takes 'left'right, and nil. 'left and 'right means display “[X]” icon at the left/right side of each tab respectively. nil hides the icon.
    • M-mouse-1 on the “[X]” icon is now assigned to (elscreen-kill-screen-and-buffers).
    • Fix bug related to dedicated window.
    • Fix bug related to delete-window.

November 23, 2007

  • ElScreen-server is updated to version 0.2.0.
    • Use dframe-attached-dframe if selected frame is dedicated (this behavior is configurable). This will be usefull when you use Speedbar for instance.

November 19, 2007

  • ElScreen-ColorTheme is newly released (version 0.0.0).
    • When faces for ElScreen are not included in selected theme, suitable faces are automatically generated.

November 18, 2007

  • ElScreen-Speedbar is newly released (version 0.0.0).
    • Create new screen if needed when you open a file from speedbar.
    • dframe-power-click (typically assigned to S-mouse-1) invokes the original behavior; new screen won’t be created.

November 07, 2007

  • ElScreen-GF is updated to 1.5.3.
    • Store the points where you started GF searches. You can go back to these points with C-z C-g u
    • Don’t use sed to format the outputs of grep etc.
    • Eliminate old-style backquotes.
    • Many minor changes to add some new features later.

November 03, 2007

  • ElScreen-WL is updated to version 0.8.0.
    • Add subject string to screen nickname if exists.
    • Select summary buffer after a buffer for replay or forward is created as expected.
    • Eliminate old-style backquotes.

October 12, 2007

  • ElScreen-server is updated to version 0.1.0.
    • Support server.el r1.131 or later (after multi-tty branch is merged).
    • The constraint that elscreen-server.el should be evaluated after server.el or gnuserv.el is loaded is now removed.



Emacs is more of an “environment” than just an editor, since it has the strong configuration language, emacs-lisp. There are a lot of applications written in emacs-lisp, and you may run many applications on your Emacs at the same time, i.e. e-mail reader, news reader, IRC client, a kind of IDE, etc. These applications likely consist of two or more windows, so when you switch among applications, you may want to save or restore how windows are located (this is called as “window-configuration”). For this purpose, Emacs has two functions, window-configuratin-to-register and jump-to-register, but these are too primitive to use on a daily basis.

ElScreen provides the ease-to-use environment to save or restore several window-configurations. For instance, you just have to type C-z C-a to switch following two window-configurations:

Screen 0 (Wanderlust) >>
Screen1 (w3m)


Key features of ElScreen are:

  • Key bindings are similar to GNU Screen.
  • Screens are tabbed which makes it easier and faster to switch among applications.
  • ElScreen menu is also added to menu-bar to create, select or delete screens.
  • Each frame keeps up to 10 window-configurations.
  • List of screens can be shown in mini-buffer.
  • You can assign your own name to each window.


Following emacs variants are confirmed to run ElScreen:

  • GNU Emacs 22.0.50 (including Meadow 3.00-dev)
  • GNU Emacs 21.4
  • GNU Emacs 21.3
  • GNU Emacs 21.2
  • XEmacs 21.4
  • XEmacs 21.5


How to iconify (or suspend) Emacs?

C-z is assigned to iconify-or-deiconify-frame (or suspend-emacs), however ElScreen reassigns this key to its prefix key. How can we iconify (or suspend) our Emacs?

Ask emacs where iconify-or-deiconify-frame on with “C-h C-w iconify-or-deiconify”, and it will reply with “iconify-or-deiconify-frame is on C-x C-z”. … Yes, you can also use C-x C-z to iconify-or-deiconify (or suspend-emacs)!

Of course you can change it by setting elscreen-prefix-key as following:

(setq elscreen-prefix-key "\C-z")

Note: You must set this value before ElScreen is loaded.

How to change prefix-key after ElScreen is loaded?

As described above, ElScreen prefix key can be changed by setting elscreen-prefix-key. However, this will not have any effect after ElScreen is loaded. Even in this case, you can change it with elscreen-set-prefix-key as following:

(elscreen-set-prefix-key "\C-t")

How to create screen automatically when there is only one screen?

C-z C-n, C-z C-p and suchlike are used to switch screen. When there is only one screen, these commands just warn and exit. Following code fragment makes new screen for you automatically in that case, just put this to your .emacs.

(defmacro elscreen-create-automatically (ad-do-it)
  `(if (not (elscreen-one-screen-p))
     (elscreen-notify-screen-modification 'force-immediately)
     (elscreen-message "New screen is automatically created")))

(defadvice elscreen-next (around elscreen-create-automatically activate)
  (elscreen-create-automatically ad-do-it))

(defadvice elscreen-previous (around elscreen-create-automatically activate)
  (elscreen-create-automatically ad-do-it))

(defadvice elscreen-toggle (around elscreen-create-automatically activate)
  (elscreen-create-automatically ad-do-it))

How to display the list of screens on the frame-title of my Emacs?

Following code fragment will help those who does not want the tabs to occupy valuable space on their Emacsen but display the list of screens somewhere. This displays it on the frame-title of your Emacsen. (This code fragments now uses set-frame-name instead of setting frame-title-format if set-frame-name is avaiable, suggested by Evgeny V. Oleynik).

(defun elscreen-frame-title-update ()
  (when (elscreen-screen-modified-p 'elscreen-frame-title-update)
    (let* ((screen-list (sort (elscreen-get-screen-list) '<))
	   (screen-to-name-alist (elscreen-get-screen-to-name-alist))
	   (title (mapconcat
		   (lambda (screen)
		     (format "%d%s %s"
			     screen (elscreen-status-label screen)
			     (get-alist screen screen-to-name-alist)))
		   screen-list " ")))
      (if (fboundp 'set-frame-name)
	  (set-frame-name title)
	(setq frame-title-format title)))))

(eval-after-load "elscreen"
  '(add-hook 'elscreen-screen-update-hook 'elscreen-frame-title-update))

Add-On Software

There are some add-on softwares for ElScreen.


GNU ID Utils is a package of language independent tools that indexes tokens in source codes. Through ID database, it becomes much easier to list these tokens.

ElScreen-GF is an Emacs interface to GNU ID Utils. With this add-on, you can list tokens with filename and line number in which each token apper, select interesting entries, and jump to them more easily, making use of ElScreen.

ElScreen-GF 1.5.0 or later also supports cscope, and 1.5.2 or later supports GNU GLOBAL. Moreover, 1.5.0 or later is expected to run on XEmacs.


In dired-mode, dired-find-file-other-window, which is bound to “o”, opens the entry in another window. With ElScreen-dired, new screen is created for the selected entry if it is a regular file.


Emacssen has the ways to access from remote program, emacsclient or GNUServ, and can ask running emacs to open files through these programs. With ElScreen-server, new screens are automatically created for each file.


On some window system, such as MacOS X, Microsoft Windows, X Window System with some cool toolkit, you can drag & drop files from a file manager to your emacsen to open. With ElScreen-dnd, new screens are automatically created for each file.


Speedbar creates a special frame which makes it easier to handle files; browsing directories/files and opening them for instance. ElScreen-Speedbar allows you to open a file from speedbar in new screen. “power click” which is typically assigned to S-mouse-1 invokes the original behavior; new screen won’t be created.


Wanderlust is a mail and news client which can manage internet messages with IMAP. ElScreen-WL Add-On software provides the capability to manage draft buffers of Wanderlust effectively in conjunction with ElScreen. When you write new message or reply message, new screen is created for the draft buffer, and when a draft buffer is killed or a message is submitted, the screen for this draft buffer is automatically closed.


Emacs-W3M is the Web browser on Emacs variants using w3m. It supports tabbed browsing, so ElScreen’s tabbing capability is incompatible with it. ElScreen-W3M resolves this incompatibility by integrating Emacs-W3M’s tabbing into ElScreen.


ColorTheme provides more tham 50 color themes for your use. Most of them does not have face definitions for ElScreen, and ElScreen-ColorTheme will automatically generate suitable faces in such a case.


ElScreen and Add-On softwares can be retrieved here. You can also find prior version in “old” directory.

Latest version: 1.4.6 (December 30, 2007)
Latest version: 1.5.3 (November 07, 2007)
Latest version: 0.1.0 (November 20, 2005)
Latest version: 0.2.0 (November 23, 2007)
Latest version: 0.0.0 (December 17, 2005)
Latest version: 0.0.0 (November 18, 2007)
Latest version: 0.8.0 (November 03, 2007)
Latest version: 0.2.2 (July 26, 2006)
Latest version: 0.1.3 (September 14, 2008)
Latest version: 0.0.0 (September 12, 2005)
Latest version: 0.0.0 (November 19, 2007)

Related Link(s)


If you’ve been faced with the collapse of window-configuration with Mew-5.2 or later under ElScreen environment, ElScreen-Mew(written by Takashi Masuda) will help you.