This page is about library narrow-indirect.el, which lets you create an indirect buffer that is a clone of the current buffer and that is narrowed to a particular portion of it.

Such an indirect buffer gives you a different view of a portion of the buffer, or even of the whole buffer (use ‘C-x h C-x 4 n n’). It always has the same text and text properties, but otherwise it is pretty independent.

In particular, you can kill an indirect buffer without affecting its base buffer. You will likely want to kill indirect narrowed buffers rather than widening them.

Note: Because the indirect clone shares text properties with it base buffer, if you give it a different major mode that uses different font-locking then the font-locking of the base buffer changes the same way. However, you can restore the font-locking appropriate to the base buffer, by just toggling ‘font-lock-mode’ off and on again there.

See the Emacs manual, node Indirect Buffers.

It is helpful to be able to easily distinguish indirect buffers from non-indirect buffers. Library narrow-indirect.el offers two ways to do this, for the indirect buffers it creates:

By default, the name of an indirect narrowed buffer reflects the name of its base buffer and the text of the narrowed region (or the name of the defined object, in the case of ‘ni-narrow-to-defun-other-window’). But you can control this in several ways. See the command doc strings and user options ‘ni-buf-name-prefix’, ‘ni-narrowed-buf-name-max’, and ‘ni-buf-name-separator’.

If you use Emacs 24.4 or later then invisible buffer text is filtered out from the name of the indirect buffer. For example, if you invoke ‘ni-narrow-to-region-other-window’ with an active region in a Dired buffer that is hiding details, then the (invisible) details will not be included in the indirect-buffer name.

To customize the behavior of this library, do this:

  M-x customize-group Narrow-Indirect

Suggested key bindings:

 (define-key ctl-x-4-map "nd" 'ni-narrow-to-defun-other-window)
 (define-key ctl-x-4-map "nn" 'ni-narrow-to-region-other-window)
 (define-key ctl-x-4-map "np" 'ni-narrow-to-page-other-window)


The idea and original code for a command that combines narrowing with cloning a buffer as an indirect-buffer is due to ZaneAshby, here.

In Emacs bug thread #17401, PhilSainty proposed adding three commands to GnuEmacs based on this approach. LennartBorgman contributed code that uses, in the cloned buffer name, some text based on the narrowed region.

The code in narrow-indirect.el extends this a bit and provides a couple of user options and some alternative (prefix-argument) behavior. It is doubtful that Emacs Dev will ever adopt features such as those defined here, and if they do then this library can at least help for Emacs versions prior to their addition.

CategoryRegion CategoryHideStuff MultipleModes IndirectBuffers