If you do several tasks within Emacs, then it can be confusing for newbies. The layout of windows works well if you do only one task (such as reading news using Gnus), or if each task uses one buffer (then you can switch buffers to switch tasks).

This often not enough, however. Example: When using Gnus, you might want three windows (summary, article, and BBDB info), when working with SQL you might want two windows (editing a file, and watching the DB output), when chatting on IRC you want all your channels visible.

If all you know is how to switch buffers (C-x C-b), split windows (C-x 2 horizontally, C-x 3 vertically), maximize windows (C-x 1), and delete windows (C-x 0) – then you will find multiple tasks confusing.

Instead of using the keyboard to move among windows, you can select a window by clicking on it with the mouse, or you can use this library to have Emacs mimic the focus-follows-mouse policy implemented by some window managers and merely move the mouse over the window:

The thing to do is to either create new frames (great when using a GUI), or manage window configurations. Either way you can then switch frames or configurations whenever you switch tasks. In order to save, restore, and switch these, see WindowConfiguration and FrameConfiguration.

Note that when you are at a terminal, you can still have frames. Use ‘C-x 5 o’ to cycle through frames (M-x other-frame).

For a version of Emacs that uses frames instead of windows, for everything, see OneOnOneEmacs.

CategoryDisplay CategoryWindows CategoryFrames CategoryGlossary