GNU Emacs Manual. Node: Special Buffer Frames

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15.9: Special Buffer Frames

You can make certain chosen buffers, for which Emacs normally creates a second window when you have just one window, appear in special frames of their own. To do this, set the variable special-display-buffer-names to a list of buffer names; any buffer whose name is in that list automatically gets a special frame, when an Emacs command wants to display it ``in another window.''

For example, if you set the variable this way,

(setq special-display-buffer-names
      '("*Completions*" "*grep*" "*tex-shell*"))

then completion lists, grep output and the TeX mode shell buffer get individual frames of their own. These frames, and the windows in them, are never automatically split or reused for any other buffers. They continue to show the buffers they were created for, unless you alter them by hand. Killing the special buffer deletes its frame automatically.

More generally, you can set special-display-regexps to a list of regular expressions; then a buffer gets its own frame if its name matches any of those regular expressions. (Once again, this applies only to buffers that normally get displayed for you in a separate window.)

The variable special-display-frame-alist specifies the frame parameters for these frames. It has a default value, so you don't need to set it.

For those who know Lisp, an element of special-display-buffer-names or special-display-regexps can also be a list. Then the first element is the buffer name or regular expression; the rest of the list specifies how to create the frame. It can be an association list specifying frame parameter values; these values take precedence over parameter values specified in special-display-frame-alist. Alternatively, it can have this form:

(function args...)

where function is a symbol. Then the frame is constructed by calling function; its first argument is the buffer, and its remaining arguments are args.

An analogous feature lets you specify buffers which should be displayed in the selected window. See Force Same Window. The same-window feature takes precedence over the special-frame feature; therefore, if you add a buffer name to special-display-buffer-names and it has no effect, check to see whether that feature is also in use for the same buffer name.

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