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The Echo Area
The line at the bottom of the screen (below the mode line) is the
"echo area". It is used to display small amounts of text for several
"Echoing" means printing out the characters that you type. Outside
Emacs, the operating system normally echoes all your input. Emacs
handles echoing differently.
Single-character commands do not echo in Emacs, and multi-character
commands echo only if you pause while typing them. As soon as you pause
for more than a second in the middle of a command, Emacs echoes all the
characters of the command so far. This is to "prompt" you for the rest
of the command. 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. You can change this behavior by setting a variable (*note
If a command cannot be executed, it may print an "error message" in
the echo area. Error messages are accompanied by a beep or by flashing
the screen. Also, any input you have typed ahead is thrown away when
an error happens.
Some commands print informative messages in the echo area. These
messages look much like error messages, but they are not announced with
a beep and do not throw away input. Sometimes the message tells you
what the command has done, when this is not obvious from looking at the
text being edited. Sometimes the sole purpose of a command is to print
a message giving you specific information--for example, `C-x =' prints
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.
The echo area is also used to display the "minibuffer", a window that
is used for reading arguments to commands, such as the name of a file
to be edited. When the minibuffer is in use, the echo area begins with
a prompt string that usually ends with a colon; also, the cursor
appears in that line because it is the selected window. You can always
get out of the minibuffer by typing `C-g'. Note: Minibuffer.
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