(or emacs irrelevant)

ace-window 0.9.0 is out


I kind of forgot to tag the 0.8.0 release on Github, so it's been a whole 3 months since the last release. In this post, I'll only describe the newest exciting feature in more detail, see the archive for older posts on ace window.

New Features

Display the window decision chars in the mode line

Enable ace-window-display-mode for this. This gives you the advantage of always being aware which window corresponds to which char.

New defcustom: aw-ignore-current

This is off by default. When t, ace-window will ignore selected-window.

Allow to switch the window action midway

Ace-window has many commands available, like:

  • ace-select-window
  • ace-delete-window
  • ace-swap-window
  • ...

But did you wish sometimes when you called ace-select-window that you should have called ace-delete-window? In the old way, you would cancel ace-select-window with C-g and call ace-delete-window.

With the new way, you can, just press x followed by the decision char. All keys are customizable through aw-dispatch-alist.

(defvar aw-dispatch-alist
  '((?x aw-delete-window " Ace - Delete Window")
    (?m aw-swap-window " Ace - Swap Window")
    (?n aw-flip-window)
    (?v aw-split-window-vert " Ace - Split Vert Window")
    (?b aw-split-window-horz " Ace - Split Horz Window")
    (?i delete-other-windows " Ace - Maximize Window")
    (?o delete-other-windows))
  "List of actions for `aw-dispatch-default'.")

The strings beside each command are important: they are used to update the mode line when you press a char. They also mean that a window should be selected using aw-keys for the corresponding command. If there's no string, the command is just called straight away, with no arguments. To reiterate, for each entry without a string, its command will be called immediately, and for others the window will be selected first.

Also, take note of aw-flip-window. Suppose the you have a lot (say 7) windows, but you only want to cycle between the most recent two. You can do so with n, with no need to press the decision char.

I call this feature "the dispatch". The dispatch normally happens when:

  1. you're prompted for aw-keys
  2. you press a char that isn't in aw-keys
  3. there's an entry in aw-dispatch-alist for this char

If you want to skip step 1 always (since, by default, you're not prompted for aw-keys when you have 2 or less windows), use:

(setq aw-dispatch-always t)

Be careful though, setting this means that you'll always have to select a window with aw-keys, even if there are only two. This is a large toll on the muscle memory. On the other hand, even with one window, assuming you've bound ace-window to M-p, you get:

  • split-window-vertically on M-p v
  • split-window-horizontally on M-p b
  • delete-other-windows on M-p o

What's also nice is that these commands scale with the amount of windows: if you have only one window, you get no prompt for M-p v, so it acts just like C-x 2. But if you have more windows, you don't have to select the window that you want to split beforehand: you can select it after you decided to issue a split operation.

See the wiki for a nice customization setup by @joedicastro.


Give the new feature a try. The jump in utility between the new and old ace-window, I feel, is of the same magnitude as the jump between other-window and ace-window. However, it doesn't come for free and the muscle memory needs to be readjusted slightly.

Big thanks to all who contributed, especially to @joedicastro.