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30.4.2 Initial Frame Parameters

You can specify the parameters for the initial startup frame by setting initial-frame-alist in your init file (see The Init File).

User Option: initial-frame-alist

This variable’s value is an alist of parameter values used when creating the initial frame. You can set this variable to specify the appearance of the initial frame without altering subsequent frames. Each element has the form:

(parameter . value)

Emacs creates the initial frame before it reads your init file. After reading that file, Emacs checks initial-frame-alist, and applies the parameter settings in the altered value to the already created initial frame.

If these settings affect the frame geometry and appearance, you’ll see the frame appear with the wrong ones and then change to the specified ones. If that bothers you, you can specify the same geometry and appearance with X resources; those do take effect before the frame is created. See X Resources in The GNU Emacs Manual.

X resource settings typically apply to all frames. If you want to specify some X resources solely for the sake of the initial frame, and you don’t want them to apply to subsequent frames, here’s how to achieve this. Specify parameters in default-frame-alist to override the X resources for subsequent frames; then, to prevent these from affecting the initial frame, specify the same parameters in initial-frame-alist with values that match the X resources.

If these parameters include (minibuffer . nil), that indicates that the initial frame should have no minibuffer. In this case, Emacs creates a separate minibuffer-only frame as well.

User Option: minibuffer-frame-alist

This variable’s value is an alist of parameter values used when creating an initial minibuffer-only frame (i.e., the minibuffer-only frame that Emacs creates if initial-frame-alist specifies a frame with no minibuffer).

User Option: default-frame-alist

This is an alist specifying default values of frame parameters for all Emacs frames—the first frame, and subsequent frames. When using the X Window System, you can get the same results by means of X resources in many cases.

Setting this variable does not affect existing frames. Furthermore, functions that display a buffer in a separate frame may override the default parameters by supplying their own parameters.

If you invoke Emacs with command-line options that specify frame appearance, those options take effect by adding elements to either initial-frame-alist or default-frame-alist. Options which affect just the initial frame, such as ‘--geometry’ and ‘--maximized’, add to initial-frame-alist; the others add to default-frame-alist. see Command Line Arguments for Emacs Invocation in The GNU Emacs Manual.

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