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GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual

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20.2 Reading Text Strings with the Minibuffer

Most often, the minibuffer is used to read text as a string. It can also be used to read a Lisp object in textual form. The most basic primitive for minibuffer input is read-from-minibuffer; it can do either one.

In most cases, you should not call minibuffer input functions in the middle of a Lisp function. Instead, do all minibuffer input as part of reading the arguments for a command, in the interactive specification. See section 21.2 Defining Commands.

Function: read-from-minibuffer prompt-string &optional initial-contents keymap read hist default inherit-input-method
This function is the most general way to get input through the minibuffer. By default, it accepts arbitrary text and returns it as a string; however, if read is non-nil, then it uses read to convert the text into a Lisp object (see section 19.3 Input Functions).

The first thing this function does is to activate a minibuffer and display it with prompt-string as the prompt. This value must be a string. Then the user can edit text in the minibuffer.

When the user types a command to exit the minibuffer, read-from-minibuffer constructs the return value from the text in the minibuffer. Normally it returns a string containing that text. However, if read is non-nil, read-from-minibuffer reads the text and returns the resulting Lisp object, unevaluated. (See section 19.3 Input Functions, for information about reading.)

The argument default specifies a default value to make available through the history commands. It should be a string, or nil. If read is non-nil, then default is also used as the input to read, if the user enters empty input. However, in the usual case (where read is nil), read-from-minibuffer does not return default when the user enters empty input; it returns an empty string, "". In this respect, it is different from all the other minibuffer input functions in this chapter.

If keymap is non-nil, that keymap is the local keymap to use in the minibuffer. If keymap is omitted or nil, the value of minibuffer-local-map is used as the keymap. Specifying a keymap is the most important way to customize the minibuffer for various applications such as completion.

The argument hist specifies which history list variable to use for saving the input and for history commands used in the minibuffer. It defaults to minibuffer-history. See section 20.4 Minibuffer History.

If the variable minibuffer-allow-text-properties is non-nil, then the string which is returned includes whatever text properties were present in the minibuffer. Otherwise all the text properties are stripped when the value is returned.

If the argument inherit-input-method is non-nil, then the minibuffer inherits the current input method (see section 33.11 Input Methods) and the setting of enable-multibyte-characters (see section 33.1 Text Representations) from whichever buffer was current before entering the minibuffer.

If initial-contents is a string, read-from-minibuffer inserts it into the minibuffer, leaving point at the end, before the user starts to edit the text. The minibuffer appears with this text as its initial contents.

Alternatively, initial-contents can be a cons cell of the form (string . position). This means to insert string in the minibuffer but put point position characters from the beginning, rather than at the end.

Usage note: The initial-contents argument and the default argument are two alternative features for more or less the same job. It does not make sense to use both features in a single call to read-from-minibuffer. In general, we recommend using default, since this permits the user to insert the default value when it is wanted, but does not burden the user with deleting it from the minibuffer on other occasions.

Function: read-string prompt &optional initial history default inherit-input-method
This function reads a string from the minibuffer and returns it. The arguments prompt and initial are used as in read-from-minibuffer. The keymap used is minibuffer-local-map.

The optional argument history, if non-nil, specifies a history list and optionally the initial position in the list. The optional argument default specifies a default value to return if the user enters null input; it should be a string. The optional argument inherit-input-method specifies whether to inherit the current buffer's input method.

This function is a simplified interface to the read-from-minibuffer function:

(read-string prompt initial history default inherit)
(let ((value
       (read-from-minibuffer prompt initial nil nil
                             history default inherit)))
  (if (equal value "")

Variable: minibuffer-allow-text-properties
If this variable is nil, then read-from-minibuffer strips all text properties from the minibuffer input before returning it. Since all minibuffer input uses read-from-minibuffer, this variable applies to all minibuffer input.

Note that the completion functions discard text properties unconditionally, regardless of the value of this variable.

Variable: minibuffer-local-map
This is the default local keymap for reading from the minibuffer. By default, it makes the following bindings:








Function: read-no-blanks-input prompt &optional initial inherit-input-method
This function reads a string from the minibuffer, but does not allow whitespace characters as part of the input: instead, those characters terminate the input. The arguments prompt, initial, and inherit-input-method are used as in read-from-minibuffer.

This is a simplified interface to the read-from-minibuffer function, and passes the value of the minibuffer-local-ns-map keymap as the keymap argument for that function. Since the keymap minibuffer-local-ns-map does not rebind C-q, it is possible to put a space into the string, by quoting it.

(read-no-blanks-input prompt initial)
(read-from-minibuffer prompt initial minibuffer-local-ns-map)

Variable: minibuffer-local-ns-map
This built-in variable is the keymap used as the minibuffer local keymap in the function read-no-blanks-input. By default, it makes the following bindings, in addition to those of minibuffer-local-map:




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