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GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual

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22.12.6 Tool bars

A tool bar is a row of icons at the top of a frame, that execute commands when you click on them--in effect, a kind of graphical menu bar. Emacs supports tool bars starting with version 21.

The frame parameter tool-bar-lines (X resource `toolBar') controls how many lines' worth of height to reserve for the tool bar. A zero value suppresses the tool bar. If the value is nonzero, and auto-resize-tool-bars is non-nil, the tool bar expands and contracts automatically as needed to hold the specified contents.

The tool bar contents are controlled by a menu keymap attached to a fake "function key" called tool-bar (much like the way the menu bar is controlled). So you define a tool bar item using define-key, like this:

(define-key global-map [tool-bar key] item)

where key is a fake "function key" to distinguish this item from other items, and item is a menu item key binding (see section Extended Menu Items), which says how to display this item and how it behaves.

The usual menu keymap item properties, :visible, :enable, :button, and :filter, are useful in tool bar bindings and have their normal meanings. The real-binding in the item must be a command, not a keymap; in other words, it does not work to define a tool bar icon as a prefix key.

The :help property specifies a "help-echo" string to display while the mouse is on that item. This is displayed in the same way as help-echo text properties (see Help display).

In addition, you should use the :image property; this is how you specify the image to display in the tool bar:

:image image
images is either a single image specification or a vector of four image specifications. If you use a vector of four, one of them is used, depending on circumstances:

item 0
Used when the item is enabled and selected.
item 1
Used when the item is enabled and deselected.
item 2
Used when the item is disabled and selected.
item 3
Used when the item is disabled and deselected.

If image is a single image specification, Emacs draws the tool bar button in disabled state by applying an edge-detection algorithm to the image.

The default tool bar is defined so that items specific to editing do not appear for major modes whose command symbol has a mode-class property of special (see section 23.1.1 Major Mode Conventions). Major modes may add items to the global bar by binding [tool-bar foo] in their local map. It makes sense for some major modes to replace the default tool bar items completely, since not many can be accommodated conveniently, and the default bindings make this easy by using an indirection through tool-bar-map.

Variable: tool-bar-map
By default, the global map binds [tool-bar] as follows:
(global-set-key [tool-bar]
		'(menu-item "tool bar" ignore
			    :filter (lambda (ignore) tool-bar-map)))
Thus the tool bar map is derived dynamically from the value of variable tool-bar-map and you should normally adjust the default (global) tool bar by changing that map. Major modes may replace the global bar completely by making tool-bar-map buffer-local and set to a keymap containing only the desired items. Info mode provides an example.

There are two convenience functions for defining tool bar items, as follows.

Function: tool-bar-add-item icon def key &rest props
This function adds an item to the tool bar by modifying tool-bar-map. The image to use is defined by icon, which is the base name of an XPM, XBM or PBM image file to located by find-image. Given a value `"exit"', say, `exit.xpm', `exit.pbm' and `exit.xbm' would be searched for in that order on a color display. On a monochrome display, the search order is `.pbm', `.xbm' and `.xpm'. The binding to use is the command def, and key is the fake function key symbol in the prefix keymap. The remaining arguments props are additional property list elements to add to the menu item specification.

To define items in some local map, bind `tool-bar-map with let around calls of this function:
(defvar foo-tool-bar-map 
  (let ((tool-bar-map (make-sparse-keymap)))
    (tool-bar-add-item ...)

Function: tool-bar-add-item-from-menu command icon &optional map &rest props
This command is a convenience for defining tool bar items which are consistent with existing menu bar bindings. The binding of command is looked up in the menu bar in map (default global-map) and modified to add an image specification for icon, which is looked for in the same way as by tool-bar-add-item. The resulting binding is then placed in tool-bar-map. map must contain an appropriate keymap bound to [menu-bar]. The remaining arguments props are additional property list elements to add to the menu item specification.

Variable: auto-resize-tool-bar
If this variable is non-nil, the tool bar automatically resizes to show all defined tool bar items--but not larger than a quarter of the frame's height.

Variable: auto-raise-tool-bar-items
If this variable is non-nil, tool bar items display in raised form when the mouse moves over them.

Variable: tool-bar-item-margin
This variable specifies an extra margin to add around tool bar items. The value is an integer, a number of pixels. The default is 1.

Variable: tool-bar-item-relief
This variable specifies the shadow width for tool bar items. The value is an integer, a number of pixels. The default is 3.

You can define a special meaning for clicking on a tool bar item with the shift, control, meta, etc., modifiers. You do this by setting up additional items that relate to the original item through the fake function keys. Specifically, the additional items should use the modified versions of the same fake function key used to name the original item.

Thus, if the original item was defined this way,

(define-key global-map [tool-bar shell]
  '(menu-item "Shell" shell
              :image (image :type xpm :file "shell.xpm")))

then here is how you can define clicking on the same tool bar image with the shift modifier:

(define-key global-map [tool-bar S-shell] 'some-command)

See section 21.6.2 Function Keys, for more information about how to add modifiers to function keys.

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