Let's face it, the scroll bars for the graphical emacs are both ugly and, if you're sufficiently experienced, entirely unnecessary. Here's a picture of terminal emacs (which uses the | character to separate horizontally aligned buffers) adjacent to the graphical emacs on OS X (which *shudder* uses scroll bars:

enter image description here

My question is this: how can I get the graphical emacs to look more like the terminal emacs and eliminate the scroll bars? I don't need it to look exactly the same, but something closer than what I've got now would be rather nice.

Oh, I should also point out that simply using (scroll-bar-mode -1) leaves me with an empty space where the scroll bar used to be, which I don't like. I still like to be able to see where one buffer ends and the other begins.

  • Turn off the fringe, which is probably what that empty space is.
    – Dan
    Jul 17, 2015 at 0:08
  • 1
    It might be an OSX issue? For both the GTK3 and Lucid X Window toolkits on Linux, disabling scroll-bar-mode leaves me with something fairly akin to the terminal: just a thin vertical line in place of the scroll bar, which is only padded by the fringes. (Emacs 24.4 & 24.5)
    – phils
    Jul 17, 2015 at 0:23
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    I've got it on both Linux and OS X with no scroll bars, and it looks like the terminal line. I turned off my fringe, but you could also change the fringe's face to match the background.
    – Dan
    Jul 17, 2015 at 0:46
  • Ah...it turns out that this was a consequence of my theme. Problem solved. Thanks all!
    – GJStein
    Jul 17, 2015 at 0:49
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    Please post an answer and select it after the obligatory waiting period. It may help someone else in the future.
    – Dan
    Jul 17, 2015 at 1:13

3 Answers 3


Turn off scroll bars and customize option default-frame-alist to specify whatever you want for parameterright-divider-width (and perhaps parameter bottom-divider-width).


As it would turn out, my theme (the spolsky-theme from the sublime-themes package) made this vertical line disappear when the scroll bar was disabled. By changing to another theme (from the color-theme-solarized package), the vertical bar reappears.

Problem solved.


In spolsky-theme.el, you can edit the line

`(vertical-border ((t (:foreground, *background*))))

to use another color than that of background (which is #161A1F; also used for window background). Note that the fringe background also use the same color, so only changing the vertical-border to a constrasting color (e.g. silver, #C0C0C0) gives quite a clean minimal dividing line, as the fringe can not be differentiated from the background.

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