In general, I dislike frames. Right now, I'm using

(setq ediff-window-setup-function #'ediff-setup-windows-plain)

To ensure that ediff does not create a frame when it starts.

However, certain commands, like ediff-show-registry still open up new frames.

Is there any way I can completely disable the creation of frames in ediff?

  • How about modifying ediff-skip-unsuitable-frames, or commenting that out entirely within ediff-show-registry -- e.g., comment out: (ediff-skip-unsuitable-frames 'ok-unsplittable)?
    – lawlist
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 3:43
  • 5
    While you are at it, consider searching the source of the ediff-family of libraries for (make-frame and you'll find a few places that need fixing to suit your preferences. Your request is certainly reasonable, and would merit (in my opinion) a feature request to the author and/or Emacs team -- most people will assume ediff-setup-windows-plain should apply across the board without the various make-frame exceptions.
    – lawlist
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 3:49

1 Answer 1


There is an internal predicate in ediff-init.el, called ediff-window-display-p. When I redefined it (after loading ediff, of course) like so, everything works in a single frame, including the function you mentioned as a problem:

(defun ediff-window-display-p () nil)

I do agree with @lawlist that this is a nice feature request -- to fix ediff-window-setup-function.

  • 3
    This might be better written (advice-add 'ediff-window-display-p :override #'ignore), which can more easily be reversed with advice-remove (plus it doesn't require loading ediff first).
    – npostavs
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 2:13
  • @npostavs great! Thanks for the smarter code! Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 13:01
  • I tried this, but it unfortunately caused ediff to stop using my custom window setup function.
    – tboyce12
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 23:42
  • @tboyce12 That's confusing... why do you have a custom window set up function if you don't want new windows (i.e. frames) to show? What does the function do? Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 2:35
  • I do want new windows, but not new frames. The default ediff-setup-windows-plain takes over the whole frame -- I want to keep my "context" windows open (eg notes and other files). So I wrote a custom window setup function (uses custom display-buffer powered by ace-window to choose where to maybe split windows and display new buffers). It seems that when Ediff boots up it checks this ediff-window-display-p and if false, bypasses the custom window setup function and uses ediff-setup-windows-plain. So for my custom setup, I'll either avoid ediff-show-registry, or write custom command.
    – tboyce12
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 18:50

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