I set up an org-timer indicator in the mode line with this.

   ;; org-timer
    (unless (not org-timer-countdown-timer)
      (propertize (let* ((rtime (decode-time
                                  (timer--time org-timer-countdown-timer)
                         (rmins (nth 1 rtime))
                         (rsecs (nth 0 rtime)))
                    (format "🕔 %d:%d" rmins rsecs))
                  'face '(:foreground "cyan" :weight bold)
                  'help-echo "org-timer")))


I want this org-timer indicator to be shown in the active mode line only, instead of all mode lines. How to do it?

  • See: emacs.stackexchange.com/a/22682/2287
    – lawlist
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 14:25
  • @lawlist Can't understand your code. Don't know how to apply on my case. Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 1:14
  • 1
    The redisplay engine is able to check each window under certain circumstances (e.g., when the mode-line is refreshed naturally, or when it is forced to refresh). When the mode-line-format contains the function (selected-window), a different window will be returned as redisplay visits the various windows. That value can be compared with a pre-recorded value -- e.g., the post-command-hook can be used to record the last known selected-window and that value can later be compared with a function inside the mode-line-format. So, I use the PCH to record/store the selected-window.
    – lawlist
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 4:02
  • @lawlist I have checked out your code, but have not found general usage for my case. If I change to other thing instead of org-timer. What should I do? I hope a more general way. Even it did inspired me. Can you give me more exactly code example? Because I found it set different 'face, But I need to change the display string. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 11:23
  • I haven't tried this, but this question looks similar to this one: emacs.stackexchange.com/q/13842/115 Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 15:39

1 Answer 1


In the following example, the word “ACTIVE” will appear in the mode-line of the window that is active, and all other windows will display the word “INACTIVE” in the mode-line.

Be sure to try this example with emacs -Q to verify that it works as advertised. Thereafter, customize it as needed.

Add additional hooks as needed to call ml-update-all.

(defvar ml-selected-window nil)

(defun ml-record-selected-window ()
  (setq ml-selected-window (selected-window)))

(defun ml-update-all ()
  (force-mode-line-update t))

(add-hook 'post-command-hook 'ml-record-selected-window)

(add-hook 'buffer-list-update-hook 'ml-update-all)

(setq-default mode-line-format
      (if (eq ml-selected-window (selected-window))

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