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Is it possible to run something like helm-recentf or helm-mini in a way that the helm window occupies the entire frame when it's running, and then disappears afterwards (like the helm windows normally do)?

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The short answer is that you use use this:

(setq helm-full-frame t)

The slightly longer answer is that I wanted to use helm-mini as a 'dashboard' sort of thing when I started up emacs. To do that I used this function:

(defun helm-dashboard() (if (< (length command-line-args) 2) (let ( (helm-full-frame-orig helm-full-frame) (helm-mini-default-sources-orig helm-mini-default-sources) )

  (setq helm-full-frame t)
  (setq helm-mini-default-sources
    `(helm-source-bookmarks helm-source-recentf))
  (set-frame-parameter nil 'fullscreen 'maximized)
  (helm-mini)
  (setq helm-full-frame helm-full-frame-orig)
  (setq helm-mini-default-sources helm-mini-default-sources-orig)
  )
  )
)

Then, in my init.el I added this as part of my helm config:

(add-hook 'window-setup-hook
    (lambda () (helm-dashboard) )
)

(I want this to run last, after the emacs-startup-hook)

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