Occasionally the minibuffer acts somewhat like a "regular" buffer. By that I mean that when I type C-x o my cursor jumps to that buffer and then waits for me to type something.

But I can't write anything to it. For example, when I type n a new frame is opened.

The label for this buffer seems to be *Minibuf-0* - it is a minibuffer.

(Messages are still printed OK to the echo area, which is in the same location as the minibuffer.)

What I would like to do is "reset" the minibuffer so that it acts normally. I tried killing that buffer with C-x k but that doesn't change anything. The only thing that seems to fix it is a reboot of Emacs.

Is there a way to "reset" the minibuffer?

  • 1
    The n binding comes from minibuffer-inactive-mode-map. AFAIK this is normally only used for those special frames which only contain a minibuffer. I think what you're seeing is a bug and I'd recommend you M-x report-emacs-bug. If you can find a way to reproduce the problem that would be particularly helpful to track downb and fix the bug.
    – Stefan
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 17:29
  • Edited the question. It's about the minibuffer, not the echo area. One indication that there might be a bug is that the problem goes away (temporarily) if you reboot. Does it also go away if you just quit Emacs and restart Emacs (without rebooting)? Anyway, as @Stefan said, please do report this behavior, preferably with a recipe that starts from emacs -Q (no init file).
    – Drew
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 18:11
  • 1
    Have you tried M-x top-level?
    – NickD
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 18:27
  • Thank you for all of your suggestions. @Drew - I feel that your edit will make the question harder to find for people whose echo area "turns into" a minibuffer. Am I misunderstanding the terminology? When I say "reboot" I mean it jokingly. I can actually reboot my computer faster than I can start Emacs on my Windows system. I just meant restarting Emacs. When it happens again I will make a bug report. Thank you all for your help.
    – Tom Purl
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 14:47

1 Answer 1


@NickD had the answer! When my echo area "turns into" a minibuffer, I simply choose that buffer and execute the top-level function and the problem is solved. Thanks a ton for the help!

  • That may have enabled you to get out of the situation you were in. But your description of that situation suggests that there's a problem - perhaps a bug. and you said that this happens occasionally - it wasn't just a one-off.
    – Drew
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 17:28

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