I use tiling window manager and usually prefer it to handle emacs frames instead of using emacs windows. Is there a way I could force emacs to spawn new buffers in new frames automatically? Ideally this behavior should be toggled via some command.

2 Answers 2


C-h v pop-up-frames tells you this. It should get you much of the way there.

pop-up-frames is a variable defined in window.el.

Its value is t

Original value was nil


Whether `display-buffer' should make a separate frame.

If nil, never make a separate frame.

If the value is graphic-only, make a separate frame on graphic displays only.

Any other non-nil value means always make a separate frame.

You can customize this variable.

This, and its linked pages, might also help, at least by describing some of the problems of trying to use frames-only by default.


pop-up-frames certainly does the trick but it is too awkward to use. It will spawn everything in new frame.

Much finer control may be reached by using display-buffer-alist. It allows conditionally opening buffers in new frames.

I wrote a small minor mode pop-up-frames-mode using display-buffer-alist method:

;; https://stackoverflow.com/a/1511827/5745120
(defun which-active-modes ()
  "Which minor modes are enabled in the current buffer."
  (let ((active-modes))
    (mapc (lambda (mode) (condition-case nil
                        (if (and (symbolp mode) (symbol-value mode))
                            (add-to-list 'active-modes mode))
                      (error nil) ))

(defun pop-up-frames-switch-to-buffer (buffer alist)
  "Pop up frames switch to buffer command."
  (member 'pop-up-frames-mode (which-active-modes)))

(setq display-buffer-alist
      (append display-buffer-alist
      '((pop-up-frames-switch-to-buffer . ((display-buffer-reuse-window display-buffer-pop-up-frame) . ((reusable-frames . 0)))

(define-minor-mode pop-up-frames-mode
  "Pop up frames minor mode"
  :lighter " PUF")

(provide 'pop-up-frames-mode)

It spawns new frame only when pop-up-frames-mode is enabled in current buffer and does not create duplicate windows.

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