If I have Emacs split horizontally and on top I'm editing elisp code and on the bottom I am in the shell. By default, Emacs makes the two windows equal in size, but I'd like the shell buffer smaller. I was wondering how I could do that.

Original question asked by Steve on SO: How to Change size of split screen emacs windows?

  • 4
    Are we intentionally duplicating questions from SO? stackoverflow.com/questions/4987760/…
    – phils
    Oct 1, 2014 at 22:07
  • @phils, No I was not. But I will make a link to the post. Thank you for the insight. Oct 1, 2014 at 22:08
  • beyond that, that one was a little bit too easy :)
    – Nsukami _
    Oct 1, 2014 at 22:17
  • 1
    Gee, great edit @King. Now this question has become really different from the one you copied...
    – rsenna
    Oct 1, 2014 at 22:32
  • 2
    it make me think that, the emacs related questions on SO should be migrated. It will have avoided the (tiny) uproar
    – Nsukami _
    Oct 2, 2014 at 0:12

5 Answers 5


C-x- (shrink-window-if-larger-than-buffer) to shrink a window to fit its content.

C-x+ (balance-windows) to make windows the same heights and widths.

C-x^ (enlarge-window) to increase height by 1 line, or the prefix arg value. A negative arg shrinks the window. Example: C-u - 3 C-x ^

C-x{ (shrink-window-horizontally)

C-x} (enlarge-window-horizontally)

  • 1
    +1 for the shrinking command. I was looking for the way to shrink by a single line. What is C-u?
    – Vass
    Sep 18, 2016 at 22:28
  • 4
    @Vass C-u begin a numeric argument for the following command. If you want to increase 5 times, instead of typing, 5 times, the same command, you type C-u 5 C-x ^
    – Nsukami _
    Sep 20, 2016 at 7:01
  • 2
    It's also worth noting that C-u default value is 4, meaning that C-u C-x ^ will do the same as C-u 4 C-x ^.
    – ramnes
    Aug 1, 2019 at 8:27

I would also recommend checking out either the windresize package from ELPA, or the windsize package from MELPA.

With windresize, you can do M-x windresize and then use the arrow keys to move window borders easily, hitting ENTER when you're done.


You can use C-x^ (enlarge-window) in the upper window to make it larger (and thus make the lower window smaller).

Using the mouse, you can also drag the modeline of the upper window to resize it.

  • great idea to make another window smaller by enlarging the one above it!
    – Vass
    Sep 18, 2016 at 22:29

Also note that just like in a window system, you can use the mouse with xterm-mouse-mode to drag the window divider.

Note that this seems to sometimes depend a bit on the actual xterm or xterm-like program, and iirc in older Emacsen it wasn't reliable past about the 100th column unless you played with the TERM environment variable a bit, but in my Emacs 24.2.1 it works fine with emacs -nw -q (ie. totally ignoring my .emacs and manually enabling xterm-mouse-mode with M-x xterm-mouse-mode)

Update: FYI for completeness I'll point out this also works for vertical dividers (ie. when you have split with C-x 3)


I've ever written a simple minor-mode (for my personal usage) to interactively resize-frame. I think this should be convenient.


M-x resize-frameto enable the resize-frame minor-mode:

  1. Press arrow keys to adjust size horizontally/vertically.
  2. Press any other keys to disable.

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