An image descriptor is a list which specifies the underlying
data for an image, and how to display it. It is typically used as the
value of a
display overlay or text property (see Other Display Specifications); but See Showing Images, for convenient helper
functions to insert images into buffers.
Each image descriptor has the form
(image . props),
where props is a property list of alternating keyword symbols
and values, including at least the pair
:type type that
specifies the image type.
Image descriptors which define image dimensions,
:max-height, may take
either an integer, which represents the dimension in pixels, or a pair
(value . em), where value is the dimension’s
length in ems32. One em is equivalent to the height of the font
and value may be an integer or a float.
The following is a list of properties that are meaningful for all image types (there are also properties which are meaningful only for certain image types, as documented in the following subsections):
The image type. See Image Formats. Every image descriptor must include this property.
This says to load the image from file file. If file is
not an absolute file name, it is expanded relative to each of the
directories mentioned by
image-load-path (see Defining Images).
This specifies the raw image data. Each image descriptor must have
:file, but not both.
For most image types, the value of a
:data property should be a
string containing the image data. Some image types do not support
:data; for some others,
:data alone is not enough, so
you need to use other image properties along with
the following subsections for details.
This specifies how many pixels to add as an extra margin around the
image. The value, margin, must be a non-negative number, or a
(x . y) of such numbers. If it is a pair,
x specifies how many pixels to add horizontally, and y
specifies how many pixels to add vertically. If
:margin is not
specified, the default is zero.
This specifies the amount of the image’s height to use for its
ascent—that is, the part above the baseline. The value,
ascent, must be a number in the range 0 to 100, or the symbol
If ascent is a number, that percentage of the image’s height is used for its ascent.
If ascent is
center, the image is vertically centered
around a centerline which would be the vertical centerline of text drawn
at the position of the image, in the manner specified by the text
properties and overlays that apply to the image.
If this property is omitted, it defaults to 50.
This adds a shadow rectangle around the image. The value, relief, specifies the width of the shadow lines, in pixels. If relief is negative, shadows are drawn so that the image appears as a pressed button; otherwise, it appears as an unpressed button.
:width width, :height height
:height keywords are used for scaling the
image. If only one of them is specified, the other one will be
calculated so as to preserve the aspect ratio. If both are specified,
aspect ratio may not be preserved.
:max-width max-width, :max-height max-height
:max-height keywords are used for
scaling if the size of the image exceeds these values. If
:width is set, it will have precedence over
:height is set, it will have precedence over
max-height, but you can otherwise mix these keywords as you
:height are specified, but
:width is not, preserving the aspect ratio might require that
:max-width. If this happens, scaling will use a
smaller value for the height so as to preserve the aspect ratio while
:max-width. Similarly when both
:width are specified, but
is not. For example, if you have a 200x100 image and specify that
:width should be 400 and
:max-height should be 150,
you’ll end up with an image that is 300x150: Preserving the aspect
ratio and not exceeding the “max” setting. This combination of
parameters is a useful way of saying “display this image as large as
possible, but no larger than the available display area”.
This should be a number, where values higher than 1 means to increase
the size, and lower means to decrease the size, by multiplying both
the width and height. For instance, a value of 0.25 will make the
image a quarter size of what it originally was. If the scaling makes
the image larger than specified by
:max-height, the resulting size will not exceed those two
values. If both
specified, the height/width will be adjusted by the specified scaling
Specifies a rotation angle in degrees. Only multiples of 90 degrees
are supported, unless the image type is
values rotate clockwise, negative values counter-clockwise. Rotation
is performed after scaling and cropping.
If this is
t, the image will be horizontally flipped.
Currently it has no effect if the image type is
Vertical flipping can be achieved by rotating the image 180 degrees
and toggling this value.
If this is
t, any image transform will have smoothing applied;
nil, no smoothing will be applied. The exact algorithm used
is platform dependent, but should be equivalent to bilinear
filtering. Disabling smoothing will use the nearest neighbor
If this property is not specified,
create-image will use the
image-transform-smoothing user option to say whether scaling
should be done or not. This option can be
nil (no smoothing),
t (use smoothing) or a predicate function that’s called with
the image object as the only parameter, and should return either
t. The default is for down-scaling to apply
smoothing, and for large up-scaling to not apply smoothing.
See Multi-Frame Images.
This specifies a conversion algorithm that should be applied to the image before it is displayed; the value, algorithm, specifies which algorithm.
Specifies the Laplace edge detection algorithm, which blurs out small differences in color while highlighting larger differences. People sometimes consider this useful for displaying the image for a disabled button.
(edge-detection :matrix matrix :color-adjust adjust)¶
Specifies a general edge-detection algorithm. matrix must be either a nine-element list or a nine-element vector of numbers. A pixel at position x/y in the transformed image is computed from original pixels around that position. matrix specifies, for each pixel in the neighborhood of x/y, a factor with which that pixel will influence the transformed pixel; element 0 specifies the factor for the pixel at x-1/y-1, element 1 the factor for the pixel at x/y-1 etc., as shown below:
(x-1/y-1 x/y-1 x+1/y-1 x-1/y x/y x+1/y x-1/y+1 x/y+1 x+1/y+1)
The resulting pixel is computed from the color intensity of the color resulting from summing up the RGB values of surrounding pixels, multiplied by the specified factors, and dividing that sum by the sum of the factors’ absolute values.
Laplace edge-detection currently uses a matrix of
(1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -1)
Emboss edge-detection uses a matrix of
( 2 -1 0 -1 0 1 0 1 -2)
Specifies transforming the image so that it looks disabled.
If mask is
(heuristic bg), build
a clipping mask for the image, so that the background of a frame is
visible behind the image. If bg is not specified, or if bg
t, determine the background color of the image by looking at
the four corners of the image, assuming the most frequently occurring
color from the corners is the background color of the image. Otherwise,
bg must be a list
(red green blue)
specifying the color to assume for the background of the image.
If mask is
nil, remove a mask from the image, if it has
one. Images in some formats include a mask which can be removed by
This specifies the pointer shape when the mouse pointer is over this image. See Pointer Shape, for available pointer shapes.
This associates an image map of hot spots with this image.
An image map is an alist where each element has the format
(area id plist). An area is specified
as either a rectangle, a circle, or a polygon.
A rectangle is a cons
(rect . ((x0 . y0) . (x1 . y1)))
which specifies the pixel coordinates of the upper left and bottom right
corners of the rectangle area.
A circle is a cons
(circle . ((x0 . y0) . r))
which specifies the center and the radius of the circle; r may
be a float or integer.
A polygon is a cons
(poly . [x0 y0 x1 y1 ...])
where each pair in the vector describes one corner in the polygon.
When the mouse pointer lies on a hot-spot area of an image, the
plist of that hot-spot is consulted; if it contains a
property, that defines a tool-tip for the hot-spot, and if it contains
pointer property, that defines the shape of the mouse cursor when
it is on the hot-spot.
See Pointer Shape, for available pointer shapes.
When you click the mouse when the mouse pointer is over a hot-spot, an
event is composed by combining the id of the hot-spot with the
mouse event; for instance,
[area4 mouse-1] if the hot-spot’s
Note that the map’s coordinates should reflect the displayed image
after all transforms have been done (rotation, scaling and so on), and
also note that Emacs (by default) performs auto-scaling of images, so
to make things match up, you should either specify
when creating the image, or use the result of
image-compute-scaling-factor to compute the elements of the
This function returns
t if image spec has a mask bitmap.
frame is the frame on which the image will be displayed.
nil or omitted means to use the selected frame
(see Input Focus).
This function returns non-
nil if frame supports image
scaling and rotation. frame
nil or omitted means to use
the selected frame (see Input Focus). The returned list includes
symbols that indicate which image transform operations are supported:
Image scaling is supported by frame via the
Image rotation is supported by frame if the rotation angle is an integral multiple of 90 degrees.
If image transforms are not supported,
:max-height will only be usable through ImageMagick, if
available (see ImageMagick Images).
In typography an em is a distance equivalent to the height of the type. For example when using 12 point type 1 em is equal to 12 points. Its use ensures distances and type remain proportional.