Sometimes it is useful to track the mouse, which means to display something to indicate where the mouse is and move the indicator as the mouse moves. For efficient mouse tracking, you need a way to wait until the mouse actually moves.
The convenient way to track the mouse is to ask for events to represent mouse motion. Then you can wait for motion by waiting for an event. In addition, you can easily handle any other sorts of events that may occur. That is useful, because normally you don’t want to track the mouse forever—only until some other event, such as the release of a button.
This macro executes body, with generation of mouse motion events
enabled. Typically, body would use
read-event to read
the motion events and modify the display accordingly. See Motion Events, for the format of mouse motion events.
The value of
track-mouse is that of the last form in
body. You should design body to return when it sees the
up-event that indicates the release of the button, or whatever kind of
event means it is time to stop tracking. Its value also controls how
mouse events are reported while a mouse button is held down: if it is
drag-source, the motion events are reported
relative to the frame underneath the pointer. If there is no such
frame, the events will be reported relative to the frame the mouse
buttons were first pressed on. In addition, the
the mouse position list will be
nil if the value is
drag-source. This is useful to determine if a frame is not
directly visible underneath the mouse pointer.
track-mouse macro causes Emacs to generate mouse motion
events by binding the variable
track-mouse to a
nil value. If that variable has the special value
dragging, it additionally instructs the display engine to
refrain from changing the shape of the mouse pointer. This is
desirable in Lisp programs that require mouse dragging across large
portions of Emacs display, which might otherwise cause the mouse
pointer to change its shape according to the display portion it hovers
on (see Pointer Shape). Therefore, Lisp programs that need the
mouse pointer to retain its original shape during dragging should bind
track-mouse to the value
dragging at the beginning of
The usual purpose of tracking mouse motion is to indicate on the screen the consequences of pushing or releasing a button at the current position.
In many cases, you can avoid the need to track the mouse by using
mouse-face text property (see Properties with Special Meanings).
That works at a much lower level and runs more smoothly than
Lisp-level mouse tracking.