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I'd like to keep dired open as a tall pane, separated horizontally from my other windows (like in TextMate). How can I move dired's path name into its modeline?

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Have you look SpeedBar? It opens new frame that show files in the current folder. Also SrSpeedBar provides same functionality in the current frame.

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Consider hiding the details instead of moving the header line (directory name) to the mode line.

  • In development builds of Emacs 24 (which will become 24.4), just hit ( (left paren character) to toggle hiding details.

  • In all versions of Emacs you can alternatively use libraries dired-details.el and dired-details+.el, available on EmacsWiki. A description is here.

The directory header line is important in Dired; it is not just a label. It becomes especially important when you insert subdirectory listings in the same Dired buffer: you can easily navigate among the main directory and subdirectories.

If you do decide to opt for hiding details, consider also using library fit-frame.el and perhaps its companion library autofit-frame.el.

They let you automatically fit the frame to the displayed buffer, and they automatically ignore the width of the directory header when doing so (it is just wrapped; only file names are used for calculating the needed frame width). They can be used to automatically refit the frame whenever you toggle hiding details.

When details are hidden this gives you a skinny frame, with the advantages of both Speedbar and Dired.

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