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Create empty modal dialog box


d = dialog creates an empty dialog box and returns d, a Figure object. Use the uicontrol function to add user interface controls to a dialog.


d = dialog(Name,Value) specifies one or more Figure property names and corresponding values. Use this syntax to override the default properties.


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Use the uicontrol function to add user interface controls to a dialog box. For instance, create a program file called mydialog.m that displays a dialog containing text and a button.

function mydialog
    d = dialog('Position',[300 300 250 150],'Name','My Dialog');

    txt = uicontrol('Parent',d,...
               'Position',[20 80 210 40],...
               'String','Click the close button when you''re done.');

    btn = uicontrol('Parent',d,...
               'Position',[85 20 70 25],...

Next, run the mydialog function from the Command Window.


Dialog box with the title "My Dialog, the text "Click the close button when you're done", and a button labeled "Close"

Use the uiwait function to return output based on user selections in the dialog box. For instance, create a program file called choosedialog.m to perform these tasks:

  • Call the dialog function to create dialog with a specific size, location, and the title, “Select One”.

  • Call the uicontrol function three times to add text, a pop-up menu, and a button, respectively.

  • Define the function, popup_callback, to serve as the callback function for the button.

  • Call the uiwait function to wait for the user to close the dialog before returning the output to the command line.

function choice = choosedialog

    d = dialog('Position',[300 300 250 150],'Name','Select One');
    txt = uicontrol('Parent',d,...
           'Position',[20 80 210 40],...
           'String','Select a color');
    popup = uicontrol('Parent',d,...
           'Position',[75 70 100 25],...
    btn = uicontrol('Parent',d,...
           'Position',[89 20 70 25],...
    choice = 'Red';
    % Wait for d to close before running to completion
       function popup_callback(popup,event)
          idx = popup.Value;
          popup_items = popup.String;
          choice = char(popup_items(idx,:));

Run the choosedialog function from the Command Window. Then, select a color in the dialog.

color = choosedialog

Dialog box with the title "Select One", the text "Select a color", a drop-down list with the option "Blue" selected, and a button labeled "Close"

choosedialog returns the last selected color when you close the dialog.

color =



The uiwait function blocks the MATLAB® thread. Although uiwait works well in a simple modal dialog, it is not recommended for use in more sophisticated applications.

Input Arguments

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Name-Value Arguments

Example: dialog('WindowStyle','normal') sets the WindowStyle property to 'normal'.

The properties listed here are only a subset. For a complete list, see Figure Properties.

Location and size of the drawable area, specified as a vector of the form [left bottom width height]. This area excludes the figure borders, title bar, menu bar, and tool bars.

This table describes each element in the Position vector.

leftDistance from the left edge of the primary display to the inner left edge of the window. This value can be negative on systems that have more than one monitor.

If the figure is docked, then this value is relative to the Figure panel within the MATLAB desktop.
bottomDistance from the bottom edge of the primary display to the inner bottom edge of the window. This value can be negative on systems that have more than one monitor.

If the figure is docked, then this value is relative to the Figure panel within the MATLAB desktop.
widthDistance between the right and left inner edges of the dialog.
heightDistance between the top and bottom inner edges of the window.

All measurements are in units specified by the Units property.

You cannot specify the figure Position property when the figure is docked.

In MATLAB Online™, the bottom and left elements of the Position vector are ignored.

To place the full window, including the borders, title bar, menu bar, tool bars, use the OuterPosition property.


The Windows® operating system enforces a minimum window width and a maximum window size. If you specify a figure size outside of those limits, the displayed figure will conform to the limits instead of the size you specified.

Button down callback, specified as one of these values:

  • A function handle.

  • A cell array in which the first element is a function handle. Subsequent elements in the cell array are the arguments to pass to the callback function.

  • A character vector containing a valid MATLAB expression (not recommended). MATLAB evaluates this expression in the base workspace.

This callback executes whenever the user clicks a blank area of the figure.

For more information about specifying a callback property value as a function handle, cell array, or character vector, see Specify a Callback Function.

Use the SelectionType property to determine whether the user pressed modifier keys.

Window style, specified as one of the following:

  • 'modal' — The figure displays on top of all existing figure windows, making them inaccessible as long as the top figure exists and remains modal. However, any new figures created after a modal figure will display.

    When multiple modal windows exist, the most recently created window keeps focus and stays above all other windows until it becomes invisible, or is returned to a normal window style, or is deleted. At that time, focus reverts to the window that last had focus.

  • 'normal' — The figure window is independent of other windows, and the other windows are accessible while the figure is displaying.

  • 'docked' — The figure displays in the desktop or a document window. When the WindowStyle property is set to 'docked', you cannot set the DockControls property to 'off'. The 'docked' option is not supported in MATLAB Online.


These are some important characteristics of the WindowStyle property and some recommended best practices:

  • When you create UI windows, always specify the WindowStyle property. If you also want to set the Resize, Position, or OuterPosition properties of the figure, then set the WindowStyle property first.

  • You can change the WindowStyle property of a figure at any time, including when the figure is visible and contains children. However on some systems, setting this property might cause the figure to flash or disappear and reappear, depending on the system's implementation of normal and modal windows. For best visual results, set the WindowStyle property at creation time or when the figure is invisible.

  • Calling reset on a figure does not change the value of the WindowStyle property.

Modal Window Style Behavior

When WindowStyle is set to 'modal', the figure window traps all keyboard and mouse actions over all MATLAB windows as long as the windows are visible. Windows belonging to applications other than MATLAB are unaffected.

Typing Ctrl+C when a modal figure has focus causes that figure to revert to a 'normal' WindowStyle property setting. This allows the user to type at the command line.

Figures with the WindowStyle property set to 'modal' and the Visible property set to 'off' do not behave modally until MATLAB makes them visible. Therefore, you can hide a modal window for later reuse, instead of destroying it.

Modal figures do not display menu children, built-in menus, or toolbars. But, it is not an error to create menus in a modal figure or to change the WindowStyle property setting to 'modal' on a figure with menu children. The Menu objects exist and the figure retains them. If you reset the figure's WindowStyle property to 'normal', the menus display.

Output Arguments

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Dialog window, returned as a Figure object with these properties values set.

ButtonDownFcn'if isempty(allchild(gcbf)), close(gcbf), end'

Version History

Introduced before R2006a

See Also