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Current axes handle




ax = gca returns the current axes for the current figure. If an axes does not exist, then gca creates one. You can use ax to query and modify axes properties.


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Plot a sine wave.

x = linspace(0,10);
y = sin(4*x);

Set the font size, tick direction, tick length, and y-axis limits for the current axes. Use gca to refer to the current axes.

Note: Starting in R2014b, you can use dot notation to set properties. If you are using an earlier release, use the set function instead, such as set(ax,'FontSize',12).

ax = gca; % current axes
ax.FontSize = 12;
ax.TickDir = 'out';
ax.TickLength = [0.02 0.02];
ax.YLim = [-2 2];

Output Arguments

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Current axes, returned as an axes object or a polar axes object. You can use ax to query and modify axes properties. For a list of properties, see Axes Properties or Polar Axes Properties.

More About

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Current Axes

The current axes is the target for graphics output. It is the axes in which graphics commands such as plot, text, and surf draw their results. It is typically the last axes created or the last axes clicked with the mouse. Changing the current figure also changes the current axes.

User interaction can change the current axes. If you need to access a specific axes, store the axes handle in your program code when you create the axes and use this handle instead of gca.


  • To access the current axes without forcing the creation of an axes if one does not exist, query the figure CurrentAxes property. MATLAB® returns an empty array if there is no current axes. Starting in R2014b, you can query properties using dot notation. If you are using an earlier release, use the get function instead, such as ax = get(fig,'CurrentAxes').

    fig = gcf;
    ax = fig.CurrentAxes;

  • Set axes properties after plotting since some plotting functions reset axes properties.

See Also



Introduced before R2006a

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