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Create empty modal dialog box


d = dialog
d = dialog(Name,Value)


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.


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;
          % This code uses dot notation to get properties.
          % Dot notation runs in R2014b and later.
          % For R2014a and earlier:
          % idx = get(popup,'Value');
          % popup_items = get(popup,'String');
          choice = char(popup_items(idx,:));

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

color = choosedialog

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 not recommended for use in more sophisticated applications.

Input Arguments

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Name-Value Pair Arguments

Example: 'WindowStyle','normal' sets the WindowStyle property to 'normal'.

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

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Location and size of window, specified as the vector, [left bottom width height]. This table describes the values in the Position vector. All values are in units specified by the Units property.

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.
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.
widthDistance between the right and left inner edges of the window.
heightDistance between the top and bottom inner edges of the window.


  • You cannot specify the Position property when the window is docked.

  • To place the full window, including the title bar, menu bar, tool bars, and outer edges, use the OuterPosition property.

  • The Windows® operating system enforces a minimum figure window width. If you specify a width below that value, the figure will display at the Windows minimum width.

Example: [230 250 570 510]

Data Types: double

Button-press callback function, 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. For example, 'disp(''hello world'')' calls the disp function. MATLAB evaluates this expression in the base workspace.

By default, MATLAB sets the ButtonDownFcn callback to this character vector:

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

This command makes the dialog box close when the user clicks the window. For more information about specifying a callback property value as a function handle, cell array, or character vector, see How to Specify Callback Property Values.

Window behavior, specified as one of the following:

  • 'modal' — The window appears on top of all existing windows, making them inaccessible as long as the top window exists and remains modal. However, nothing prevents the display of subsequent windows after the modal window appears.

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

  • 'docked' — The window appears in the desktop or a document window.

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'

Introduced before R2006a

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