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Create or update wait bar dialog box




In App Designer and apps created with the uifigure function, uiprogressdlg is recommended over waitbar because it provides additional customization options.

f = waitbar(x,msg) creates a nonmodal dialog box containing a wait bar with the specified message. The wait bar is fractional length x. The dialog box remains open until the code that controls it closes it or the user clicks the close button (X) in the dialog box title bar. The Figure object is returned as f.

Use the waitbar function if you want to show a wait bar dialog box over multiple app windows, the MATLAB® desktop, or Simulink® and still be able to interact with them before responding to the dialog box.


f = waitbar(x,msg,Name,Value) specifies additional options using one or more name-value pair arguments that set figure properties on the dialog box. For example, 'Name','Progress' sets the dialog box name to Progress. Specify name-value pair arguments after all other input arguments.

waitbar(x) updates the length of the bar in the current wait bar dialog box to x. Successive values of x normally increase. If they decrease, the wait bar runs in reverse.

waitbar(x,f) updates the length of the bar in the wait bar dialog box f to the new position x.


waitbar(x,f,msg) updates the message in the wait bar dialog box f.


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Create a wait bar dialog box that updates the fractional wait bar length and message at three points in the code.

Use this code to simulate performing a lengthy computation. The pause function passes the figure object of the first wait bar dialog box to subsequent waitbar function calls. Passing the figure object this way ensures that the dialog box is updated at each point, rather than recreated. When the simulated calculation completes, the dialog box closes.

function basicwaitbar
f = waitbar(0,'Please wait...');

waitbar(.33,f,'Loading your data');

waitbar(.67,f,'Processing your data');



Wait bar about 1/3 of the full length with text "Loading your data"

Add a Cancel button to enable a user to stop an in-progress computation.

Use the following code to converge on the value of pi in for loop iterations, updating the wait bar and message with each iteration. When a user clicks the Cancel button MATLAB sets a logical flag, 'canceling', to 1 (true) in the figure application data (appdata). The code tests for that value within the for loop and exits the loop if the flag value is 1.

Set the CreateCancelBtn callback to a character vector value. This practice is not recommended unless the code specified by the value is simple, such as is the case in this callback code. For more information, see Create Callbacks for Apps Created Programmatically.

function approxpi

f = waitbar(0,'1','Name','Approximating pi...',...


% Approximate pi^2/8 as: 1 + 1/9 + 1/25 + 1/49 + ...
pisqover8 = 1;
denom = 3;
valueofpi = sqrt(8 * pisqover8);

steps = 20000;
for step = 1:steps
    % Check for clicked Cancel button
    if getappdata(f,'canceling')
    % Update waitbar and message
    % Calculate next estimate 
    pisqover8 = pisqover8 + 1 / (denom * denom);
    denom = denom + 2;
    valueofpi = sqrt(8 * pisqover8);


Wait bar with title "Approximating pi..." and a Cancel button. The text is an approximation of pi, and the bar length is a fraction of the full length.

Input Arguments

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Fractional wait bar length, specified as a real number between 0 and 1. Successive values of x normally increase. If they decrease, then the wait bar runs in reverse.

Example: .75

Wait bar message, specified as a character vector, cell array of character vectors, or string array. The message displays within the dialog box, above the progress bar.

  • If you specify the message as a character vector, then a long message wraps to fit the dialog box.

  • If you specify the message as a cell array of character vectors, then line breaks occur between each array element. Long elements wrap to fit the dialog box.

Example: 'Please Wait'

Example: {'Please wait', 'The operation is processing'}

Figure object of a previously created wait bar dialog box, specified as the output variable used when that figure object was created.

Name-Value Arguments

Specify optional pairs of arguments as Name1=Value1,...,NameN=ValueN, where Name is the argument name and Value is the corresponding value. Name-value arguments must appear after other arguments, but the order of the pairs does not matter.

Before R2021a, use commas to separate each name and value, and enclose Name in quotes.

Example: 'Name','Wait Bar'


The properties listed here are only a subset of the properties you can set. For a full list, see Figure Properties.

Cancel button callback, specified as a function handle, cell array, or character vector (not recommended). MATLAB sets both the Cancel button callback and the figure CloseRequestFcn callback value to the commands specified by the callback argument value. For more information, see Create Callbacks for Apps Created Programmatically.


Call the delete function to remove a wait bar dialog box when you specify a CreateCancelBtn callback. When you specify the CreateCancelBtn callback, the close function does not close the dialog box and makes the Cancel and close (X) buttons unresponsive. This situation occurs because the CreateCancelBtn callback recursively calls itself. In such a situation, you must forcibly remove the wait bar, for example using code such as this:

However, issuing these commands deletes all open figures, not just the wait bar dialog box.

Example: waitbar(.5,'Processing','CreateCancelBtn',@myfun) specifies the CreateCancelBtn callback function as a function handle.

Example: waitbar(.5,'Processing','CreateCancelBtn',{@myfun,x}) specifies the CreateCancelBtn callback function as a cell array. In this case, the function accepts the input argument, x.

Name of the figure, specified as a character vector or a string scalar.

Example: figure('Name','Results') sets the name of the figure to 'Results'.

By default, the name is 'Figure n', where n is an integer. When you specify the Name property, the title of the figure becomes 'Figure n: name'. If you want only the Name value to appear, set IntegerHandle or NumberTitle to 'off'.

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 waitbar.
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.

Units of measurement, specified as one of the values from this table.

Units ValueDescription
'pixels' (default)


Starting in R2015b, distances in pixels are independent of your system resolution on Windows and Macintosh systems:

  • On Windows systems, a pixel is 1/96th of an inch.

  • On Macintosh systems, a pixel is 1/72nd of an inch.

On Linux® systems, the size of a pixel is determined by your system resolution.

'normalized'These units are normalized with respect to the parent container. The lower-left corner of the container maps to (0,0) and the upper-right corner maps to (1,1).
'points'Points. One point equals 1/72nd of an inch.

These units are based on the default uicontrol font of the graphics root object:

  • Character width = width of the letter x.

  • Character height = distance between the baselines of two lines of text.

To access the default uicontrol font, use get(groot,'defaultuicontrolFontName') or set(groot,'defaultuicontrolFontName').

MATLAB measures all units from the lower left corner of the parent object.

This property affects the Position property. If you change the Units property, consider returning its value to the default value after completing your computation to avoid affecting other functions that assume the default value.

The order in which you specify the Units and Position properties has these effects:

  • If you specify the Units before the Position property, then MATLAB sets Position using the units you specify.

  • If you specify the Units property after the Position property, MATLAB sets the position using the default Units. Then, MATLAB converts the Position value to the equivalent value in the units you specify.

Window style, specified as one of the following:

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

  • '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.

  • '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.

More About

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Modal Dialog Box

A modal dialog box prevents a user from interacting with other MATLAB windows before responding to the dialog box.

Nonmodal Dialog Box

A nonmodal dialog box enables a user to interact with other MATLAB windows before responding to the dialog box. A nonmodal dialog box is also referred to as a normal dialog box.

Wait Bar

An indicator that displays what percentage of a calculation is complete as the calculation proceeds by progressively filling a bar with color from left to right. A wait bar is also referred to as a progress bar.


  • To create a modal progress dialog box for single-window App Designer or uifigure-based apps, use the uiprogressdlg function instead.

Version History

Introduced before R2006a