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enable/disable entire figure window

version (6.86 KB) by Yair Altman
enable/disable entire figure window, including toolbar, menubar, frame and all contents


Updated 11 Dec 2016

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currentState = enableDisableFig(hFig, newState)

enableDisableFig sets the figure hFig's enable/disable state, which is otherwise supported by Matlab only for specific components but not figures. Using this function, the entire figure window, including all internal menus, toolbars and components, is enabled/disabled in a single call. Valid values for newState are true, false, 'on' & 'off' (case insensitive). hFig may be a list of figure handles.

Note 1: when the state is enabled, internal figure components may remain disabled if their personal 'enabled' property is 'off'.

Note 2: in disabled state, a figure cannot be moved, resized, closed or accessed. None of its menues, toolbars, buttons etc. are clickable.

enableDisableFig(newState) sets the state of the current figure (gcf).

state = enableDisableFig(hFig) returns the current enabled/disabled state of figure hFig, or of the current figure (gcf) if hFig is not supplied. The returned state is either 'on' or 'off'.

state = enableDisableFig;
state = enableDisableFig(hFig);
oldState = enableDisableFig(hFig, 'on');
oldState = enableDisableFig(hFig, result>0);
oldState = enableDisableFig(true); % on current figure

Technical description:

Bugs and suggestions:
Please send to Yair Altman (altmany at gmail dot com)

This code heavily relies on undocumented and unsupported Matlab functionality. It works on Matlab 7+, but use at your own risk!

Cite As

Yair Altman (2021). enable/disable entire figure window (, MATLAB Central File Exchange. Retrieved .

Comments and Ratings (21)

Yair Altman

This program does NOT work with uifigures or AppDesigner.

Ashwin Thombre

I get the same error as Claudio when I try this in R2019a app designer. Can this be implemented with uifigure?

Leopoldo Brasil

Yair Altman

The cursor is fixed to the default cursor (arrow) when the entire figure window is disabled - this is a system feature that cannot be changed programmatically AFAIK.

Mohammad Askari

Thanks, this is indeed very handy. It'd be great if you can fix the issue Adam mentioned below. I was also trying to do something similar and observed this bug.


Unfortunately this seems to reset the figure pointer to the arrow, which is a problem common to other options I have tried to disable interaction with a UI. It does exactly what I want apart from that, but if I have to choose I'd rather my users see a busy cursor and trust them not to click the UI when it is shown than freeze the UI with no indication that something is happening.

manuel domhoff

Yair Altman

@Kris - the new version of this utility should fix this problem

Kris Janssen

I recently tried to run this on Matlab 2016b on Mac.

I noticed an error occurring:


only works If newState is scalar (so 0 or 1). Trying to set it with 'on' or 'off' or true/false doesn't work at all.

Perhaps this is a change in 2016b? In any case, setting 0 or 1 makes the code work again.

Timo Dörsam

Yair Altman

@Claudio - if the figure is not yet visible, then its Java Frame cannot be retrieved and this utility will therefore fail to work.


It fails on my machine: Mac OSX Lion 10.7.2 with R2011b. The error is:

Error using enableDisableFig>getJFrame (line 181)
Cannot retrieve figure's java frame

Error in enableDisableFig>getJFrame (line 181)
error('Cannot retrieve figure''s java frame');

Error in enableDisableFig (line 81)
jff = getJFrame(hFig(figIdx));



@Yair Altman
Thanks, it works!

Yair Altman

@Igor - I uploaded a fix for R2011b. It should be available here shortly (maybe tomorrow)


It fails on R2011b
Error using enableDisableFig>getJFrame (line 173)
Cannot retrieve figure's java frame

Error in enableDisableFig>getJFrame (line 173)
error('Cannot retrieve figure''s java frame');

Error in enableDisableFig (line 77)
jff = getJFrame(hFig(figIdx));
any chance to get it working again?


Thanks! Exactly what i was looking for!

Malcolm Lidierth

Excellent as always Yair.
Some users might like to complement this with altering figure opacity for a disabled figure. My own MUtilities support that


Thank you. It worked like a charm.

Cat H

Does exactly what it says on the tin! I'm using it to prevent the user being able to create phantom waitbars by pressing the close button.

Many thanks!

norm thing

Thank you for this code! Works wonderfull on 2008a!

MATLAB Release Compatibility
Created with R2007a
Compatible with any release
Platform Compatibility
Windows macOS Linux

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