I am in terminal mode on Ubuntu, and I'm running emacs with 2 buffers open, one is a ruby file, and the other is a shell (opened by typing M-x shell ), and when I switch to the shell buffer, I want to run the same command that I ran before. I would normally just hit the up arrow in a terminal window, but in emacs, it simply puts the cursor up one line.

Does anyone know of keystroke to run the previous shell command from within an emacs shell?

5 Answers 5


M-p does the job

  • Thanks! I searched a bit, but couldn't find it.
    – Lidmith
    May 11, 2010 at 5:35
  • Small note for anyone else struggling with DrRacket: you may need to (require readline) before some Emacs shortcuts work in the REPL. Jun 14, 2022 at 19:53

In addition to M-p, you can also use C-up, which I find preferable. The complementary keys M-n or C-down will get you the next command in history.

  • 1
    Ah, ty. That seems more natural.
    – Lidmith
    May 12, 2010 at 17:56
  • 1
    Even though it was not put in the initial question, I have to admit that [C-up] and [C-down] do not work in Emacs via terminal (PuTTY).
    – avp
    Jun 13, 2014 at 9:01
  • 3
    It also doesn't seem to work on my Mac; C-up is mapped to a Mac-specific function.
    – amo
    Jul 22, 2014 at 18:23
  • For me too C-up is mapped to expose. And M-p feels more natural to me. Oct 8, 2014 at 9:32

You might also add this to your emacs init file:

(define-key comint-mode-map (kbd "<up>") 'comint-previous-input)
(define-key comint-mode-map (kbd "<down>") 'comint-next-input)

thiagowfx solution is preferable to me, since I usually try to avoid context-dependency. However, in order for it to work I had to add loading comint mode first:

(progn(require 'comint)
(define-key comint-mode-map (kbd "<up>") 'comint-previous-input)
(define-key comint-mode-map (kbd "<down>") 'comint-next-input))

DeLorean88's answer worked for me, but only with a second closing bracket on the "progn" line:

(progn(require 'comint))
(define-key comint-mode-map (kbd "<up>") 'comint-previous-input)
(define-key comint-mode-map (kbd "<down>") 'comint-next-input))
  • Check your file again. The second define-key should cause a syntax error as the last closing bracket is not matched by a first.
    – vfclists
    Aug 26, 2017 at 7:16

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