Say for instance I'm editing a config file and I want to type in a path. Is there a plugin for emacs that lets you complete a file path in that buffer? I've searched for this and there's like a bazillion completion plugins out there.

  • 2
    I'm not clear on what you area asking here. Modern emacen have path completion in the mini-buffer (when using find-file for instance). Do you want a similar behavior in a content buffer? Commented Nov 7, 2009 at 16:18
  • 1
    @dmckee - Yes, that's actually exactly what I'm looking for. Commented Nov 8, 2009 at 13:58
  • @dmckee Is this OS specific? I had file name completion in Find File in ubuntu but there is no completion in OSX. For instance I have a file called "reference" in root and I am in mini buffer: "Find file: ~/" and I enter "ref" and I expect completion but nothing happens. Do I need to install something?
    – Zeynel
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 0:12
  • @Zeynel Works fine for me in Mac OS, too. Either with the Apple installed version or the homebrew version. Also worked with the fink version on my older machine. Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 0:17
  • @dmckee Strange. Maybe I ask a new question. Thanks.
    – Zeynel
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 0:30

5 Answers 5


Try Hippie Expand, which as one of it's possibilities has 'try-complete-file-name. You can change the order and list of expansion functions hippie expand will use to favor expanding the file name.

Or, you could even write a custom wrapper that would only do the file name expansion. Something like:

(global-set-key (kbd "C-M-/") 'my-expand-file-name-at-point)
(defun my-expand-file-name-at-point ()
  "Use hippie-expand to expand the filename"
  (let ((hippie-expand-try-functions-list '(try-complete-file-name-partially try-complete-file-name)))
    (call-interactively 'hippie-expand)))

I usually type Ctrl-X Ctrl-F like I would open a file, but instead of pressing RET I press Ctrl-A Ctrl-K Ctrl-G to copy the path and then paste it into the buffer I was editing with Ctrl-Y.

I don't need this often enough, but if I really wanted a better solution, I would definitely use Trey Jackson's solution using hippie-expand. I thought about how hippie-expand might be a better way to do this when first answering, but I didn't know and was too lazy to look it up, so I just wrote what I do.

  • Clunky and inelegant, but working. I have to admit to doing this from time to time myself. I'm still interested in a neater solution, though... Commented Nov 7, 2009 at 21:56
  • Indeed. It doesn't really seem like a lot less work than typing it out manually though. Commented Nov 8, 2009 at 14:00
  • 1
    @Jason Baker: It depends on whether you know the exact file name or if you need to explore a bit for it.
    – Teddy
    Commented Nov 11, 2009 at 16:44

Up to version 25, the vanilla, out-of-the-box

M-x comint-dynamic-complete-filename


M-x comint-replace-by-expanded-filename

both worked outside of comint mode. Of course, you can use the minibuffer's dynamic expansion to use less keystrokes to get to them (e.g., M-x comint-dynamic-complete-filename or M-x comint-replace-by-expanded-filename). Or, if you will be doing this frequently, you can bind them to key sequences of your choice using global-set-key .

For version 26+, it seems to me that you need to make sure that comint mode is explicitly loaded --- adding a line

(require 'comint)

in your .emacs file should make this work again.

Caveat: Not all applicable comint functions can be used this way. comint-dynamic-list-filename-completions doesn't seem to work outside of its native mode.


It is also possible to do this using the company autocompletion if the company-files are in the list of company-backends (default in my installation) or explicitly by calling company-files.

  • With Doom emacs, C-x C-f after typing the partial path, it works the charm!
    – Yu Shen
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 21:40

I recently discovered the works of Tomohiro Matsuyama (@m2ym) and I have been very impressed by the quality of its emacs packages.

I have struggled with most auto-completion extensions and found out that they all have major shortcomings.

Check out Tomo's auto-complete (http://auto-complete.org/doc/manual.html) it has been a breeze to install (I'm on Linux) and covers many auto-completion needs in a modern fashion.

Of course, your request for in-buffer file names completion is perfectly covered.

Finally, if you happen to do Ruby too, make sure not to miss his RSense extension; again, the best of its kind.


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