I am following this wiki suggestion to set up Emacs so that, i can move forward and backwards in dired mode without creating new buffers.

Using the a key together with the (put 'dired-find-alternate-file 'disabled nil) setting allows me to move into directories without new buffers.

But the hook for the ^ key mentioned in the wiki is not working for me. Going to previous directory with ^ still opens new buffers.

Here are the settings I am using in my .emacs.d/init.el

; dired settings
(require 'dired-x)
(setq dired-omit-files "^\\.?#\\|^\\.$\\|^\\.\\.$\\|^\\.")
(add-hook 'dired-mode-hook (lambda ()
                             (dired-omit-mode 1)))
(setq dired-listing-switches "-aBhl --group-directories-first")
(put 'dired-find-alternate-file 'disabled nil)
(add-hook 'dired-mode-hook
 (lambda ()
  (define-key dired-mode-map (kbd "^")
    (lambda () (interactive) (find-alternate-file "..")))))
  • Your code for the keyboard shortcut looks good -- if it's opening a new buffer, your keyboard shortcut is probably not being recognized for some reason -- if you do a C-h k ^ you'll probably see that the default function dired-up-directory is still being called. Are the any error messages? I get errors when trying to load dired-x -- Key sequence * O starts with non-prefix key *
    – lawlist
    Jan 15, 2014 at 21:30
  • I believe this is the case. The define-key keyboard shortcut is not getting recognized for some reason. If i type M-x find-alternate-file and then .. it goes back without creating new buffer. Also C-h k ^ shows that ^ is bound to dired-up-directory. I do not get any errors though.
    – z33m
    Jan 16, 2014 at 4:42

1 Answer 1


Just use Dired+. Use C-M-R to toggle whether to reuse Dired buffers. Put this in your init file if you want to reuse by default:


This also takes care of ^. In sum, no need to code anything - just load Dired+.

  • I have installed dired+ over the package manager. It seems that the version of dired+ that gets installed doesnt have this function. Could i be getting outdated versions from the package archives? I have added marmalade to my package-archives list
    – z33m
    Jan 16, 2014 at 5:06
  • @z33m -- Dunno what the problem could be. That function has been in dired+.el since 2010/01/21, as the Change Log in the file shows. Visit the file and see if you don't find that function. Does C-h f for that function name really tell you it is not defined, after you have loaded dired+.el? Note that this function is not a command -- you cannot invoke it using M-x. But you can evaluate the sexp I wrote using M-: (or using C-x C-e on it in, say, *scratch* or your init file).
    – Drew
    Jan 16, 2014 at 18:30
  • yes i was trying to run it with M-x. i've added this command to my init.el and its working now. Thanks!
    – z33m
    Jan 16, 2014 at 22:22

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