Skip site navigation (1)Skip section navigation (2)

FreeBSD Manual Pages


home | help
ZSHCOMPCTL(1)		    General Commands Manual		 ZSHCOMPCTL(1)

       zshcompctl - zsh	programmable completion

       This  version  of zsh has two ways of performing	completion of words on
       the command line.  New users of the shell may prefer to use  the	 newer
       and more	powerful system	based on shell functions; this is described in
       zshcompsys(1), and the basic shell mechanisms which support it are  de-
       scribed	in  zshcompwid(1).  This manual	entry describes	the older com-
       pctl command.

       compctl [ -CDT ]	options	[ command ... ]
       compctl [ -CDT ]	options	[ -x pattern options - ... -- ]
	       [ + options [ -x	... -- ] ... [+] ] [ command ... ]
       compctl -M match-specs ...
       compctl -L [ -CDTM ] [ command ... ]
       compctl + command ...

       Control the editor's completion behavior	according to the supplied  set
       of options.  Various editing commands, notably expand-or-complete-word,
       usually bound to	tab, will attempt to complete  a  word	typed  by  the
       user, while others, notably delete-char-or-list,	usually	bound to ^D in
       EMACS editing mode, list	the possibilities; compctl controls what those
       possibilities  are.  They may for example be filenames (the most	common
       case, and  hence	 the  default),	 shell	variables,  or	words  from  a
       user-specified list.

       Completion of the arguments of a	command	may be different for each com-
       mand or may use the default.  The behavior when completing the  command
       word  itself may	also be	separately specified.  These correspond	to the
       following flags and arguments, all of which (except for -L) may be com-
       bined with any combination of the options described subsequently	in the
       section `Option Flags':

       command ...
	      controls completion for the named	commands, which	must be	listed
	      last on the command line.	 If completion is attempted for	a com-
	      mand with	a pathname containing slashes and no completion	 defi-
	      nition  is  found,  the search is	retried	with the last pathname
	      component. If the	command	starts with a =, completion  is	 tried
	      with the pathname	of the command.

	      Any  of the command strings may be patterns of the form normally
	      used for filename	generation.  These should be quoted to protect
	      them  from  immediate  expansion;	for example the	command	string
	      'foo*' arranges for completion of	the words of any  command  be-
	      ginning  with  foo.   When  completion is	attempted, all pattern
	      completions are tried in the reverse order of  their  definition
	      until one	matches.  By default, completion then proceeds as nor-
	      mal, i.e.	the shell will try to generate more  matches  for  the
	      specific	command	on the command line; this can be overridden by
	      including	-tn in the flags for the pattern completion.

	      Note that	aliases	are expanded before the	command	name is	deter-
	      mined  unless  the COMPLETE_ALIASES option is set.  Commands may
	      not be combined with the -C, -D or -T flags.

       -C     controls completion when the command word	itself is  being  com-
	      pleted.  If no compctl -C	command	has been issued,  the names of
	      any executable command (whether in the path or specific  to  the
	      shell, such as aliases or	functions) are completed.

       -D     controls	default	 completion behavior for the arguments of com-
	      mands not	assigned any special behavior.	If no compctl -D  com-
	      mand has been issued, filenames are completed.

       -T     supplies completion flags	to be used before any other processing
	      is done, even before processing for compctls  defined  for  spe-
	      cific  commands.	 This  is especially useful when combined with
	      extended completion (the -x flag,	see the	section	`Extended Com-
	      pletion'	below).	 Using this flag you can define	default	behav-
	      ior which	will apply to all commands without exception,  or  you
	      can  alter the standard behavior for all commands.  For example,
	      if your access to	the user database is too slow and/or  it  con-
	      tains  too  many users (so that completion after `~' is too slow
	      to be usable), you can use

		     compctl -T	-x 's[~] C[0,[^/]#]' -k	friends	-S/ -tn

	      to complete the strings in the array friends after a  `~'.   The
	      C[...]  argument	is necessary so	that this form of ~-completion
	      is not tried after the directory name is finished.

       -L     lists the	existing completion behavior in	a manner suitable  for
	      putting  into  a	start-up  script; the existing behavior	is not
	      changed.	Any combination	of the above forms,  or	 the  -M  flag
	      (which must follow the -L	flag), may be specified, otherwise all
	      defined completions are listed.  Any other  flags	 supplied  are

       no argument
	      If  no  argument is given, compctl lists all defined completions
	      in an abbreviated	form;  with a list of options, all completions
	      with  those  flags  set  (not  counting extended completion) are

       If the +	flag is	alone and followed immediately by  the	command	 list,
       the  completion	behavior  for all the commands in the list is reset to
       the default.  In	other words, completion	will subsequently use the  op-
       tions specified by the -D flag.

       The  form  with -M as the first and only	option defines global matching
       specifications (see zshcompwid).	The match specifications given will be
       used  for  every	 completion attempt (only when using compctl, not with
       the new completion system) and are tried	in the order in	which they are
       defined until one generates at least one	match. E.g.:

	      compctl -M '' 'm:{a-zA-Z}={A-Za-z}'

       This  will first	try completion without any global match	specifications
       (the empty string) and, if that generates no matches, will try case in-
       sensitive completion.

       [ -fcFBdeaRGovNAIOPZEnbjrzu/12 ]
       [ -k array ] [ -g globstring ] [	-s subststring ]
       [ -K function ]
       [ -Q ] [	-P prefix ] [ -S suffix	]
       [ -W file-prefix	] [ -H num pattern ]
       [ -q ] [	-X explanation ] [ -Y explanation ]
       [ -y func-or-var	] [ -l cmd ] [ -h cmd ]	[ -U ]
       [ -t continue ] [ -J name ] [ -V	name ]
       [ -M match-spec ]

       The remaining options specify the type of command arguments to look for
       during completion.  Any combination of these flags  may	be  specified;
       the  result is a	sorted list of all the possibilities.  The options are
       as follows.

   Simple Flags
       These produce completion	lists made up by the shell itself:

       -f     Filenames	and file system	paths.

       -/     Just file	system paths.

       -c     Command names, including aliases,	shell functions, builtins  and
	      reserved words.

       -F     Function names.

       -B     Names of builtin commands.

       -m     Names of external	commands.

       -w     Reserved words.

       -a     Alias names.

       -R     Names of regular (non-global) aliases.

       -G     Names of global aliases.

       -d     This can be combined with	-F, -B,	-w, -a,	-R and -G to get names
	      of disabled functions, builtins, reserved	words or aliases.

       -e     This option (to show enabled commands) is	in effect by  default,
	      but may be combined with -d; -de in combination with -F, -B, -w,
	      -a, -R and -G will complete names	of  functions,	builtins,  re-
	      served words or aliases whether or not they are disabled.

       -o     Names of shell options (see zshoptions(1)).

       -v     Names of any variable defined in the shell.

       -N     Names of scalar (non-array) parameters.

       -A     Array names.

       -I     Names of integer variables.

       -O     Names of read-only variables.

       -p     Names of parameters used by the shell (including special parame-

       -Z     Names of shell special parameters.

       -E     Names of environment variables.

       -n     Named directories.

       -b     Key binding names.

       -j     Job names:  the first word of the	 job  leader's	command	 line.
	      This is useful with the kill builtin.

       -r     Names of running jobs.

       -z     Names of suspended jobs.

       -u     User names.

   Flags with Arguments
       These have user supplied	arguments to determine how the list of comple-
       tions is	to be made up:

       -k array
	      Names taken from the elements of $array (note that the `$'  does
	      not  appear  on  the command line).  Alternatively, the argument
	      array itself may be a set	of space- or comma-separated values in
	      parentheses,  in which any delimiter may be escaped with a back-
	      slash; in	this case the argument should be quoted.  For example,

		     compctl -k	"(cputime filesize datasize stacksize
				 coredumpsize resident descriptors)" limit

       -g globstring
	      The globstring is	expanded using filename	globbing; it should be
	      quoted  to  protect  it  from immediate expansion. The resulting
	      filenames	are taken as the possible completions.	Use `*(/)' in-
	      stead of `*/' for	directories.  The fignore special parameter is
	      not applied to the resulting files.  More	than one  pattern  may
	      be  given	separated by blanks. (Note that	brace expansion	is not
	      part of globbing.	 Use the syntax	`(either|or)' to match	alter-

       -s subststring
	      The subststring is split into words and these words are than ex-
	      panded using all shell expansion	mechanisms  (see  zshexpn(1)).
	      The resulting words are taken as possible	completions.  The fig-
	      nore special parameter is	not applied to	the  resulting	files.
	      Note that	-g is faster for filenames.

       -K function
	      Call the given function to get the completions.  Unless the name
	      starts with an underscore, the function is passed	two arguments:
	      the  prefix and the suffix of the	word on	which completion is to
	      be attempted, in other words those characters before the	cursor
	      position,	and those from the cursor position onwards.  The whole
	      command line can be accessed with	the -c and  -l	flags  of  the
	      read  builtin.  The function should set the variable reply to an
	      array containing the completions (one completion	per  element);
	      note  that reply should not be made local	to the function.  From
	      such a function the command line can be accessed with the	-c and
	      -l flags to the read builtin.  For example,

		     function whoson { reply=(`users`);	}
		     compctl -K	whoson talk

	      completes	only logged-on users after `talk'.  Note that `whoson'
	      must return an array, so `reply=`users`' would be	incorrect.

       -H num pattern
	      The possible completions are taken from  the  last  num  history
	      lines.   Only  words matching pattern are	taken.	If num is zero
	      or negative the whole history is searched	and if pattern is  the
	      empty  string  all words are taken (as with `*').	 A typical use

		     compctl -D	-f + -H	0 ''

	      which forces completion to look back in the history list	for  a
	      word if no filename matches.

   Control Flags
       These do	not directly specify types of name to be completed, but	manip-
       ulate the options that do:

       -Q     This instructs the shell not to quote any	metacharacters in  the
	      possible	completions.  Normally the results of a	completion are
	      inserted into the	command	line with any metacharacters quoted so
	      that  they are interpreted as normal characters.	This is	appro-
	      priate for filenames and ordinary	strings.  However, for special
	      effects,	such  as inserting a backquoted	expression from	a com-
	      pletion array (-k) so that the expression	will not be  evaluated
	      until the	complete line is executed, this	option must be used.

       -P prefix
	      The  prefix  is  inserted	 just before the completed string; any
	      initial part already typed will be completed and the whole  pre-
	      fix ignored for completion purposes.  For	example,

		     compctl -j	-P "%" kill

	      inserts  a  `%'  after  the  kill	command	and then completes job

       -S suffix
	      When a completion	is found the suffix is inserted	after the com-
	      pleted string.  In the case of menu completion the suffix	is in-
	      serted immediately, but it is still possible  to	cycle  through
	      the list of completions by repeatedly hitting the	same key.

       -W file-prefix
	      With  directory  file-prefix:   for command, file, directory and
	      globbing completion (options -c, -f, -/, -g), the	file prefix is
	      implicitly added in front	of the completion.  For	example,

		     compctl -/	-W ~/Mail maildirs

	      completes	 any subdirectories to any depth beneath the directory
	      ~/Mail, although that prefix does	 not  appear  on  the  command
	      line.   The  file-prefix may also	be of the form accepted	by the
	      -k flag, i.e. the	name of	an array or a literal list  in	paren-
	      thesis.  In  this	 case  all the directories in the list will be
	      searched for possible completions.

       -q     If used with a suffix as specified by the	-S option, this	causes
	      the  suffix to be	removed	if the next character typed is a blank
	      or does not insert anything or if	the suffix  consists  of  only
	      one  character  and the next character typed is the same charac-
	      ter; this	the same rule used for the  AUTO_REMOVE_SLASH  option.
	      The  option  is  most  useful for	list separators	(comma,	colon,

       -l cmd This option restricts the	range of command line words  that  are
	      considered  to  be  arguments.   If combined with	one of the ex-
	      tended completion	patterns `p[...]', `r[...]', or	`R[...]'  (see
	      the section `Extended Completion'	below) the range is restricted
	      to the range of arguments	specified in the brackets.  Completion
	      is then performed	as if these had	been given as arguments	to the
	      cmd supplied with	the option. If the cmd	string	is  empty  the
	      first  word  in  the range is instead taken as the command name,
	      and command name completion performed on the first word  in  the
	      range.  For example,

		     compctl -x	'r[-exec,;]' -l	'' -- find

	      completes	 arguments  between  `-exec' and the following `;' (or
	      the end of the command line if there is no such  string)	as  if
	      they were	a separate command line.

       -h cmd Normally	zsh completes quoted strings as	a whole. With this op-
	      tion, completion can be done separately on  different  parts  of
	      such  strings. It	works like the -l option but makes the comple-
	      tion code	work on	the parts of the current word that  are	 sepa-
	      rated by spaces. These parts are completed as if they were argu-
	      ments to the given cmd. If cmd is	the empty  string,  the	 first
	      part is completed	as a command name, as with -l.

       -U     Use  the whole list of possible completions, whether or not they
	      actually match the word on the command line.  The	word typed  so
	      far will be deleted.  This is most useful	with a function	(given
	      by the -K	option)	which can examine the word  components	passed
	      to  it  (or  via the read	builtin's -c and -l flags) and use its
	      own criteria to decide what matches.  If there is	no completion,
	      the original word	is retained.  Since the	produced possible com-
	      pletions seldom have interesting common prefixes	and  suffixes,
	      menu  completion	is started immediately if AUTO_MENU is set and
	      this flag	is used.

       -y func-or-var
	      The list provided	by func-or-var is  displayed  instead  of  the
	      list  of	completions whenever a listing is required; the	actual
	      completions to be	inserted are not affected.  It can be provided
	      in  two ways. Firstly, if	func-or-var begins with	a $ it defines
	      a	variable, or if	it begins with a left  parenthesis  a  literal
	      array, which contains the	list.  A variable may have been	set by
	      a	call to	a function using the -K	option.	 Otherwise it contains
	      the  name	 of  a	function  which	will be	executed to create the
	      list.  The function will be  passed  as  an  argument  list  all
	      matching	completions,  including	prefixes and suffixes expanded
	      in full, and should set the array	reply to the result.  In  both
	      cases,  the display list will only be retrieved after a complete
	      list of matches has been created.

	      Note that	the returned list does not have	to correspond, even in
	      length,  to  the original	set of matches,	and may	be passed as a
	      scalar instead of	an array.  No special formatting of characters
	      is performed on the output in this case; in particular, newlines
	      are printed literally and	if they	appear output  in  columns  is

       -X explanation
	      Print  explanation  when trying completion on the	current	set of
	      options. A `%n' in this string is	 replaced  by  the  number  of
	      matches that were	added for this explanation string.  The	expla-
	      nation only appears if completion	was tried  and	there  was  no
	      unique  match,  or when listing completions. Explanation strings
	      will be listed together with the matches of the group  specified
	      together	with the -X option (using the -J or -V option).	If the
	      same explanation string is given to  multiple  -X	 options,  the
	      string  appears  only  once  (for	 each group) and the number of
	      matches shown for	the `%n' is the	total number  of  all  matches
	      for each of these	uses. In any case, the explanation string will
	      only be shown if there was at least one match added for the  ex-
	      planation	string.

	      The  sequences  %B,  %b,	%S,  %s, %U, and %u specify output at-
	      tributes (bold, standout,	and underline),	%F, %f,	%K, %k specify
	      foreground  and  background  colours, and	%{...%}	can be used to
	      include literal escape sequences as in prompts.

       -Y explanation
	      Identical	to -X, except that the explanation first undergoes ex-
	      pansion  following the usual rules for strings in	double quotes.
	      The expansion will be carried out	after any functions are	called
	      for the -K or -y options,	allowing them to set variables.

       -t continue
	      The  continue-string  contains  a	character that specifies which
	      set of completion	flags should be	used next.  It is useful:

	      (i) With -T, or when trying a list of pattern completions,  when
	      compctl  would  usually  continue	with ordinary processing after
	      finding matches; this can	be suppressed with `-tn'.

	      (ii) With	a list of alternatives separated by  +,	 when  compctl
	      would  normally  stop  when  one	of  the	alternatives generates
	      matches.	It can be forced to consider the next set  of  comple-
	      tions by adding `-t+' to the flags of the	alternative before the

	      (iii) In an extended completion list (see	below),	 when  compctl
	      would  normally  continue	 until	a set of conditions succeeded,
	      then use only the	immediately following flags.  With `-t-', com-
	      pctl  will  continue  trying extended completions	after the next
	      `-'; with	`-tx' it will  attempt	completion  with  the  default
	      flags, in	other words those before the `-x'.

       -J name
	      This  gives  the	name of	the group the matches should be	placed
	      in. Groups are listed and	sorted separately; likewise, menu com-
	      pletion  will  offer  the	 matches in the	groups in the order in
	      which the	groups were defined. If	no group  name	is  explicitly
	      given,  the  matches  are	 stored	 in a group named default. The
	      first time a group name is encountered, a	group with  that  name
	      is  created. After that all matches with the same	group name are
	      stored in	that group.

	      This can be useful with non-exclusive  alternative  completions.
	      For example, in

		     compctl -f	-J files -t+ + -v -J variables foo

	      both  files  and	variables are possible completions, as the -t+
	      forces both sets of alternatives before and after	the  +	to  be
	      considered  at  once.   Because  of the -J options, however, all
	      files are	listed before all variables.

       -V name
	      Like -J, but matches within the group  will  not	be  sorted  in
	      listings	nor in menu completion.	These unsorted groups are in a
	      different	name space from	the sorted ones, so groups defined  as
	      -J files and -V files are	distinct.

       -1     If given together	with the -V option, makes only consecutive du-
	      plicates in the group be removed.	 Note  that  groups  with  and
	      without this flag	are in different name spaces.

       -2     If given together	with the -J or -V option, makes	all duplicates
	      be kept. Again, groups with and without this flag	are in differ-
	      ent name spaces.

       -M match-spec
	      This  defines  additional	 matching  control specifications that
	      should be	used only when testing words for  the  list  of	 flags
	      this flag	appears	in. The	format of the match-spec string	is de-
	      scribed in zshcompwid.

       compctl [ -CDT ]	options	+ options [ + ... ] [ +	] command ...

       The form	with `+' specifies alternative options.	 Completion  is	 tried
       with the	options	before the first `+'. If this produces no matches com-
       pletion is tried	with the flags after the `+' and so on.	If  there  are
       no  flags  after	the last `+' and a match has not been found up to that
       point, default completion is tried.  If the list	of flags contains a -t
       with  a + character, the	next list of flags is used even	if the current
       list produced matches.

       Additional options are available	that restrict completion to some  part
       of the command line; this is referred to	as `extended completion'.

       compctl [ -CDT ]	options	-x pattern options - ... --
	       [ command ... ]
       compctl [ -CDT ]	options	[ -x pattern options - ... -- ]
	       [ + options [ -x	... -- ] ... [+] ] [ command ... ]

       The  form  with	`-x'  specifies	 extended  completion for the commands
       given; as shown,	it may be combined with	alternative  completion	 using
       `+'.  Each pattern is examined in turn; when a match is found, the cor-
       responding options, as described	in the section `Option	Flags'	above,
       are  used to generate possible completions.  If no pattern matches, the
       options given before the	-x are used.

       Note that each pattern should be	supplied  as  a	 single	 argument  and
       should be quoted	to prevent expansion of	metacharacters by the shell.

       A  pattern  is built of sub-patterns separated by commas; it matches if
       at least	one of these sub-patterns matches  (they  are  `or'ed).	 These
       sub-patterns  are  in  turn composed of other sub-patterns separated by
       white spaces which match	if all of the  sub-patterns  match  (they  are
       `and'ed).  An element of	the sub-patterns is of the form	`c[...][...]',
       where the pairs of brackets may be repeated as often as necessary,  and
       matches	if  any	 of the	sets of	brackets match (an `or').  The example
       below makes this	clearer.

       The elements may	be any of the following:

	      Matches if the current word on the command line starts with  one
	      of the strings given in brackets.	 The string is not removed and
	      is not part of the completion.

	      Like s[string] except that the string is part of the completion.

	      Matches if the number of the current word	is between one of  the
	      from  and	 to pairs inclusive. The comma and to are optional; to
	      defaults to the same value as from.  The numbers	may  be	 nega-
	      tive: -n refers to the n'th last word on the line.

	      Matches if the string matches the	word offset by offset from the
	      current word position.  Usually offset will be negative.

	      Like c but using pattern matching	instead.

	      Matches if the word in position index is	equal  to  the	corre-
	      sponding	string.	  Note	that  the word count is	made after any
	      alias expansion.

	      Like w but using pattern matching	instead.

	      Matches if the current word contains string.  Anything up	to and
	      including	the indexth occurrence of this string will not be con-
	      sidered part of the completion, but the rest will.  index	may be
	      negative	to  count from the end:	in most	cases, index will be 1
	      or -1.  For example,

		     compctl -s	'`users`' -x 'n[1,@]' -k hosts -- talk

	      will usually complete usernames, but if you insert  an  @	 after
	      the  name,  names	from the array hosts (assumed to contain host-
	      names, though you	must make the array  yourself)	will  be  com-
	      pleted.  Other commands such as rcp can be handled similarly.

	      Like  n  except  that  the  string  will be taken	as a character
	      class.  Anything up to and including the indexth	occurrence  of
	      any  of  the characters in string	will not be considered part of
	      the completion.

	      Matches if the total number of words lies	between	 min  and  max

	      Matches  if  the	cursor	is  after a word with prefix str1.  If
	      there is also a word with	prefix str2 on the command line	 after
	      the  one matched by str1 it matches only if the cursor is	before
	      this word. If the	comma and str2 are omitted, it matches if  the
	      cursor is	after a	word with prefix str1.

	      Like r but using pattern matching	instead.

	      Matches  the  word currently being completed is in single	quotes
	      and the str begins with the letter `s', or if completion is done
	      in  double quotes	and str	starts with the	letter `d', or if com-
	      pletion is done in backticks and str starts with a `b'.

	      compctl -u -x 's[+] c[-1,-f],s[-f+]' \
		-g '~/Mail/*(:t)' - 's[-f],c[-1,-f]' -f	-- mail

       This is to be interpreted as follows:

       If the current command is mail, then

	      if ((the current word begins with	+ and the previous word	is -f)
	      or (the current word begins with -f+)), then complete the
	      non-directory part (the `:t' glob	modifier) of files in the directory
	      ~/Mail; else

	      if the current word begins with -f or the	previous word was -f, then
	      complete any file; else

	      complete user names.

zsh 5.8.1		       February	12, 2022		 ZSHCOMPCTL(1)


Want to link to this manual page? Use this URL:

home | help