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
       described in zshcompwid(1).  This manual entry describes the older
       compctl 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
       command 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 combined 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
              command with a pathname containing slashes and no completion
              definition 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
              beginning 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
              normal, 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
              determined 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
              completed.  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
              commands not assigned any special behavior.  If no compctl -D
              command 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
              specific commands.  This is especially useful when combined with
              extended completion (the -x flag, see the section `Extended
              Completion' below).  Using this flag you can define default
              behavior 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 contains 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
       options 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
       insensitive 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,
              reserved 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

       -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
       completions 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
              backslash; in this case the argument should be quoted.  For

                     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 `*(/)'
              instead 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

       -s subststring
              The subststring is split into words and these words are than
              expanded using all shell expansion mechanisms (see zshexpn(1)).
              The resulting words are taken as possible completions.  The
              fignore 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
       manipulate 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
              appropriate for filenames and ordinary strings.  However, for
              special effects, such as inserting a backquoted expression from
              a completion 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
              prefix 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
              completed string.  In the case of menu completion the suffix is
              inserted 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
              parenthesis. 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
              character; this the same rule used for the AUTO_REMOVE_SLASH
              option.  The option is most useful for list separators (comma,
              colon, etc.).

       -l cmd This option restricts the range of command line words that are
              considered to be arguments.  If combined with one of the
              extended 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
              option, completion can be done separately on different parts of
              such strings. It works like the -l option but makes the
              completion code work on the parts of the current word that are
              separated by spaces. These parts are completed as if they were
              arguments 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
              completions 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
              explanation 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 explanation string.

              The sequences %B, %b, %S, %s, %U, and %u specify output
              attributes (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
              expansion 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

       -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
              completions 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-',
              compctl 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
              completion 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
              duplicates 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
              different 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
              described 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
       completion 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
       corresponding 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
              negative: -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
              corresponding 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
              considered 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
              hostnames, though you must make the array yourself) will be
              completed.  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
              completion 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                        February 14, 2020                 ZSHCOMPCTL(1)