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ZSHCOMPCTL(1)                                                    ZSHCOMPCTL(1)



NAME
       zshcompctl - zsh programmable completion

DESCRIPTION
       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  zshcomp-
       sys(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.


COMMAND FLAGS
       Completion of the arguments of a command may be different for each command or may use the default.  The  behav-
       ior  when completing the command word itself may also be separately specified.  These correspond to the follow-
       ing 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 comple-
              tion 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 =, comple-
              tion 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  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 pat-
              tern 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 comple-
              tion (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 ignored.

       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 listed.

       If the + flag is alone and followed immediately by the command list, the completion behavior for all  the  com-
       mands in the list is reset to the default.  In other words, completion will subsequently use the options speci-
       fied 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 gener-
       ates no matches, will try case insensitive completion.


OPTION FLAGS
       [ -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 fol-
       lows.


   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 com-
              bination 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 parameters).

       -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).  Alter-
              natively, 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
              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 '*(/)' 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 alternatives.)

       -s subststring
              The subststring is split into words and these words are than expanded using all shell  expansion  mecha-
              nisms  (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 is

                     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 com-
              pleted and the whole prefix ignored for completion purposes.  For example,

                     compctl -j -P "%" kill

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

       -S suffix
              When a completion is found the suffix is inserted after the completed string.  In the case of menu  com-
              pletion  the  suffix is inserted immediately, but it is still possible to cycle through the list of com-
              pletions 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.  Comple-
              tion 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 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 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 suppressed.

       -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 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 alter-
              natives 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  sepa-
              rately;  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.


ALTERNATIVE COMPLETION
       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'.


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:

       s[string]...
              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.

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

       p[from,to]...
              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.

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

       C[offset,pattern]...
              Like c but using pattern matching instead.

       w[index,string]...
              Matches if the word in position index is equal to the corresponding string.  Note that the word count is
              made after any alias expansion.

       W[index,pattern]...
              Like w but using pattern matching instead.

       n[index,string]...
              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 com-
              mands such as rcp can be handled similarly.

       N[index,string]...
              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.

       m[min,max]...
              Matches if the total number of words lies between min and max inclusive.

       r[str1,str2]...
              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.

       R[str1,str2]...
              Like r but using pattern matching instead.

       q[str]...
              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'.


EXAMPLE
              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 4.3.11                     December 20, 2010                 ZSHCOMPCTL(1)