I am used to writing files where paragraphs are split into several lines, e.g. with fill-column. When I search for a string (C-s) such as this is a long text, the search results would not return the locations where the string appears with a line break between two of the words (like this\nis a long text).

Is there a command that would also return these results?


Take a look at the variables isearch-lax-whitespace, isearch-regexp-lax-whitespace, and search-whitespace-regexp.

If the first two variables are set to something non-nil (e.g. t) any space character in your search string will match any sequence matched by the regular expression defined by the search-whitespace-regexp variable.

To match words across line breaks do this:

(setq isearch-lax-whitespace t)
(setq isearch-regexp-lax-whitespace t)
(setq search-whitespace-regexp "[ \t\r\n]+")

A space character in your query will now match any space, tab, or linebreak any number of times.

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  • Thanks, but that does not work for me. My Emacs version is 23.4.1. Apparently it does not have an "isearch-lax-whitespace" variable. – Tony Apr 9 '15 at 11:57
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    Yeah, these features were introduced in Emacs 24.3. Any chance of upgrading to a more recent version? Version 23.4.1 is already more than three years old. – rekado Apr 9 '15 at 12:47
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    Try isearch-forward-word, which is bound to M-s w in recent Emacs. – politza Apr 9 '15 at 20:36
  • Emacs 23 didn't work for me, make sure you're using 24. – ragerdl Jan 29 '16 at 23:40

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