I wish to have an "inbox.org" file where I collect notes into (trying to implement GTD :P), and then later move things around to the proper places. I understand that org-refile is the way to do this (move things around), but it seems that it is only possible to refile stuff under headlines, not directly into files. What I want is to take a note from my inbox.org and add it as a toplevel heading in the proper org file.

Is this by any chance possible? I read the info on org-refile-targets and it seems like it is only able to refile into an existing headline, although the info on org-refile-use-outline-path says:

org-refile-use-outline-path is a variable defined in `org.el'. Its value is "file" Original value was nil

Documentation: Non-nil means provide refile targets as paths. So a level 3 headline will be available as level1/level2/level3.

When the value is `file', also include the file name (without directory) into the path. In this case, you can also stop the completion after the file name, to get entries inserted as top level in the file.

However, autocompletion on the org-refile prompt does not even provide the file names as options. Is there a way to do this with org-refile-targets or any other means?

I'm running gnu emacs 24.5.1 on windows 8.1 64bit.

Thanks in advance ;)

1 Answer 1


I figured out the small detail I was missing. The docs say

When the value is `file', also include the file name (without directory) into the path.

I misinterpreted this as "file", which had no effect on the refile targets presented to me. What should be the value of org-refile-use-outline-path is actually 'file, the quoted symbol file!! :)

Hope this saves someone the time I wasted looking for the solution to a non-existent problem. Anyway, the documentation should not have that single quote character after 'file.

I discovered the solution on this answer to the same question on stackoverflow, so maybe it is still useful to post it here.

  • 2
    @trepador I have also had this problem, and thank you for solving my problem. I use (setq org-refile-use-outline-path 'file)
    – yuxuan
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 23:19

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