In Evil mode, in the Normal state, with the evil-search-module variable set to Evil interactive search, I would like to use some kind of auto-completion functionality like Ctrl+n or Ctrl+p so that I don't have to type the full string I am searching for. For example, if I wanted to turn the line

foo bar grue


foo bar zork

I would like to be able to do something like this:

  1. Type :s/g
  2. Hit Ctrl+n (or some other concise key/combo).
  3. See the command prompt change to :s/grue.
  4. Type /zork<RET>.

The steps I've given above fail at step 2. At that point, instead of using the next match, Evil outputs the error message, "No later matching history item".

I have also tried using the suggestions given as answers here, but these do not work either:

  • Hitting Ctrl+f while in the middle of entering a substitution command simply causes Emacs to output the message "End of buffer".

  • Using q:is/g<Ctrl+n> causes Emacs to output the error message "No dynamic expansion for `s/g' found".

What can I do to overcome or work around this?

Update: see Evil bug #166, which refers to this issue.

  • I'm not sure how Evil's command mode works, but maybe try using hippie-expand. Many people bind it to M-/.
    – nanny
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:25
  • @nanny, Thanks for the suggestion. Hitting M-/ while in the middle of typing a substitution command causes Emacs to output "Scanning for dabbrevs...done", but doesn't complete the search string. If I instead attempt to type M-x hippie-expand<RET> in the middle of typing a substitution, Emacs instead outputs, "Command attempted to use minibuffer while in minibuffer".
    – user8341
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:32
  • It's not bound to M-/ by default (it's not bound to anything). It was a suggestion. Additionally, as you've found, you cannot use M-x while in the minibuffer, you must bind functions to keys if you want to use them.
    – nanny
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:44
  • @nanny, thanks again. I haven't tried to use hippie-expand before, sorry. I've now added (global-set-key (kbd "M-/") 'hippie-expand) to my .emacs, and added the setq given here, and restarted Emacs. However, now when I hit M-/ while in the middle of typing a substitution command, Emacs outputs "No expansion found", even if the string I am typing is an initial substring of a string further on in the file. Perhaps I'm missing something...
    – user8341
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:57
  • It may be some quirk with Evil's command mode, because it works for me when using the minibuffer during eval-expression (M-:)
    – nanny
    Aug 12, 2015 at 20:02

1 Answer 1


You can use q/ or q:, then you'll be able to complete using cross buffer completion with auto-complete or company, if you have them configured.

To configure company for that, you need to add the backends company-dabbrev-code and/or company-dabbrev to company-backends. Then invoking company-complete should bring the completion.

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  • Thanks! I've upvoted, but haven't yet tried auto-complete or company, so can't yet confirm that this works for me. Will try to remember to mark it as "correct" once I have, assuming Evil bug #166 still stands.
    – user8341
    Aug 21, 2015 at 14:55

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