Vim has a plugin called SuperTab that uses the tab key to complete words in the current buffer (roughly speaking).

For example, if a buffer's contents are:

;; This buffer is for notes you don't want to save, and for Lisp evaluation.
;; If you want to create a file, visit that file with C-x C-f,
;; then enter the text in that file's own buffer.

Then typing eval and then pressing tab will complete eval to evaluation, since the latter word is already in the buffer.

I am looking for a emacs equivalent. I know of hippie-expand, but I do not quite like its behavior; sometimes, instead of completing just a word, it will try to complete an entire line.

Searching on the emacs-wiki, I found smart-tab, which almost does what I want. The only rub is that, in the example above, it will complete eval to evaluation. instead of evaluation.

The question is the following:

  1. Is there a direct SuperTab equivalent for emacs that I haven't discovered?
  2. If not, is there a way to change smart-tab's behavior so that the extra period is not part of the completion?
  • I think you have already found it with smart-tab. I did not try it. But I think your only mistake was to use the scratch buffer for testing. Perhaps smart-tab completes symbols and the dot has the symbol category in lisp-evaluation mode (that one of scratch). Just use a normal text buffer. E.g., try M-x text-mode in the scratch buffer and afterwards try tab again.
    – Tobias
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 17:38
  • 1
    Ah I see. Turning the scratch buffer to text-mode solves the problem. Thanks!
    – Kevin
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 17:39
  • Please write that as an answer and accept it. So that this question displays as solved. Thanks in advance.
    – Tobias
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 17:54

1 Answer 1


I'm not familiar with SuperTab, and it probably doesn't have an exact equivalent anyway, but rather similar features. Going by your description, I'd say you're looking for dabbrev-expand, which is a built-in Emacs feature. The command is bound to M-/ by default. It completes the current word from a pool that isn't exactly words in the current buffer, but close: it first looks backward from the current position, and then if it finds nothing it looks forward, and if it still finds nothing, it looks in other buffers. M-/ completes the word in full; if you press is again, it gives you the next hit.

There's also C-M-/ (dabbrev-completion), which completes the unambiguous part of the word.

hippie-expand is a sort of dabbrev-expand on steroids: it tries to guess your mind, but doesn't always succeed. dabbrev-expand always sticks to a word (according to the syntax rules of the current buffer). If eval expands to evaluation., you must have tried it in a buffer where the syntax rules make . a symbol constituent, such as the *scratch* buffer as Tobias suggested (*scratch* uses Lisp syntax rules since its primary purpose is to let you type Lisp expressions that Emacs evaluates).

The smart-tab package invokes either dabbrev-expand or hippie-expand based on a configuration option. It doesn't provide a completion or expansion mechanism; what it does is to guess whether you mean to indent or to complete when you press Tab (whereas by default Emacs has completion and indentation on different keys).

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