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I have read the prefix has to be added after running helm-m-x, but I don't know how to do it.

For example I want to pass an argument to shell. When I run helm-m-x and then C-u I see in the mode-line [prefarg:4]. On the next key press there will be 4 occurrences of the key instead of only the first one.

How can I do this?

11

helm-M-x is arguably unusual in this aspect. You first invoke it, type until you've picked the command you want to execute, then add the prefix argument by pressing C-u.

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