As suggested by the Org-mode Manual, I've customized org-link-abbrev-alist as follows:

(setq org-link-abbrev-alist
       '(;; Abbreviations for websites
         ("google"         . "https://www.google.com/#q=")
         ("github"         . "https://www.github.com/")))

This is convenient because I can easily insert a link with:

[[google:cat pictures][Google Search for cat pictures]]

This is useful because if the URL changes, I can just updated org-link-abbrev-alist. However, there are instances in the past where I've used the entire non-abbreviated link or decided, after visiting a website enough times, to create an abbreviation.

How would I write a function to use org-link-abbrev-alist to turn long form links in all org-mode files (say, all files in org-agenda-files to abbreviated links? For example,

[[https://www.google.com/#q=cat pictures][Google search for cat pictures]]


[[google:cat pictures][Google search for cat pictures]]

I'd also like to integrate this function with org-mode-hook so that it happens automatically on either save or startup.

Lastly, I'd also like a function that does the reverse and replaces the abbreviation with the long form link.

1 Answer 1


After a bit of research, I encountered this answer and adopted it to answer my question above. The following function and hook will replace all links in an org-mode file with their corresponding abbreviations on save.

;; Create abbreviations
(defun my/create-org-link-abbreviations ()
  "Replace all long form links in current file with their corresponding abbreviations in `org-link-abbrev-alist'."
  (dolist (pair org-link-abbrev-alist)
      (goto-char (point-min))
      (while (search-forward (concat "[[" (cdr pair)) nil t)
        (replace-match (concat "[[" (car pair) ":"))))))

(add-hook 'org-mode-hook
          (lambda ()
            (add-to-list 'write-file-functions 'my/create-org-link-abbreviations)))

;; Remove abbreviations
(defun my/remove-org-link-abbreviations ()
  "Replace all link abbreviations in current file with their long form counterparts in `org-link-abbrev-alist'."
  (dolist (pair org-link-abbrev-alist)
      (goto-char (point-min))
      (while (search-forward (concat "[[" (car pair) ":") nil t)
        (replace-match (concat "[[" (cdr pair)))))))
  • Thanks @npostavs, I've update the answer to reflect your comment.
    – sk8ingdom
    May 12, 2016 at 0:51

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