I am a fairly new Emacs user and just switched to using Spacemacs instead of trying to do all of the Vim configuration myself. It included a whole bunch of packages that I had not been using before, including Helm. I am willing to bet that I am missing something completely obvious, but I can't figure out how to search up a directory for file names without leaving the Helm search results.

What I am doing:

  • I type :e <TAB> and get a list of filenames.
  • I see I am in the wrong directory and type ../ to go up a directory
  • Helm shows me anything in the current directory with any two characters followed by /

What I want to happen:

  • I type :e <TAB> followed by ../ or some other simple sequence
  • Helm shows me the contents of the directory above my current location

Similar behavior

I see that I can type :e ../<TAB> to get the contents of the directory above me or that I can hit <ESC> followed by ../<TAB> but these both hide the search result window which I find a minor annoyance.

I feel that this is simple enough that I must be missing something. Is there a way to get this behavior?

1 Answer 1


I don't know which helm command you are using, but if you want to only display files of a certain directory you should try helm-find-files. You can get to the contents of the directory above with the predefined shortcut C-l within the helm-buffer. It's also possible to navigate through your filesystem with arrow keys.

If you already know the name of the file you are looking for, I would recommend the command helm-for-files. However it doesn't always work properly, when using locate.

  • helm-find-files looks like exactly what I want. Upon further investigation it looks like that wasn't a helm command at all, it was evil-ex-completion. For some reason towards the bottom it displays HELM-Completion-at-point. helm-for-files looks promising as well. Thanks.
    – qfwfq
    Oct 8, 2016 at 15:01

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