I am a fiend for C-r (isearch-backward), and I often will enter the minibuffer with M-x (execute-extended-command), then use C-r to search for a previous command. I'd like to bind a key that drops me into the minibuffer to read an extended command and automatically activates isearch-backward, but I'm not sure how to write such a function.

  • By default, C-r after M-x searches backward in the minibuffer. It does not "search for a previous command". Perhaps you mean M-r? Or perhaps you have something in your init file that makes Emacs behavior different in this regard? (If so, specify it as part of your question.)
    – Drew
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 14:33
  • @Drew For me, with emacs -q, C-r in the M-x prompt does search through command history. I am using emacs 24.3 on this computer, so maybe it's something that changed in recent versions?
    – T. Verron
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 15:36
  • @T.Verron: Not here, not on MS Windows. Not with Emacs 20, 22, 23, 24, or 25, including 24.3. Here, C-r after M-x runs Isearch backward.
    – Drew
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 17:45
  • @T.Verron: I take that back. I see now, from (emacs) Isearch Minibuffer (and it's true), that if C-r, which is backward Isearch fails when searching the minibuffer text backward, then it searches backward through the input history (likewise, for C-s). M-r just immediately searches backward through the history.
    – Drew
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 17:49
  • @Drew I see, I was indeed testing it (and that's probably what the OP does too) with an empty minibuffer, so that the regular search certainly fails.
    – T. Verron
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 21:35

1 Answer 1


This should help:

(defun my-M-x (arg)
  (interactive "P")
      (lambda () (call-interactively #'previous-matching-history-element))
    (execute-extended-command arg)))

(global-set-key (kbd "M-x") 'my-M-x)

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