I currently have a keyboard shortcut bound to C-c t that shows me all of the NEXTACTION items I have, no matter what headline level they're at. It works by using a kbd macro wherein I just typed C-c / N <RET>, and that was enough to fill in everything I needed.

But now I would like that same shortcut to also show me WAITING items. I tried just recording the whole macro of C-c / NEXCTACTION|WAITING <RET>, and assigning that, but for some reason it still seems to use the old macro. I don't have any idea what's going on there, it's almost like it's ignoring that I've changed the macro.

Looking at the function help for org-sparse-tree directly, it seems that it accepts optional arguments, but I can't find any documentation describing how to use the function.

In short, all I want is a single keyboard shortcut that gives an org-sparse-tree on two keywords at the same time. Any ideas?

EDIT: This is the relevant part of my .emacs file:

(fset 'NEXTACTION-WAITING-org-tree
   [?\C-c ?/ ?T ?N ?E ?X ?T ?A ?C ?T ?I ?O ?N ?| ?W ?A ?I ?T ?I ?N ?G return])

(defun nextaction-org-tree-fun ()
    (switch-to-buffer (find-file "~/orgfiles/personalorg.org"))
    (execute-kbd-macro (symbol-function 'NEXTACTION-WAITING-org-tree))))

(global-set-key (kbd "C-c t") (lambda ()

2 Answers 2


This is an attempt to answer your last question.


C-xk b F5

Then F5 yields the desired sparse tree.

  • I considered doing this, but the "WAITING" case-insensitively matches my "Waiting: on x and y" phrases. Is there a way to make the regex case sensitive, or will I have to change my waiting phrase?
    – Bronze
    Nov 19, 2016 at 20:19
  • I don't know about the case-sensitivity at the moment.
    – Marco Wahl
    Nov 20, 2016 at 11:41
  • What about C-c / T NEXTACTION|WAITING?
    – Marco Wahl
    Nov 20, 2016 at 11:42
  • Curiously, typing it interactively in my org-mode buffer works, but defining it as a macro and then executing it does not. In fact, I even tried editing the macro to be sure that it was defined correctly. It is, but nevertheless it only shows me the NEXTACTION entries.
    – Bronze
    Nov 21, 2016 at 20:31
  • I can not confirm your observation. Could you provide a CME?
    – Marco Wahl
    Nov 22, 2016 at 9:50

I ended up solving my own problem with help from Marco Wahl by improving the regex a little: In org-mode, these to-do keywords must be surrounded by a space on either side. In my case that differentiates them enough from other instances of similar words. This makes it easy to search for them using the emacs regex:


Then, using emacs macros, type:

C-c / r \s-\(NEXTACTION\|WAITING\|term3\|term4\|...\)\s-

Then the macro can be assigned, inserted, etc. as you like.

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