(Using latest version of Spacemacs, on Windows)

I'm new to org-mode and really need to figure out how to get completion working for stuff like tags and #+ options. Apparently org uses pcomplete as the completion backend. Indeed M-x pcomplete (helm) does offer a buffer with long list of completions for #+.

The manual says various completions are accessible with TAB and M-TAB. TAB works fine for blocks. But M-TAB is alt-tab in Windows and therefore cannot possibly be used. I think most Linux DE's also use alt-tab for window switching, while the dedicated Meta key has not been seen on keyboards for ages — which really makes me wonder why is this is still the default for such an important feature as completion.

I tried (global-set-key (kbd "<f1> 1") (kbd "M-<TAB>")) and (global-set-key (kbd "<f1> 1") (kbd "M-TAB")). Now <f1> 1 is mapped to "Keyboard macro", but it doesn't invoke pcomplete (or anything else in org).

So: How do you remap M-TAB?

(Note: I looked for an answer online and the stuff I tried is what I found. Doesn't seem to work)

(Note2: I've tried ESC TAB and C-M-i (since helm says that's what M-TAB is mapped to), but these keys just jump the cursor to the next line and nothing else.)

  • 1
    These are two separate questions. Please ask them in two separate posts (but do some searching on the keybinding question about M-TAB, as it's almost surely a duplicate).
    – Dan
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 21:15
  • Done. That meta key symbol next to your username is very apropos.
    – user27636
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 21:42
  • In practice, Meta is just Alt these days -- the language is a holdover from Emacs's venerable origins. If I understand correctly, you want to find a way to call the command bound to M-TAB with a different keybinding, correct? The most straightforward thing to do is to find out what command that is (the manual should tell you), and then bind that command to a different key.
    – Dan
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 21:47
  • 2
    Yeah but M-TAB is hijacked by most operating systems for task switching. Should I be binding pcomplete then? Can't you just rebind the key itself, as I tried above? How do you personally use completion in org (if you do)?
    – user27636
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 21:55
  • 1
    Just use ESC TAB instead of M-TAB on Windows.
    – Drew
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 22:40

1 Answer 1


See the Info page "(emacs) Windows Keyboard" for an explanation on the expression (w32-register-hot-key [M-tab])

On those systems where I used that hot-key for Emacs I use Windows-Tab or Windows- to switch to other apps.

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