I want to activate the TAB key from within an elisp function.

here is my function:

(defun aline ()
    "We insert a pair of dollar signs and position
    point in between them."
            (insert "\\begin{align*}\n\\ \n  \\end{align*}")
            (kbd "TAB")
            (backward-char 16)

Its desired behaviour is to print out:

\ <cursor>

Unfortunately it indents the \end{align*}


This is fixed in AUCTEX by pressing TAB. How can I get my function to press the TAB key?

I realise I could fix it by removing spaces after "\n"

(insert "\\begin{align*}\n\\ \n\\end{align*}")

but I want to learn e-lisp and I'm curious of how to fix this with an automated TAB press

I have tried the following commands:

(kbd "TAB")

(insert "?\^I")


  • 3
    You can find what function is bound to a key by typing <kbd>F1 k</kbd> and then the key you're interested in. Calling a function by the key it's bound to is possible (not in the way you tried) but it isn't a way to write reliable code. – user12563 Jul 16 '17 at 15:34
  • 3
    Beginners frequently look for ways to have Emacs press certain keys because they have not yet learned how to determine what function is attached to a particular key using features such as M-x describe-key or C-h k, and then how to include that particular function (with the appropriate arguments) in the new function to achieve the desired result. You can read about function arguments by typing M-x describe-function or C-h f. Certain functions also behave differently depending upon whether they are called interactively, or non-interactively. You may want to use call-interactively. – lawlist Jul 16 '17 at 15:39

I suggest

(execute-kbd-macro [?\t])

to activate the tab key.

  • That would do different things in different modes - it's also rather obscure even if you only want to execute it in a single mode. It's better IMO to find out the function that the key is bound to and call that. – NickD Jul 17 '17 at 2:30
  • I agree to be careful when to use this call. OTOH this call is an option. It could be useful for writing tests, I guess. – Marco Wahl Jul 17 '17 at 8:40

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