When using Emacs shell with the auto-completion feature enabled, I notice that whenever I perform typing and auto-completing a command, Emacs shell always adds an extra space after the first word. I illustrate this issue by an example as follow:

  • Suppose that my current working directory is user@linux ~/foo/bar $

  • Now if I want to type the command mkdir by auto-completion, I first type mk, and then press TAB to show a list of completion possibilities and press ENTER choose mkdir. Now, a whitespace is added at the end of mkdir, which is indicated by the pair [ ]

    user@linux ~/foo/bar $ mkdir[ ]

    In this scenario, adding a whitespace after the command mkdir is fine since mkdir is a full command, I certainly want to type a new word after that.

  • But if the first word is not a full command, but a part of a command, a white-space is still added and it is quite inconvenient.

    For example, I want to type and auto-complete the command such as ~/workspace/tool/my-command

    Then, if I type ~/work first and then press TAB to auto-complete, Emacs shell will automatically add a new white-space after the first directory ~/workspace, which is indicated by [ ]

    user@linux ~/foo/bar $ ~/workspace[ ]

    This is an unwanted white-space, since I have to delete it, in order to continue typing the rest of ~/workspace/tool/my-command

Is there anybody know how to make Emacs shell knows when an extra white-space should be added?

FYI, I am using the Spacemacs distribution of Emacs.

I discovered that this is due to the package bash-completion of Emacs. After removing it, the Emacs shell works as usual.

  • 1
    It shouldn't do that, and I can't reproduce this on Emacs 26.0.50. But I use shell-mode a lot and for years, and this is not normal behaviour - the space should not be added. Try to reproduce the problem starting from emacs -Q. If that fixes the issue, as it should, then there's something in your config that has caused the problem.
    – Tyler
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 14:49
  • Thanks @Tyler for the suggestion. Yes, you are right! This issue doesn't happen with emacs -Q. I also use Emacs 26.0.50. I will look into my configuration.
    – Trung Ta
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 2:08
  • I discovered that this is due to the package bash-completion of Emacs. After removing it, the Emacs shell works as usual
    – Trung Ta
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


The bash-completion package addresses that issue with this setting:

(setq bash-completion-nospace t)

I find that is not perfect but it's a better compromise.

There doesn't seem to be a thorough treatment of the issue anywhere but there is a little discussion of it on github: https://github.com/szermatt/emacs-bash-completion/search?q=nospace&type=Issues

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