Suppose we have:

* Parent
** Child1 :@Tag:
*** Child of Child1
** Child2
*** Child of Child2
** Child3 :@Tag:
*** Child of Child3

Is there a way to copy all subtrees of * Parent with tag @Tag to a destination (say * Destination), so that we get:

* Destination
** Child1 :@Tag:
*** Child of Child1
** Child3 :@Tag:
*** Child of Child3

1 Answer 1


Sadly `org-refile' isn't a programmatically friendly function. What you want to do is generate a RFLOC parameter value for your desired target and use "Copy" as the MSG value. Here's some code to do it programmatically.

I recommend using org ID's whenever possible to virtually eliminate any ambiguity in reference to headings. First, create an ID for the destination and use that.

(let* ((target-heading "Destination")
       (target-marker (org-find-exact-headline-in-buffer target-heading))
       (target-id (save-excursion (goto-char target-marker)
;; => "22bdee5f-3c93-4ca7-b944-48db2ddc3538"

Then here is a function to help programmatically refile or copy those headings:

(defun ebpa/refile-matches-to-heading (match target-heading-id &optional scope copy)
  "Refile all headings within SCOPE (per `org-map-entries') to TARGET-HEADING-ID."
  (if-let (target-marker (org-id-find target-heading-id t))
      (let* ((target-rfloc (with-current-buffer (marker-buffer target-marker)
                             (goto-char target-marker)
                             (list (org-get-heading)
                                   (buffer-file-name (marker-buffer target-marker))
             (headings-to-copy (org-map-entries (lambda () (point-marker)) match scope)))
         (lambda (heading-marker)
           (with-current-buffer (marker-buffer heading-marker)
             (goto-char heading-marker)
             (org-refile nil nil target-rfloc (when copy "Copy"))))
        (message "%s %d headings!"
                 (if copy "Copied" "Refiled")
                 (length headings-to-copy)))
    (warn "Could not find target heading %S" target-heading-id)))

You can use it in the following way:

  • This works, but it has a weird effect of joining header lines together (from the original org header that you're trying to partially refile) after running. I skimmed your code and don't see anything that could affect the layout of the original org-headers though. Any ideas of what's causing this?
    – George
    Oct 23, 2017 at 13:17
  • 1
    @George Sorry about that. The bug in my code is early use of marker-position. I'll fix it shortly. (Fixed) I don't know why I thought org-refile would accept a position, but not a marker.
    – ebpa
    Oct 23, 2017 at 16:07

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