I use org-mode to write a huge research diary with thousands of entries. I'm trying to organize them by tags. I make only the relevant entries appear via org-sparse-tree and that works perfectly. Now, I would like to use the Emacs search only among them. Is this possible?

Alternatively, is it possible to export a org-sparse-tree to another buffer and search there?

2 Answers 2


Dunno anything about Org or org-sparse-tree. But if it makes only some text visible by making the rest of the text invisible, then Isearch should automatically do the right thing: search only the visible text.

However, you might need to set (or bind, in, e.g., a command you write), option search-invisible to nil. The default value is open, which means that certain invisible text can be matched (opened) by Isearch. C-h v search-invisible tells you:

search-invisible is a variable defined in isearch.el.

Its value is open


If t incremental search/query-replace can match hidden text.

A nil value means don't match invisible text.

When the value is open, if the text matched is made invisible by an overlay having an invisible property and that overlay has a property isearch-open-invisible, then incremental search will show the contents. (This applies when using outline.el and hideshow.el.)

To temporarily change the value for an active incremental search, use M-s i.

See also the related option isearch-hide-immediately.

See also reveal-mode if you want overlays to automatically be opened whenever point is in one of them.

You can customize this variable.

As that doc also says, you can use M-s i to toggle the value temporarily.

But of course, this variable has an effect only on overlays with property invisible and property isearch-open-invisible.

  • Awesome, I didn't know about that! It works perfectly!
    – Zuza
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 19:04

Drew answers the first section.

Alternatively, is it possible to export a org-sparse-tree to another buffer and search there?

It's in the docs. (info "(org) Sparse trees")

Or you can use C-c C-e C-v to export only the visible part of the document and print the resulting file.

You could choose the option O O for exporting into an org mode buffer.

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