Is there any option or other customization to keep the outline of an org-mode buffer (uncollapsed parts of the tree) after the buffer has been reverted (org-mode 9.0.1, emacs 25.3.2)? In my case only the top headings are displayed after reverting. This is quite annoying and time-consuming in a setup, where one constantly switches between git branches e.g.

  • 1
    Look at org-startup-folded's docstring, which might be the variable you're looking for.
    – user12563
    Jan 18, 2018 at 18:38
  • Thanks, but this doesn't help in this case. See below for the correct answer. Jan 20, 2018 at 11:28

1 Answer 1


The correct answer was provided on the mailing list:


Quotation of the relevant part of that message:

Org provides two functions to save and restore visibility (and a macro that does both, but isn't useful in your case): org-outline-overlay-data and org-set-outline-overlay-data.

You may want to use them within before-revert-hook and after-revert-hook.

The following is useful for implementing it:


Note that the functions org-outline-overlay-data and org-set-outline-overlay-data do not exist anymore in Orgmode 9.2.

Citation of the incompatible changes of Orgmode 9.2:

Removed commands and functions


Use org-save-outline-visibility instead.


Use org-save-outline-visibility instead.

Possible Implementation

There follows Elisp code that preserves the outline state of headings over revert-buffer. It includes the definitions of org-outline-overlay-data and org-set-outline-overlay-data that have been deleted from Orgmode 9.2.

(defun org-outline-overlay-data (&optional use-markers)
  "Return a list of the locations of all outline overlays.
These are overlays with the `invisible' property value `outline'.
The return value is a list of cons cells, with start and stop
positions for each overlay.
If USE-MARKERS is set, return the positions as markers."
  (let (beg end)
     (delq nil
       (mapcar (lambda (o)
             (when (eq (overlay-get o 'invisible) 'outline)
               (setq beg (overlay-start o)
                 end (overlay-end o))
               (and beg end (> end beg)
                (if use-markers
                (cons (copy-marker beg)
                      (copy-marker end t))
                  (cons beg end)))))
           (overlays-in (point-min) (point-max)))))))

(defun org-set-outline-overlay-data (data)
  "Create visibility overlays for all positions in DATA.
DATA should have been made by `org-outline-overlay-data'."
   (dolist (c data) (org-flag-region (car c) (cdr c) t 'outline))))

(defvar-local my-org-outline-state nil
  "Place for saving org outline state before reverting the buffer.")

(put 'my-org-outline-state 'permanent-local t)

(defun my-org-save-outline-state ()
  "Save org outline state in `my-org-outline-state'.
It can be recovered afterwards with `my-org-recover-outline-state'."
  (setq my-org-outline-state (org-outline-overlay-data t)))

(defun my-org-restore-outline-state ()
  "Save org outline state in `my-org-outline-state'.
It can be recovered afterwards with `my-org-recover-outline-state'."
  (when my-org-outline-state
    (org-set-outline-overlay-data my-org-outline-state)
    (setq my-org-outline-state nil)))

(defun my-org-install-save-outline-state ()
  "Configure org to preserve the outline state at revert-buffer."
  (add-hook 'before-revert-hook #'my-org-save-outline-state nil t)
  (add-hook 'after-revert-hook #'my-org-restore-outline-state nil t))

(add-hook 'org-mode-hook #'my-org-install-save-outline-state)

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