In Emacs, I don't want the *Completions* buffer to pop up, even when I press tab to autocomplete in the minibuffer and there are multiple results. It's distracting and jarring.

How can I do this?

Even better, I would like an alternative that isn't distracting or jarring -- such as requiring one tab for autocomplete if available, but requiring two tabs to open a Completions buffer. This way, I don't get the Completions buffer when I'm expecting an autocomplete. This is what the OS X terminal does to show tab completion possibilities.

I think the cause is the minibuffer-completion-help command, which is run automatically, described here: https://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/manual/html_node/elisp/Completion-Commands.html

I use ido and smex, but the problem occurs in a vanilla Emacs too.

EDIT: I found a hack to fix this. Using M-x find-function, I found and copied the function definition of minibuffer-completion-help into my .emacs.d/init.el file. Then, I renamed the version I copied my-minibuffer-completion-help and changed (with-displayed-buffer-window *Completions* to '(with-displayed-buffer-window *Completions* (putting a quote in front so it is just interpreted as a string. Finally, I overrode the call to minibuffer-completion-help by putting

(advice-add 'minibuffer-completion-help
        :override #'my-minibuffer-completion-help)

after the my-minibuffer-completion-help function in my .emacs.d/init.el file. There must be a better way.

EDIT 2: quoting out (message "Making completion list...") in my-minibuffer-completion-help has the added benefit of getting rid of the flicker in autocomplete that is caused by flashing another message during autocomplete. Is it possible to do this another way?

  • Could you paste your completion edits here? That'd be really helpful. I find the completions buffer very intrusive, but it's hard to get rid of without breaking other functionality. I just want it to do the best imitation of not existing that it can do.
    – bob
    Sep 18, 2023 at 8:58

1 Answer 1


Set the variable completion-auto-help to lazy. The documentation says:

Non-nil means automatically provide help for invalid completion input.
If the value is t the *Completion* buffer is displayed whenever completion
is requested but cannot be done.
If the value is ‘lazy’, the *Completions* buffer is only displayed after
the second failed attempt to complete.

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