I really like how ido-find-file, if it can’t find a file matching your string (and you’ve let it idle for like a second), will search your whole home directory for files matching that string, and then your whole directory tree. (At least, I think that’s how it works. I’ve never been able to untangle the code.) I’m hoping there’s an equivalent to that functionality in ivy/counsel, like for counsel-find-file, but I haven’t found it.

This is similar to this question: What's the equivalent of `helm-find` in ivy/counsel? I want to find files **recursively** … but not exactly. I think? I’ve never used helm. I’m glad to know of counsel-file-jump, but it’s too slow up front for what I need since it doesn’t do that gradual ratcheting that ido-find-file does.

  • 1
    If you don't manage to get equivalent functionality for ivy/counsel, there's absolutely nothing wrong with using ido for finding files and ivy/counsel for everything else.
    – Omar
    Feb 19, 2020 at 0:34

1 Answer 1


Although the following is not triggered automatically it might be what you need:

(define-key ivy-minibuffer-map (kbd "'") 'my-ivy-switch-file-search)

(defun my-ivy-switch-file-search ()
  "Switch diffrent file search, preserving current input."
  (let ((input (ivy--input))
        (dir (or ivy--directory default-directory)))
    (if (and (locate-dominating-file "." ".git")
             (not (eq (ivy-state-caller ivy-last) 'counsel-git)))
         (let ((default-directory dir))
           (counsel-git input)))
      (if (equal ivy--directory "/")
           (let ((default-directory dir))
             (counsel-locate input)))
         (let ((default-directory dir))
           (counsel-file-jump input)))))))

This will let you choose a different file search using '.

  • Thanks! That’s pretty cool. I guess my next question would be how to make it automatic (with a delay)… any takers? Jan 25, 2019 at 5:35
  • Hm, I guess this would require some work. What if you make a typo and don't correct it fast enough?
    – clemera
    Jan 25, 2019 at 14:06
  • I guess I’d change the search string and then, after another delay, it would run the search again. Also, any pointers or information on how to extend the behavior of ivy/counsel would be welcome, my Elisp skills are getting respectable but these completion frameworks melt my brain ^_^; Thanks! Jan 25, 2019 at 20:33
  • With the approach of my answer ivy quits and restarts. So when you would make a typo and don't really want to search with counsel-file-jump it would be necessary to quit ivy again and go back to the previous counsel-find-file. I don't know a good solution which behaves like your described ido behavior. Maybe consider submitting a feature request on the project page.
    – clemera
    Jan 26, 2019 at 1:57

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