When an item is refiled to a target which is collapsed and contains other items, the refiled items are visible beneath the collapsed target. I would like these refiled items to instead be hidden along with the other items within the collapsed target.

So instead of:
* Target...
** Refiled item 1
** Refiled item 2

one would just see:
* Target...

Is this possible?

1 Answer 1


Of course! Everything is possible in Emacs!

Edit: revised solution

If the collapsed status of the parent is all that you want to preserve, then maybe something like the following would be adequate:

(defun my/org-refile-preserve-collapsed-parent ()
  (when (save-excursion

(add-hook 'org-after-refile-insert-hook #'my/org-refile-preserve-collapsed-parent) 

original solution

The easiest solution would probably be just to advise org-paste-subtree (this doesn't quite work):

(defun my-advice/org-save-outline-visibility (orig-fun &rest args)
  (org-save-outline-visibility t
    (apply orig-fun args)))

(advice-add 'org-paste-subtree :around #'my-advice/org-save-outline-visibility)

If you don't want to have permanent advice on org-paste-subtree you could advise org-refile that adds and removes the advice for org-paste-subtree.

  • This solution is close. If the refile target is hidden within another collapsed heading, the parent heading remains collapsed (which I do want). If the refile target is visible, however, the refiled item is still displayed beneath the collapsed target item, as in my first example. Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 3:21
  • @MaxPfleger Darn! Outline visibility is tricky-- especially in this case when you're potentially refiling multiple headings. I looked into using org-after-refile-insert-hook with the region delimiters which appear to still reflect the inserted text. I ran into issues trying to use (outline-flag-region (region-beginning) (region-end) t) with outline visibility breaking in the document.
    – ebpa
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 6:53
  • That's great! Your revised solution is exactly what I was looking for. I have come across one small glitch. If you undo a refile, the heading beneath the target heading moves up beside the target target. So it looks like * Heading 1...* Heading 2 all in one line. Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 18:10
  • @MaxPfleger Interesting. Maybe it just undoes the part of org-paste-subtree that shifts the outline level? Was the refiled subtree ("Heading 2") originally a level 1 heading?
    – ebpa
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 18:16
  • The undo behaviour seems to happen for all levels of headings. It is actually more than just a visual issue. The result of undoing a refile seems to confuse org-mode and lock that node so that it cannot be expanded. Expanding all the buffer's collapsed nodes corrects the problem. Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 19:40

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