The combination of org capture, org-metaleft (bound to S-LEFT), and refiling can mess up an org file. Here is an example:

  • Start a new heading with quick capture, say *** new. This heading is refiled depending on your quick capture template, say ** Miscellaneous.
  • Press S-LEFT twice, which is bound to org-metaleft and which I often use to go back a word instead of M-b. The heading *** new becomes * new and all the next level 2 headings will become children of this new heading.
  • Refile with C-c C-w, say to * Today. The heading becomes ** new and carries all the children with it to the new location.

The problem with this behavior is that it is completely hidden, unlike in the main buffer where I would see it happening. So I think org-metaleft should be disabled in org capture.

Why is it enabled, and how to turn it off?

  • 2
    I don't use a current version of org-mode and do not anticipate installing it any time soon. That being said, a quick Google search lead me to the variable org-capture-mode-map which contains a doc-string: "Keymap for org-capture-mode, a minor mode. Use this map to set additional keybindings for when Org-mode is used for a capture buffer." So, perhaps you can just define the key has having a nil value for the function ... See: emacs.stackexchange.com/questions/7546/… You may need to (require 'org-capture) or use eval-after-load ...
    – lawlist
    Nov 12, 2019 at 18:10
  • @lawlist I'm curious if you use another software to organize your to-do list and track time? Dec 7, 2019 at 20:41
  • 1
    I use a flat text file for each client to track time using a certain format that is always the same so that I can use a regexp to calculate all of the time spent over a given period; e.g., 0.2 hours -- 12/17/2019: Conference with client. I manually log my time in/out. For the past 5+ years, I have strictly used a custom/modified version of org-mode to keep track of tasks and events, using the same keywords as toodledo.com, which I sync with using a custom/modified of org-toodledo.el. I use a custom/modified version of calfw; and, github.com/lawlist/lorg-calendar
    – lawlist
    Dec 7, 2019 at 23:28

1 Answer 1


Following @lawlist's comments, C-h k <M-LEFT> on an org-capture buffer shows that the key is bound through org-mode-map. I overrode the keybinding of M-LEFT to a function that checks if the current buffer is an Org-capture buffer:

(defun my-org-is-buffer-org-capture()
  "Checks if the current buffer is an org-capture buffer."
  (string-match-p (regexp-quote "CAPTURE-") (buffer-name)))

(defun my-org-metaleft (&optional arg)
  "Wrapper function for org-metaleft, except in org-capture buffers where it calls backward-word."
  (if (my-org-is-buffer-org-capture)
    (org-metaleft arg)))

(defun my-org-metaright (&optional arg)
  "Wrapper function for org-metaright, except in org-capture buffers where it calls forward-word."
  (if (is-buffer-org-capture)
    (org-metaright arg)))

;; Disable org-metaleft and org-metaright in org-capture buffers
(define-key org-mode-map (kbd "<M-left>") 'my-org-metaleft)
(define-key org-mode-map (kbd "<M-right>") 'my-org-metaright)

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