I want to use a set of files inside my directory ~/Dokumente to search for changes in title, content. So I saved such a set of file names persistently, using C-} during file-name completion with Icicles.

Later, I can use C-{ to restore that set of file names as completion candidates for a command that prompts for a file name.

But how can I combine this with command icicle-locate (or another command that prompts for a file name)?

Command icicle-locate can used with C-M-j to filter by both file name AND file content. How can I do that and also take advantage of my saved persistent set of file names?

1 Answer 1


This answer is for using command icicle-find-file-absolute, which is similar in most regards to icicle-locate.

But icicle-locate uses a prefix arg differently, passing it to system-command locate. So icicle-locate doesn't handle the use of a prefix arg to make multi-completion candidates include also a last modification-date middle component. (Command icicle-locate-file is more similar to icicle-find-file-absolute than is icicle-locate, which uses system command locate.)

The short, tl;dr, answer to your question is that even when completing to match both file name and file content, the completion candidates shown in *Completions* are just the file names, and it is perfectly OK to use C-{ to retrieve a set of these.

  1. (You already did this.) Use C-} during file-name completion, to save the file names that match your minibuffer pattern persistently. Let's say you saved this in file foo.el, using name set-name foo.

  2. M-x icicle-find-file-absolute (or just C-u C-x C-f).

  3. At the prompt for a file name, use C-{, to restore your saved set of file names. At the prompt, enter the name of the saved set, foo. The saved names are shown as the completion candidates in buffer *Completions*.

  4. Type C-M-j, to say that you are done matching file names and you now want to give a pattern to match file content.

  5. Type a pattern to match file content, e.g., toto.*titi. Use S-TAB to update *Completions*, to show only the names of files whose content matches regexp toto.*titi.

If you want to match also the file last-modification dates, then use a negative prefix arg. In that case, after step 3, use C-M-j and type a pattern that matches the dates you want, then continue with step 4 (a second C-M-j followed by a file-content pattern).

As mentioned, icicle-locate is a bit different, because for it the prefix arg is passed to locate, so you can't use it to include last modification-date matching. But the general approach is the same.

See also:

  • hello, thanks for the answer, but unfortunately it seems, that i'm a little bit too stupid for that. After Step 3 i dont see a Completion Buffer. My Minibuffer shows "File or dir (absolute) (./)". Then i push C-M-j and .* to show all content. S-TAB brings up the Completion Buffer. Unfortunately with files from my home directory. And after a short time emacs complains "Reverting buffer ‘.xsession-errors’." So it seems that i have to switch to the directory i saved. I thought, that the Completions are ONLY from the persistent set.
    – space_held
    Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 16:11
  • (1) #3 means: at the prompt File or dir (absolute), use C-{. You should see *Completions* with your saved candidates at that point. (2) There's no sense in a content-matching regexp of .* Content-matching is optional - you need not use C-M-j at all, if you aren't filtering the candidate files by content (.* does no real filtering, because it matches all lines of content). (3) The file-name matching for this is absolute name matching. It's up to you to get the directory-matching part right, with your filename input pattern.
    – Drew
    Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 16:20

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