When I do I-search: or I-search-backward , it starts right away from the first word it find.

Original behavior:

word1                                           |[cursor]word1 ; cursor moves here 
wor[cursor]d2 ;<= I press `ctrl+r` word [enter] |word2
word3                                           |word3

For example, when I am in I-search, I want to start doing backward search and press ctrl+r but in the first press it remains in the current found word (cursor move into its beginning) and on the second press to ctrl+r, `emacs jumps to the found word on backward.


word1                                           |word1
wor[cursor]d2 ;<= I press `ctrl+s` word [enter] |word2
word3                                           |word3[cursor]; cursor moves here


word1                                           |word1
word2                                           |word2
word3[cursor] ;<= I press `ctrl+r` word [enter] |[cursor]word3 ; cursor moves here                                          

at this stage I want cursor to move beginning of word2 like it should do on its original behavior.

=> I was wondering when the switch from I-search: to I-search-backward or visa versa, can the action take place on the first click instead of two?

1 Answer 1


It's all based on where the cursor is when you start the search.

C-hig (emacs)Basic Isearch says:

A backward search finds matches that end before the starting point, just as a forward search finds matches that begin after it.

Hence for:


Searching backwards for word cannot find word2 because that instance of "word" doesn't end before [cursor].


Searching backwards here, we will initially find word3, as that instance of "word" ends before [cursor].

Edit: The following is extremely minimally tested, but give this a whirl:

(define-advice isearch-repeat (:before (direction &optional count) goto-other-end)
  "If reversing, start the search from the other end of the current match."
  (unless (eq isearch-forward (eq direction 'forward))
    (when isearch-other-end
      (goto-char isearch-other-end))))
  • Wow your code works perfect, I don't know how it makes the magic but thank you
    – alper
    May 31, 2020 at 15:33
  • I found a small bug, not sure could it be related to this. On following example (gist.github.com/avatar-lavventura/…) when I do C-s on top of first _PATH work it does not see the second _PATH. But when I add space after the second _PATH word it sees that
    – alper
    Mar 4, 2021 at 11:25
  • I can't replicate that. I assume you're searching for _PATH. Please test starting from emacs -Q
    – phils
    Mar 4, 2021 at 14:02
  • I haven't understood the problem, in that case. Please give a recipe to reproduce this starting from emacs -Q. Ask a new question if you can't do it in a comment (but if you do that, please firstly verify whether the code in this Answer actually makes a difference, as there's no purpose in referencing this if it's not relevant).
    – phils
    Mar 4, 2021 at 20:31
  • 1
    Emacs 27.1 added an optional argument, so I've updated the advice to match.
    – phils
    Jul 24, 2021 at 2:14

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