Assume that I have a hyperlink to a file in org-mode

- [[file:~/Documents/one_document.txt][this is a link to one file]]

And then for some reason I want to update the linked file to some other file using org-store-link.

After using C-c l, I move back to my org file(pre-existent link), I hit C-c C-l and would hope that UP, DOWN or M-p would show me stored links--but it doesn't! Even if I delete the pre-existent link I never get to see the *Org links* buffer.

From reading the documentation it seems that I should be able to see the stored links. If so, does anyone knows why I can't? Thank you in advance.

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, org-insert-link (C-c C-l) on an existing link does not use org-stored-links, as you can see in its source:

;; Answers note: code taken from `org-insert-link' on commit ff8683aa35
     (link-location)              ; specified by arg, just use it.
     ((org-in-regexp org-link-bracket-re 1)
      ;; We do have a link at point, and we are going to edit it.
      (setq remove (list (match-beginning 0) (match-end 0)))
      (setq desc (when (match-end 2) (match-string-no-properties 2)))
      (setq link (read-string "Link: "
                   (match-string-no-properties 1)))))

Instead org-insert-link only uses read-string with your current link. However, we can use an advice to modify both org-stored-links as well as the current link:

(defun remove-link-and-mark-description (&rest args)
  "Removes the link at point and marks the description.

The previous link gets stored into `org-stored-links'. ARGS is unused"
   ((org-in-regexp org-link-bracket-re 1)
    (let* ((link (match-string-no-properties 1))
           (desc (if (match-end 2) (match-string-no-properties 2) link))
      (push (list (org-link-unescape link) desc) org-stored-links)
      (replace-match desc)
      (push-mark (match-beginning 0) t t)))
   (t nil)))

(advice-add 'org-insert-link :before #'remove-link-and-mark-description)

However, the code above is merely a proof of concept. There are some bugs, e.g. the stored link doesn't follow Org's usual file:... format if used on files, and push should probably get replaced by add-to-list.

  • I am surprised that this is not implemented by default. Your solution returned an error, so it might have to be slightly changed. I will give feedback as soon as possible.
    – Ajned
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 14:18
  • @Ajned Which emacs-version and org-version do you use?
    – Zeta
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 14:37
  • Indeed, I should have stated that right at the beginning. Emacs v26.3, Org mode v9.4. and the error is "Wrong number of arguments: (lambda nil "Removes the link at point and marks the description. The previous link gets stored into org-stored-links'." (cond ((org-in-regexp org-link-bracket-re 1) (let* ((link (match-string-no-properties 1)) (desc (if (match-end 2) (match-string-no-properties 2) link)) (deactivate-mark)) (setq org-stored-links (cons (list (org-link-unescape link) desc) org-stored-links)) (replace-match desc) (push-mark (match-beginning 0) t t))) (t nil))), 1"`
    – Ajned
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 14:45
  • I can reproduce the error with Emacs v26.3, Org mode v9.1. It works fine on Emacs 27.1. There might have been some changes with advice-add. I'll check the NEWS.
    – Zeta
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 14:47
  • @Ajned I'm not entirely sure why it's necessary in Emacs 26.3, but apparently remove-link-and-mark-description must take an argument in 26.3. &rest args makes sure that it works in both 26.3 and 27.1.
    – Zeta
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 14:56

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