Is there a command to copy the content of a cell in a single keystroke?

When I have cursor at [x] (see below), I have to do: M-a (goes to the beginning of the cell), C-<SPC>, M-e (goes to the end of the cell), and M-w. There should be an easier way!

| Title 1            | Title 2        |
| This is [x] a cell | This is a cell |
|                    |                |

  • 2
    If you are trying to duplicate the contents of a cell down a column, there is an easier way to do that: org-table-copy-down (bound to S-RET). For general copying through the kill ring, a keyboard macro would probably be the simplest method: do C-h i g(emacs)Keyboard macros to find out more.
    – NickD
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 1:46

3 Answers 3


I suggest this bind to `C-c y' (or whatever key you want)

  (bind-key (kbd "C-c y")
              (when (org-at-table-p)
                (message "copied cell: @%d$%d"
                         (org-table-current-column) )))
  • Not bad ! So we get the value of the cell at point with org-table-get-field. I don't understand why this function, called with M-:, also returns the org table formatting, and how this formatting disappears when kill-new is called, but... it's simple, and it works well.
    – kotchwane
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 14:31
  • There's one small issue, though, which is that it puts many unnecessary spaces in the clipboard, when the column is larger than the copied field.
    – kotchwane
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 14:34
  • Spaces are not in the clipboard. check it when inserting within plain text. If you insert it in a cell, just type C-c C-c to get rid of unwanted spaces.
    – gigiair
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 14:55
  • Well, I did check, and they are there alright. If I copy the cell "Title 1" in my example above, and paste the result outside the table, what I get is Title 1   - that is, with 12 trailing spaces at the end. Is that not what you observe? (For reference, my org-version is 9.4.4)
    – kotchwane
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 17:31
  • My apologize, you are right. I corected the answer to trim blanks characters.
    – gigiair
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 19:33

I am surprised that org-mark-element doesn't do what I would call "the right thing" here. This short function seems to copy a cell when your cursor is in a cell, and otherwise the element around the cursor.

  (defun copy-element ()
   (let* ((oec (org-element-context))
      (begin (org-element-property :begin oec))
      (end (org-element-property :end oec)))
       ;; for a cell the end includes the trailing | so we don't count that.
       ((eq 'table-cell (car oec))
    (buffer-substring begin (1- end)))
    (buffer-substring begin end))))))
  • If you are in a table cell, org-element-at-point returns table-row. There is a fine distinction (which I have not understood) between elements and objects: a table-row is an element but a table-cell is an object. So you'd need a clone of org-mark-element (org-mark-object?) that uses org-element-context as you note, instead of org-element-at-point. But as you also note, there are some annoying features, like the inclusion of the trailing |: a table-cell should not include its delimiters IMO.
    – NickD
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 1:49

NickD provides in his comment a method that solves 90 % of the use cases - those where we need to copy a cell to another cell of the table.

Just do S-RET to copy the cell to the cell below, and then move the copied cell to its desired location by pressing Shift plus any of the arrow key (S-<up>, S-<down>, S-<left> and S-<right>).

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