According to the docs if a file filename has a location in it like this, using the form (org-table-get-remote-range NAME-OR-ID FORM)

* Location
  :CUSTOM_ID: Location

  | a | b |
  | 1 | 2 |

it should be possible to reference the table from another file using (org-table-get-remote-range "[[#Location][file:~/filename::#Location]]" "@I+1$1")

If the table is in another file, it ignores the table's #+NAME and uses the first table under the link.

I have tried it in so many ways and always get the error Can't find remote table "[[#Location][file:~/filename::#Location]]". I have even copied the links using org-store-linkandorg-insert-link` to ensure the references are right, but still get the error.

I am beginning to think that unless I've got the syntax wrong the code for accessing a table in another file is buggy.

1 Answer 1


The documentation of org-table-get-remote-range says that the name-or-id argument is either the name (as specified by #+name:) of a table in the current file or it is an ID that specifies some heading, possibly in the same file but possibly in a different file, in which case the argument refers to the first table found in that entry.

Here's an example: I have two files foo.org and bar.org. bar.org looks like this:

* bar
:ID:       2cca19d4-2df7-41f8-a653-ad1baeecc455

|  a |    b |      c |
|  1 |    1 |      1 |
|  8 |   64 |    512 |
| 15 |  225 |   3375 |
| 22 |  484 |  10648 |
| 29 |  841 |  24389 |
| 36 | 1296 |  46656 |
| 43 | 1849 |  79507 |
| 50 | 2500 | 125000 |

where the ID property was created by calling org-id-get-create.

Then you can refer to the table in bar.org from the file foo.org as follows:

* using a remote call in a table formula
#+name: foo
|     a | b | c |
|     1 |   |   |
|   512 |   |   |
|  3375 |   |   |
| 10648 |   |   |
| 24389 |   |   |
#+TBLFM: $1 = '(identity remote(2cca19d4-2df7-41f8-a653-ad1baeecc455, @@#$3))

With the exception of the ID usage, this is pretty much from the
[manual](https://orgmode.org/org.html#References): copy the third column of the remote table into the first
column of this table (or as much of it as fits).

* Using a call to org-table-get-remote-range from lisp code

Here is a call to =org-table-get-remote-range to illustrate:

#+begin_src elisp :results drawer
  ;; get the last row of the remote table
  (org-table-get-remote-range "2cca19d4-2df7-41f8-a653-ad1baeecc455"  "@>$1..@>$>")

(50 2500 125000)

Some relevant settings which you should examine with describe-variable (C-h v): org-id-track-globally is t (the default), org-id-method is uuid, org-id-prefix is nil - you might want to change the last one, but the other two should be left at their defaults.

Note that CUSTOM_ID is different from ID and is not useful in this case: it is only useful to label a target for an internal link unambiguously.

  • Thanks. I thought NAME-or-ID referred to the filename in addition to the CUSTOM_ID that the table is under. I had in mind Excel references which are made of the filename as well as the range and I thought org tables are similar. I think I will make a request of it. It seems logical, and the ID only works if Emacs has read that file before.
    – vfclists
    Aug 24, 2022 at 19:15
  • What do you mean "... the ID only works if Emacs has read that file before"?
    – NickD
    Aug 25, 2022 at 21:15
  • If the file is moved after the ID is generated, won't Emacs lose track of the ID? If a file is opened and has IDs does Emacs re-index the ID database? Is there a command to re-index the ID database?
    – vfclists
    Aug 27, 2022 at 9:44

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