In spacemacs I find that two ways to get a new copy of a file with a slightly different filename both suffer from the same completion problem:

  1. C-x C-w (write-file)
  2. dired-aux's dired-do-rename (bound to R in spacemacs in dired)

Either way, if I type the initial part of the existing filename, hoping to get a completion, and then TAB to complete, I get the completion to the existing file name that I was after. However, also, the rename operation is actually run immediately when I hit TAB, which always fails with Cannot move to same file: /path/of/very_long_file_name_indeed.something.something. What I want is to get just the completion, so that I can edit the new filename to say very_long_file_name_indeed_renamed.something.something, without typing out the full original filename first.

I expect probably what I want here is to ask something (ivy? counsel? dired-aux? dired?) to only complete, not execute the rename.

How do I complete the filename so that I can edit it before emacs tries to rename the file?

  • I don't see this (or perhaps your recipe isn't clear enough? - consider giving a step-by-step recipe, starting from emacs -Q). For me, TAB just completes - it doesn't also start renaming/moving the file. Do you see the same problem if you start Emacs with emacs -Q (no init file)? If not, bisect your init file to find the culprit.
    – Drew
    Nov 13, 2022 at 16:24
  • @Drew It looks like the 'completion behavior' when selecting the filename directly is different from when selecting the filename by/after 'typing first'. Also, I'm not sure, but maybe Spacemacs modifies default Ivy behavior. Nov 13, 2022 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


I see what you mean. I know that Ivy's completion behavior can be configured to behave differently, so if you really want to, then you can check its documentation.

However, if you just want to get a copy with a slightly different name, then you can achieve that, from a buffer visiting the file to be renamed (not from dired), by pressing SPC u SPC f c (SPC f c is for copying the file, and by passing the universal argument SPC u the original filename already gets inserted for you). Then in Ivy you should select the input line by moving up using C-k (or the arrow up key). Now you can modify the name and press RET when finished.

  • For me the file path that gets inserted is (following my original example) /path/of/of -- i.e. the filename of the directory itself is appended to the directory path, instead of filename of the regular file whose name I want to edit. I tried that on the latest commit on spacemacs develop. Nov 13, 2022 at 18:15
  • Did you press SPC u SPC f c? It seems unlikely to me that the path of the original file is getting inserted, as the code that is used for reading the filename is the following: (read-file-name "Save buffer as: " nil nil nil (buffer-name)). So, when you call it correctly, then it should just insert the (buffer-name). Otherwise, can you upload an image/screenshot? Nov 13, 2022 at 19:00
  • 1
    Ahh, sorry you're suggesting doing that from a buffer visiting the file, I thought you were suggesting doing that from dired. That works! Edited the answer to make that explicit Nov 13, 2022 at 21:31

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