I want to provide additional command line options to a command in dired marked with '!', eg how do I add '-V' to something like 'less'?

  • 1
    You just type the command (including options) at the prompt.
    – NickD
    Oct 28, 2023 at 15:48
  • What @NickD said. C-h k ! in Dired.
    – Drew
    Oct 28, 2023 at 18:31
  • So, if I mark 'less' with a '!', then I have to type in 'less -V' at the prompt and not just '-V' ?!!! Doesn't sound right. I could mark 'less' with a '!' and type in 'gzip -V' at the prompt. I'm obviously missing something....
    – balanga
    Oct 28, 2023 at 18:41
  • Bring up a dired buffer, navigate to some text file using the arrow key and press !. That brings up a prompt that says: "! on <filename>: " where <filename> is whatever filename your cursor was on when you pressed !. Then you type in whatever command you want to run on that file, e.g. "less -S". The point is that you don't have to type the filename: you just type the command (including options).
    – NickD
    Oct 28, 2023 at 20:48
  • What I'm looking for is a way to the run the file I selected with parameters, not to run a file on the selected file. Looks like I didn't phrase my question adequately, or misunderstood the way that dired-do-shell-command works. Maybe I can use 'w' with dired, which copies the filename into the mini-buffer, but is there any way to invoke a shell with that file name in it? I guess I'm looking for shortcut for is 'w' 'shell-command' 'c-y' " " parms.... Maybe there is such an option, but I haven't located it yet.
    – balanga
    Oct 28, 2023 at 22:03

1 Answer 1


In Dired, you can use dired-file-name-at-point to get the name of the executable at point as a string. Then you can prompt for additionnal arguments and build the command. Here is an example.

(require 'dired)

(defun execute-file-at-point ()
  "Execute the file at point.

The user may provide additionnal arguments."
  (let* ((exec-file (dired-file-name-at-point))
         (command-base (concat "./" (file-name-nondirectory exec-file) " "))
         (command (read-string "Additionnal arguments : " command-base)))
    (shell-command command)))

You can bind it to a key in dired-mode using :

(define-key dired-mode-map (kbd "e") 'execute-file-at-point)
  • This is what I get in the minibuffer... Wrong type argument: commandp, execute-file-at-point
    – balanga
    Nov 1, 2023 at 17:38
  • @balanga Did you evaluate the defun to make sure execute-file-name-at-point is defined ? Nov 1, 2023 at 21:20
  • I copied and pasted the above block, asis, into my early-init.el. I'll try again with a blank file and just copy that block to see what happens.
    – balanga
    Nov 2, 2023 at 10:20
  • Pressing C-h k show that the command execute-file-at-point should be run, but I get an error - Symbol’s function definition is void: execute-file-at-point
    – balanga
    Nov 2, 2023 at 10:28
  • It looks like you did not evaluate the defun. Pasting code in a file does not execute it. Place the code in the *scratch* buffer, then run M-x eval-buffer. This way everything should be properly defined. Notice that I added (require 'dired). Nov 2, 2023 at 10:48

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