Minibuffer and Completions in Tandem
mct-, 2022-Jan-23, 280 KiB
Protesilaos Stavrou <>
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To install this package, run in Emacs:

M-x package-install RET mct RET

Full description

This manual, written by Protesilaos Stavrou, describes the customization options for mct (or mct.el and variants), and provides every other piece of information pertinent to it.

The documentation furnished herein corresponds to stable version 0.4.0, released on 2022-01-19. Any reference to a newer feature which does not yet form part of the latest tagged commit, is explicitly marked as such.

Current development target is 0.5.0-dev.


Copyright (C) 2021 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with the Front-Cover Texts being “A GNU Manual,” and with the Back-Cover Texts as in (a) below. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License.”

(a) The FSF’s Back-Cover Text is: “You have the freedom to copy and modify this GNU manual.”

2 Overview of MCT

Minibuffer and Completions in Tandem, also known as “MCT”, “Mct”, mct, or mct.el, is a package that enhances the default minibuffer and *Completions* buffer of Emacs 27 (or higher) so that they work together as part of a unified framework. The idea is to make the presentation and overall functionality be consistent with other popular, vertically aligned completion UIs while leveraging built-in functionality.

The main feature set that unifies the minibuffer and the *Completions* buffer consists of commands that cycle between the two, making it seem like they are part of a contiguous space (Basic usage).

MCT tries to find a middle ground between the frugal defaults and the more opinionated completion UIs. This is most evident in its approach on how to present completion candidates. Instead of showing them outright or only displaying them on demand, MCT implements a minimum input threshold as well as a slight delay before it pops up the *Completions* buffer and starts updating it to respond to user input.

Customization options control the input threshold (mct-minimum-input) and the delay between live updates (mct-live-update-delay). Similarly, a blocklist and a passlist for commands are on offer:

  • The blocklist (mct-completion-blocklist) disables the live-updating functionality for the functions specified therein.

  • The passlist (mct-completion-passlist) always shows the Completions’ buffer for the designated function without accounting for the minimum input threshold.

The user option mct-live-completion controls the overall behaviour of the Completions’ buffer:

  • When nil, the user has to manually request completions, using the regular activating commands. The Completions’ buffer is never updated live to match user input. Updating has to be handled manually. This is like the out-of-the-box minibuffer completion experience.
  • When set to the value visible, the Completions’ buffer is live updated only if it is visible. The actual display of the completions is still handled manually. For this reason, the visible style does not read the mct-minimum-input, meaning that it will always try to live update the visible completions, regardless of input length.
  • When non-nil (the default), the Completions’ buffer is automatically displayed once the mct-minimum-input is met and is hidden if the input drops below that threshold. While visible, the buffer is updated live to match the user’s input.
  • Note that every function in the mct-completion-passlist ignores this option altogether. This means that every such command will always show the Completions’ buffer automatically and will always update its contents live. Same principle for every function declared in the mct-completion-blocklist, which will always disable both the automatic display and live updating of the Completions’ buffer.

Other customizations:

  • mct-hide-completion-mode-line to hide the mode line of the *Completions* buffer. This removes the separation between it and the minibuffer, further contributing to the idea of a unified space between the two.

  • mct-remove-shadowed-file-name to clear shadowed file names when file-name-shadow-mode is enabled. This means that in prompts that use file paths (such as find-file) when you start in, say, ~/Git/mct.el and type ~/ the previous file path is removed and only the new one is inserted. Whereas the default is to keep the original file name visible yet “shadowed” by a different color.

  • mct-show-completion-line-numbers to always display line numbers in the Completions’ buffer. This can be helpful to get a sense of the length of the completion candidates’ list. Though note that line numbers are displayed ephemerally while using the mct-choose-completion-number command, which is bound to M-g M-g in either the minibuffer or the *Completions* buffer.

  • mct-apply-completion-stripes applies alternating background colors in the Completions’ buffer. This is only tested with the modus-themes and will only work nicely if the main background is pure black or white—other themes would need to add support for the faces we define or, at least, users must modify the mct-stripe face.

2.1 MCT in the minibuffer and in regular buffers

Emacs draws a distinction between two types of completion sessions:

  • Completion where the minibuffer is involved (such as to switch buffers or find a file).
  • Completion in a regular buffer to expand the text before point. The minibuffer is not active. We call this “in-buffer completion” or allude to the underlying function: completion-in-region.

The former scenario is what MCT has supported since its inception. Starting with version 0.4.0 it also covers the latter case, though only experimentally (please report any bugs or point towards areas of possible improvement).

To let users fine-tune their setup, MCT provides the mct-minibuffer-mode (formerly mct-mode) as well as the global mct-region-mode.

The decoupling between the two modes makes it possible to configure interchangeable components in a variety of combinations, such as MCT for the minibuffer and the Corfu package for completion-in-region (Extensions). Or the Vertico package for the minibuffer and MCT for in-buffer completion (Alternatives).

We jokingly say that since the introduction of mct-region-mode the acronym “MCT” now stands for “Minibuffer Confines Transcended”—the original was “Minibuffer and Completions in Tandem”.

Interaction model of mct-region-mode.

3 Usage

This section outlines the various patterns of interaction that MCT establishes. Note that completion covers two distinct cases, which are reflected in the design of MCT: (i) in the minibuffer and (ii) for in-buffer completion (MCT in the minibuffer and in regular buffers). Most of this section is about the former scenario, which uses the mct-minibuffer-mode. The mct-region-mode is less featureful by comparison.

3.1 Cyclic behaviour for mct-minibuffer-mode

When mct-minibuffer-mode is enabled, some new keymaps are activated which add commands for cycling between the minibuffer and the completions. Suppose the following standard layout:

|        |      |
| Buffers| Buf  |
|        |      |
|        |      |
| Buf    | Buf  |
|        |      |
|               |
|  Completions  |
|               |
|  Minibuffer   |

When inside the minibuffer, pressing C-n (or down arrow) takes you to the top of the completions, while C-p (or up arrow) moves to the bottom. The commands are mct-switch-to-completions-top for the former and mct-switch-to-completions-bottom for the latter. If the *Completions* are not shown, then the buffer pops up automatically and point moves to the given position.

Similarly, while inside the *Completions* buffer, C-p (or up arrow) at the top of the buffer switches to the minibuffer, while C-n (or down arrow) at the bottom of the buffer also goes to the minibuffer. If point is anywhere else inside the buffer, those key bindings perform a regular line motion (if the *Completions* are set to a grid view, then the left and right arrow keys perform the corresponding lateral motions). The commands are mct-previous-completion-or-mini and mct-next-completion-or-mini. Both accept an optional numeric argument. If the Nth line lies outside the boundaries of the completions’ buffer, they move the point to the minibuffer.

The display of the *Completions* can be toggled at any time from inside the minibuffer with C-l (mnemonic is “[l]ist completions” and the command is mct-list-completions-toggle).

By default, the *Completions* buffer appears in a window at the bottom of the frame. Users can change its placement by configuring the variable mct-display-buffer-action (its doc string explains how and provides sample code).

This is not the same for in-buffer completion performed by mct-region-mode (Interaction model of mct-region-mode).

3.2 Selecting candidates with mct-minibuffer-mode

There are several ways to select a completion candidate. These pertain to mct-minibuffer-mode, as mct-region-mode only has the meaningful action of expanding the given candidate (with RET or TAB in the Completions’ buffer (Cyclic behaviour for in-buffer completion)).

  1. Suppose that you are typing mod with the intent to select the modus-themes.el buffer. To complete the candidate follow up mod with the TAB key (minibuffer-complete). If the match is unique, the text will be expanded. Otherwise the *Completions* buffer will appear. This does not exit the minibuffer, meaning that it does not confirm your choice. To confirm your choice, use RET. If you ever make a mistake and expand the wrong candidate, just use undo. Lastly note that if the candidates meet the completion-cycle-threshold hitting TAB again will switch between them.

  2. While cycling through the completions’ buffer, type RET to select and confirm the current candidate (mct-choose-completion-exit). This works for all types of completion prompts.

  3. Similar to the above, but without exiting the minibuffer (i.e. to confirm your choice) is mct-choose-completion-no-exit which is bound to TAB in the completions’ buffer. This is particularly useful for certain contexts where selecting a candidate does not necessarily mean that the process has to be finalised (e.g. when using find-file). In those cases, the event triggered by TAB is followed by the renewal of the list of completions, where relevant (e.g. TAB over a directory in find-file, which then shows the contents of that directory).

    The command can correctly expand completion candidates even when the active style in completion-styles is partial-completion. In other words, if the minibuffer contains input like ~/G/P/m and the point is in the completions’ buffer over Git/Projects/mct/ the minibuffer’ contents will become ~/Git/Projects/mct/ and then show the contents of that directory.

  4. Type M-e (mct-edit-completion) in the completions’ buffer to place the current candidate in the minibuffer, without exiting the session. This allows you to edit the text before confirming it. If point is in the minibuffer before performing this action, the current candidate is either the one at the top of the completions’ buffer or that which is under the last known point in said buffer (the last known position is reset when the window is deleted). Internally, mct-edit-completion uses mct-choose-completion-no-exit to expand the completion candidate, so it retains its behaviour (as explained right above).

    Sometimes there is a need to switch to the minibuffer without selecting the candidate at point, such as to retype some part of the input. In those cases, type e in the completions’ buffer to move to the minibuffer. The command is called mct-focus-minibuffer, which can also be assigned to the global keymap, though MCT leaves such a decision up to the user (same for mct-focus-mini-or-completions).

  5. Select a candidate by its line number by typing M-g M-g in either the minibuffer or the *Completions* buffer. This calls the command mct-choose-completion-number which internally enables line numbers and always makes the completions’ buffer visible. Selection in this way exits the minibuffer.

    NOTE: This method only works when mct-completions-format is set to its default value of one-column. The other formats show completions in a grid view, which makes navigation based on line numbers imprecise.

  6. In prompts that allow the selection of multiple candidates (internally via the completing-read-multiple function) a [CRM] label is added to the text of the prompt. The user thus knows that pressing M-RET (mct-choose-completion-dwim) in the *Completions* will append the candidate at point to the list of selections and keep the completions available so that another item may be selected. Any of the aforementioned applicable methods can confirm the final selection. If, say, you want to pick a total of three candidates, do M-RET for the first two and RET (mct-choose-completion-exit) for the last one. In contexts that are not CRM-powered, the M-RET has the same effect as TAB (mct-choose-completion-no-exit).

  7. When point is at the minibuffer, select the current candidate in the completions buffer with C-RET (mct-complete-and-exit), which has the same effect as first completing with TAB and then immediately exit the minibuffer with the completed candidate as the selected one.

3.3 Other commands for mct-minibuffer-mode

  • Emacs 28 has the ability to group candidates inside the completions’ buffer under headings. For example, the Consult package makes good use of those (Extensions). MCT provides motions that jump between such headings, placing the point at the first candidate right below the heading’s text. Use M-n (mct-next-completion-group) and M-p (mct-previous-completion-group) to move to the next or previous one, respectively. Both commands accept an optional numeric argument. For the sake of avoiding surprises, these commands do not cycle between the completions and the minibuffer: they stop at the first or last heading.

  • When using completion categories that involve file paths, such as find-file, the backspace key (DEL) goes up a directory if point is right after a path’s directory delimiter (a forward slash). Otherwise it deletes a single character backwards. The command’s symbol is mct-backward-updir.

3.4 Interaction model of mct-region-mode

When mct-region-mode is enabled, MCT is used for in-buffer completion. In this scenario, the cyclic behaviour is less featureful than when the minibuffer is active (due to the specifics of the underlying commands), so we cover the differences (Cyclic behaviour in the minibuffer).

In terms of its interaction model, mct-region-mode only gets enabled manually either by pressing TAB or C-M-i (complete-symbol) in supporting major modes. The *Completions* buffer pops up and is narrowed live to match any subsequent user input. While the buffer is visible, we are performing completion-in-region, which means that the Completions can be narrowed live by typing further. Furthermore, C-n or C-p will move the point to the top/bottom of the Completions’ buffer from where the user can select a candidate with RET.

In-buffer completion is always invoked manually. There is no minimum input threshold and no delay between updates while live-updating of the *Completions* buffer is performed. If the Completions are not visible, then no completion-in-region takes place and thus mct-region-mode should have no effect.

By default, the placement of the Completions for this type of interaction is below the current buffer (as opposed to the bottom of the frame for mct-minibuffer-mode). It looks like this:

|               |      |
| Current buffer| Buf  |
|               |      |
|               |      |
|  Completions  | Buf  |
|               |      |
|        |      |      |
|  Buf   | Buf  | Buf  |
|        |      |      |

While inside the Completions’ buffer, C-n and C-p move to the next and previous line, respectively. When they reach the top/bottom boundaries of the Completions’ buffer, they switch focus back to the buffer that started the completion. However, and unlike mct-minibuffer-mode, they do not keep the *Completions* window around. This is because we cannot tell whether the user wanted to continue with a new completion upon returning to the buffer of origin or perform some other motion/command (in the minibuffer we can make that assumption because the minibuffer is purpose-specific, so for as long as it is active, the completion session goes on). As such, completion-in-region must be restarted after cycling out of the *Completions*.

To cancel in-buffer completion, type C-g either before switching to the Completions’ buffer or while inside of it.

The only customization option for mct-region-mode pertains to the presentation of the *Completions*: mct-region-completions-format. By default, it uses the same style as mct-completions-format, though it can be configured to, for example, display candidates in a grid with either of the horizontal or vertical values (on Emacs 27, candidates are always displayed in a grid, as the one-column layout was introduced in Emacs 28).

4 Installation

4.1 Install the package

mct is available on the official GNU ELPA archive for users of Emacs version 27 or higher. One can install the package without any further configuration. The following commands shall suffice:

M-x package-refresh-contents
M-x package-install RET mct

4.2 Manual installation method

Assuming your Emacs files are found in ~/.emacs.d/, execute the following commands in a shell prompt:

cd ~/.emacs.d

# Create a directory for manually-installed packages
mkdir manual-packages

# Go to the new directory
cd manual-packages

# Clone this repo and name it "mct"
git clone mct

Finally, in your init.el (or equivalent) evaluate this:

;; Make Elisp files in that directory available to the user.
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/.emacs.d/manual-packages/mct")

Everything is in place to set up the package.

5 Sample setup

Minimal setup for the minibuffer and in-buffer completion:

(require 'mct)
(mct-minibuffer-mode 1)
(mct-region-mode 1)

And with more options:

(require 'mct)

(setq mct-remove-shadowed-file-names t) ; works when `file-name-shadow-mode' is enabled
(setq mct-hide-completion-mode-line t)
(setq mct-show-completion-line-numbers nil)
(setq mct-apply-completion-stripes t)
(setq mct-minimum-input 3)
(setq mct-live-update-delay 0.6)
(setq mct-completions-format 'one-column)

;; NOTE: `mct-completion-blocklist' can be used for commands with lots
;; of candidates, depending also on how low `mct-minimum-input' is.
;; With the settings shown here this is not required, otherwise I would
;; use something like this:
;; (setq mct-completion-blocklist
;;       '( describe-symbol describe-function describe-variable
;;          execute-extended-command insert-char))
(setq mct-completion-blocklist nil)

;; This is for commands that should always pop up the completions'
;; buffer.  It circumvents the default method of waiting for some user
;; input (see `mct-minimum-input') before displaying and updating the
;; completions' buffer.
(setq mct-completion-passlist

;; You can place the Completions' buffer wherever you want, by following
;; the syntax of `display-buffer'.  For example, try this:

;; (setq mct-display-buffer-action
;;       (quote ((display-buffer-reuse-window
;;                display-buffer-in-side-window)
;;               (side . left)
;;               (slot . 99)
;;               (window-width . 0.3))))

(mct-minibuffer-mode 1)

;; Optionally use MCT for in-buffer completion (though `corfu' is a
;; better option).
(mct-region-mode 1)

Other useful extras from the Emacs source code (read their doc strings):

(setq completion-styles
      '(basic substring initials flex partial-completion))
(setq completion-category-overrides
      '((file (styles . (basic partial-completion initials substring)))))

(setq completion-cycle-threshold 2)
(setq completion-ignore-case t)
(setq completion-show-inline-help nil)

(setq completions-detailed t)

(setq enable-recursive-minibuffers t)
(setq minibuffer-eldef-shorten-default t)

(setq read-buffer-completion-ignore-case t)
(setq read-file-name-completion-ignore-case t)

(setq resize-mini-windows t)
(setq minibuffer-eldef-shorten-default t)

(file-name-shadow-mode 1)
(minibuffer-depth-indicate-mode 1)
(minibuffer-electric-default-mode 1)

;; Do not allow the cursor in the minibuffer prompt
(setq minibuffer-prompt-properties
      '(read-only t cursor-intangible t face minibuffer-prompt))

(add-hook 'minibuffer-setup-hook #'cursor-intangible-mode)

;;; Minibuffer history
(require 'savehist)
(setq savehist-file (locate-user-emacs-file "savehist"))
(setq history-length 10000)
(setq history-delete-duplicates t)
(setq savehist-save-minibuffer-history t)
(add-hook 'after-init-hook #'savehist-mode)

;;; Indentation and the TAB key
(setq-default tab-always-indent 'complete) ; useful for `mct-region-mode'
(setq-default tab-first-completion 'word-or-paren-or-punct) ; Emacs 27

;;; Extensions

;;;; Enable Consult previews in the Completions buffer.
;; Requires the `consult' package.
(add-hook 'completion-list-mode-hook #'consult-preview-at-point-mode)

;;;; Setup for Orderless
;; Requires the `orderless' package

;; We make the SPC key insert a literal space and the same for the
;; question mark.  Spaces are used to delimit orderless groups, while
;; the quedtion mark is a valid regexp character.
(let ((map minibuffer-local-completion-map))
  (define-key map (kbd "SPC") nil)
  (define-key map (kbd "?") nil))

;; Because SPC works for Orderless and is trivial to activate, I like to
;; put `orderless' at the end of my `completion-styles'.  Like this:
(setq completion-styles
      '(basic substring initials flex partial-completion orderless))
(setq completion-category-overrides
      '((file (styles . (basic partial-completion orderless)))))

6 Keymaps

MCT defines its own keymaps, which extend those that are active in the minibuffer and the *Completions* buffer, respectively:

  • mct-completion-list-mode-map
  • mct-minibuffer-local-completion-map
  • mct-minibuffer-local-filename-completion-map
  • mct-region-buffer-map
  • mct-region-completion-list-map

You can invoke describe-keymap to learn more about them.

If you want to edit any key bindings, do it in these keymaps, not in those they extend and override (the names of the original ones are the same as above, minus the mct- prefix).

7 User-level tweaks or custom code

In this section we cover custom code that builds on what MCT offers.

7.1 MCT in the current or the other window

Over at the rde project, Andrew Tropin configures MCT to display the Completions’ buffer in either of two places:

Current window
This is the default behaviour. It means that completions are presented where the user is already focused on, instead of the bottom of the display or some side window.
Other window
The least recently used window when the command that performs completion matches certain categories whose candidates are best shown next to the current window/context. For example, Imenu (and extensions like consult-imenu) creates a dynamically generated index of “points of interest” in the current buffer, so it is useful to have this displayed in the other window.

Implementation details and particular preferences aside, this is a great example of using the various display-buffer functions to control the placement of the *Completions* buffer.

(defvar rde-completion-categories-other-window
  "Completion categories that has to be in other window than
current, otherwise preview functionallity will fail the party.")

(defvar rde-completion-categories-not-show-candidates-on-setup
  '(command variable function)
  "Completion categories that has to be in other window than
current, otherwise preview functionallity will fail the party.")

(defun rde-display-mct-buffer-pop-up-if-apropriate (buffer alist)
  "Call `display-buffer-pop-up-window' if the completion category
one of `rde-completion-categories-other-window', it will make
sure that we don't use same window for completions, which should
be in separate window."
  (if (memq (mct--completion-category)
      (display-buffer-pop-up-window buffer alist)

(defun rde-display-mct-buffer-apropriate-window (buffer alist)
  "Displays completion buffer in the same window, where completion
was initiated (most recent one), but in case, when compeltion
buffer should be displayed in other window use least recent one."
  (let* ((window (if (memq (mct--completion-category)
		     (get-lru-window (selected-frame) nil nil)
		   (get-mru-window (selected-frame) nil nil))))
    (window--display-buffer buffer window 'reuse alist)))

(setq mct-display-buffer-action
      (quote ((display-buffer-reuse-window

(defun rde-mct-show-completions ()
  "Instantly shows completion candidates for categories listed in
  (unless (memq (mct--completion-category)
    (setq-local mct-minimum-input 0)

(add-hook 'minibuffer-setup-hook 'rde-mct-show-completions)

8 Extensions

MCT only tweaks the default minibuffer. To get more out of it, consider these exceptionally well-crafted extras:

Consult by Daniel Mendler
Adds several commands that make interacting with the minibuffer more powerful. There also are multiple packages that build on it, such as consult-dir by Karthik Chikmagalur and consult-notmuch by José Antonio Ortega Ruiz.
Embark by Omar Antolín Camarena
Provides configurable contextual actions for completions and many other constructs inside buffers. A genius package!
Marginalia by Daniel and Omar
Displays informative annotations for all known types of completion candidates.
Orderless by Omar
A completion style that matches a variety of patterns (regexp, flex, initialism, etc.) regardless of the order they appear in.
all-the-icons-completion by Itai Y. Efrat
Glue code that adds icons from the all-the-icons package to the *Completions* buffer. It can make things prettier and/or more informative, while it can also be combined with Marginalia.

MCT does support the use-case of completion-in-region. This is the kind of completion session that does not involve the minibuffer and is instead about in-buffer text expansion. However, you may prefer:

Corfu by Daniel Mendler
An interface for the completion-in-region which uses a child frame (basically a pop-up) at the position of the cursor to display candidates. As with all of Daniel’s packages, Corfu aims for a clean implementation that does the right thing by being consistent with core Emacs mechanisms.
Cape also by Daniel
Additional completion-at-point-functions (CAPFs) that extend those of core Emacs. These backends can be used by packages that visualise completion-in-region such as Corfu and MCT.

8.1 Enable Consult previews

One of the nice features of the Consult package is the ability to preview the candidate at point. All we need to enable it in the *Completions* buffer is the following snippet:

(add-hook 'completion-list-mode-hook #'consult-preview-at-point-mode)

8.2 Avoid conflict between MCT and Corfu

Daniel Mendler’s corfu package provides an alternative to the mct-region-mode (MCT in the minibuffer and in regular buffers). Given that MCT’s implementation is a global minor-mode, chances are that users of both will run into weird issues with conflicting functionality. The following snippet from Corfu’s README can be added to user configuration files to avoid any potential trouble when using commands such as eval-expression (bound to M-: by default):

(defun corfu-in-minibuffer ()
  "Enable Corfu in the minibuffer only if Mct/Vertico are not active."
  (unless (or (mct--minibuffer-p) vertico--input)
    (corfu-mode 1)))

(add-hook 'minibuffer-setup-hook #'corfu-in-minibuffer 1)

9 Alternatives

In the grand scheme of things, it may be helpful to think of MCT as proof-of-concept on how the default Emacs completion can become more expressive. MCT’s value rests in its potential to inspire developers to (i) patch Emacs so that its out-of-the-box completion is more interactive, and (ii) expose the shortcomings in the current implementation of the *Completions* buffer, which should again provide an impetus for further changes to Emacs. Otherwise, MCT is meant for users who can tolerate the status quo and simply want a thin layer of interactivity for minibuffer completion, in-buffer completion, and their intersection with the Completions’ buffer.

Like MCT, these alternatives provide a thin layer of functionality over the built-in infrastructure. Unlike MCT, they are not constrained by the design of the *Completions* buffer and concomitant functionality. They all make for a natural complement to the standard Emacs experience (also Extensions).

Vertico by Daniel Mendler

this is a more mature and feature-rich package with a large user base and a highly competent maintainer.

Vertico has some performance optimizations on how candidates are sorted and presented, which means that it displays results right away without any noticeable performance penalty. Whereas MCT does not change the underlying behaviour of how candidates are displayed. As such, MCT will be slower in scenaria where there are lots of candidates because core Emacs lacks those optimizations. One such case is with the describe-symbol (C-h o) prompt. If the user asks for the completions’ buffer without inputting any character (so without narrowing the list), there will be a noticeable delay before the buffer is rendered. This is mitigated in MCT by the requirement for mct-minimum-input, though the underlying mechanics remain intact.

In terms of the interaction model, the main difference between Vertico and MCT is that the former uses the minibuffer by default and shows the completions there. The minibuffer is expanded to show the candidates in a vertical list. Whereas MCT keeps the *Completions* buffer and the minibuffer as separate entities, the way standard Emacs does it.

The presence of a fully fledged buffer means that the user can invoke all relevant commands at their disposal, such as to write the buffer to a file for future review, use Isearch to move around, copy a string or rectangle to a register, and so on. Also, the placement of such a buffer is configurable (as with all buffers—though refer, in particular, to mct-display-buffer-action).

Vertico has official extensions which can make it work exactly like MCT without any of MCT’s drawbacks. These extensions can also expand Vertico’s powers such as by providing granular control over the exact style of presentation for any given completion category (e.g. display Imenu in a separate buffer, show the switch-to-buffer list horizontally in the minibuffer, and present find-file in a vertical list—whatever the user wants).

All things considered, there is no compelling reason why one may prefer MCT over Vertico in terms of the available functionality: Vertico is better.

Elmo - Embark Live MOde for Emacs by Karthik Chikmagalur

this package is best described as a sibling of MCT both in terms of its functionality and overall interaction model. In fact, the cyclic motions that are at the core of the MCT experience were first developed as part of my personal Emacs setup to cycle between the minibuffer and Embark’s “live completions” buffer. That was until Emacs28 got some refinements to the presentation of the *Completions* buffer which allowed for a vertical, single-column view.

Elmo can, in principle, have identical functionality with MCT, given that the only substantive difference is that the former uses an Embark buffer to show live-updating completions, while the latter relies on the generic *Completions* buffer.

For users who are on Emacs 27 and who need a single-column view, Elmo is a better choice because MCT can only display such a view on Emacs 28 or higher (though it has been meticulously tested with the grid views of Emacs 27 and should work perfectly fine with them).

Icomplete and fido-mode (built-in, multiple authors)

Icomplete is closer in spirit to Vertico, as it too uses the minibuffer to display completion candidates. By default, it presents the list horizontally, though there exists icomplete-vertical-mode (and fido-vertical-mode).

For our purposes, Icomplete and Fido are the same in terms of the paradigm they follow. The latter is a re-spin of the former, as it adjusts certain variables and binds some commands for the convenience of the end-user. fido-mode and its accoutrements are defined in icomplete.el.

What MCT borrows from Icomplete is the mct-backward-updir command, the tidying of the shadowed file paths, and ideas for the input delay (explained elsewhere in this document). Internally, I also learnt how to extend local keymaps by studying icomplete.el.

I had used Icomplete for several months before moving to what now has become mct.el. I think it is excellent at providing a thin layer over the built-in infrastructure.

10 Acknowledgements

MCT is meant to be a collective effort. Every bit of help matters.

Protesilaos Stavrou.
Contributions to code or documentation
Daniel Mendler, James Norman Vladimir Cash, José Antonio Ortega Ruiz, Juri Linkov, Philip Kaludercic.
Ideas and user feedback
Andrew Tropin, Benjamin (@zealotrush), Case Duckworth, Jonathan Irving, José Antonio Ortega Ruiz, Kostadin Ninev, Manuel Uberti, Philip Kaludercic, Theodor Thornhill, Z.Du.
Inspiration for certain features
icomplete.el (built-in—multiple authors), Daniel Mendler (vertico), Omar Antolín Camarena (embark, live-completions), Štěpán Němec (stripes.el).

12 GNU Free Documentation License

                GNU Free Documentation License
                 Version 1.3, 3 November 2008

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Old versions

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