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10.6.1 Storing searches

The first application of custom searches is the definition of keyboard shortcuts for frequently used searches, either creating an agenda buffer, or a sparse tree (the latter covering of course only the current buffer). Custom commands are configured in the variable org-agenda-custom-commands. You can customize this variable, for example by pressing C-c a C. You can also directly set it with Emacs Lisp in .emacs. The following example contains all valid agenda views:

     (setq org-agenda-custom-commands
           '(("x" agenda)
             ("y" agenda*)
             ("w" todo "WAITING")
             ("W" todo-tree "WAITING")
             ("u" tags "+boss-urgent")
             ("v" tags-todo "+boss-urgent")
             ("U" tags-tree "+boss-urgent")
             ("f" occur-tree "\\<FIXME\\>")
             ("h" . "HOME+Name tags searches") ; description for "h" prefix
             ("hl" tags "+home+Lisa")
             ("hp" tags "+home+Peter")
             ("hk" tags "+home+Kim")))

The initial string in each entry defines the keys you have to press after the dispatcher command C-c a in order to access the command. Usually this will be just a single character, but if you have many similar commands, you can also define two-letter combinations where the first character is the same in several combinations and serves as a prefix key1. The second parameter is the search type, followed by the string or regular expression to be used for the matching. The example above will therefore define:

C-c a x
as a global search for agenda entries planned2 this week/day.
C-c a y
as a global search for agenda entries planned this week/day, but only those with an hour specification like [h]h:mm—think of them as appointments.
C-c a w
as a global search for TODO entries with ‘WAITING’ as the TODO keyword
C-c a W
as the same search, but only in the current buffer and displaying the results as a sparse tree
C-c a u
as a global tags search for headlines marked ‘:boss:’ but not ‘:urgent:
C-c a v
as the same search as C-c a u, but limiting the search to headlines that are also TODO items
C-c a U
as the same search as C-c a u, but only in the current buffer and displaying the result as a sparse tree
C-c a f
to create a sparse tree (again: current buffer only) with all entries containing the word ‘FIXME
C-c a h
as a prefix command for a HOME tags search where you have to press an additional key (l, p or k) to select a name (Lisa, Peter, or Kim) as additional tag to match.

Note that the *-tree agenda views need to be called from an Org buffer as they operate on the current buffer only.


[1] You can provide a description for a prefix key by inserting a cons cell with the prefix and the description.

[2] Planned means here that these entries have some planning information attached to them, like a time-stamp, a scheduled or a deadline string. See org-agenda-entry-types on how to set what planning information will be taken into account.