complete - edit command specific tab-completions


complete ((-c | --command) | (-p | --path)) COMMAND [OPTIONS]
complete (-C | --do-complete) [--escape] STRING


complete defines, removes or lists completions for a command.

For an introduction to writing your own completions, see Writing your own completions in the fish manual.

The following options are available:

-c or --command COMMAND

Specifies that COMMAND is the name of the command. If there is no -c or -p, one non-option argument will be used as the command.

-p or --path COMMAND

Specifies that COMMAND is the absolute path of the command (optionally containing wildcards).

-e or --erase

Deletes the specified completion.

-s or --short-option SHORT_OPTION

Adds a short option to the completions list.

-l or --long-option LONG_OPTION

Adds a GNU-style long option to the completions list.

-o or --old-option OPTION

Adds an old-style short or long option (see below for details).

-a or --arguments ARGUMENTS

Adds the specified option arguments to the completions list.

-k or --keep-order

Keeps the order of ARGUMENTS instead of sorting alphabetically. Multiple complete calls with -k result in arguments of the later ones displayed first.

-f or --no-files

This completion may not be followed by a filename.

-F or --force-files

This completion may be followed by a filename, even if another applicable complete specified --no-files.

-r or --require-parameter

This completion must have an option argument, i.e. may not be followed by another option.

-x or --exclusive

Short for -r and -f.

-w or --wraps WRAPPED_COMMAND

Causes the specified command to inherit completions from WRAPPED_COMMAND (see below for details).

-n or --condition CONDITION

This completion should only be used if the CONDITION (a shell command) returns 0. This makes it possible to specify completions that should only be used in some cases. If multiple conditions are specified, fish will try them in the order they are specified until one fails or all succeeded.

-C or --do-complete STRING

Makes complete try to find all possible completions for the specified string. If there is no STRING, the current commandline is used instead.


When used with -C, escape special characters in completions.

-h or --help

Displays help about using this command.

Command specific tab-completions in fish are based on the notion of options and arguments. An option is a parameter which begins with a hyphen, such as -h, -help or --help. Arguments are parameters that do not begin with a hyphen. Fish recognizes three styles of options, the same styles as the GNU getopt library. These styles are:

  • Short options, like -a. Short options are a single character long, are preceded by a single hyphen and can be grouped together (like -la, which is equivalent to -l -a). Option arguments may be specified by appending the option with the value (-w32), or, if --require-parameter is given, in the following parameter (-w 32).

  • Old-style options, long like -Wall or -name or even short like -a. Old-style options can be more than one character long, are preceded by a single hyphen and may not be grouped together. Option arguments are specified by default following a space (-foo null) or after = (-foo=null).

  • GNU-style long options, like --colors. GNU-style long options can be more than one character long, are preceded by two hyphens, and can’t be grouped together. Option arguments may be specified after a = (--quoting-style=shell), or, if --require-parameter is given, in the following parameter (--quoting-style shell).

Multiple commands and paths can be given in one call to define the same completions for multiple commands.

Multiple command switches and wrapped commands can also be given to define multiple completions in one call.

Invoking complete multiple times for the same command adds the new definitions on top of any existing completions defined for the command.

When -a or --arguments is specified in conjunction with long, short, or old-style options, the specified arguments are only completed as arguments for any of the specified options. If -a or --arguments is specified without any long, short, or old-style options, the specified arguments are used when completing non-option arguments to the command (except when completing an option argument that was specified with -r or --require-parameter).

Command substitutions found in ARGUMENTS should return a newline-separated list of arguments, and each argument may optionally have a tab character followed by the argument description. Description given this way override a description given with -d or --description.

Descriptions given with --description are also used to group options given with -s, -o or -l. Options with the same (non-empty) description will be listed as one candidate, and one of them will be picked. If the description is empty or no description was given this is skipped.

The -w or --wraps options causes the specified command to inherit completions from another command, “wrapping” the other command. The wrapping command can also have additional completions. A command can wrap multiple commands, and wrapping is transitive: if A wraps B, and B wraps C, then A automatically inherits all of C’s completions. Wrapping can be removed using the -e or --erase options. Wrapping only works for completions specified with -c or --command and are ignored when specifying completions with -p or --path.

When erasing completions, it is possible to either erase all completions for a specific command by specifying complete -c COMMAND -e, or by specifying a specific completion option to delete.

When complete is called without anything that would define or erase completions (options, arguments, wrapping, …), it shows matching completions instead. So complete without any arguments shows all loaded completions, complete -c foo shows all loaded completions for foo. Since completions are autoloaded, you will have to trigger them first.


The short-style option -o for the gcc command needs a file argument:

complete -c gcc -s o -r

The short-style option -d for the grep command requires one of read, skip or recurse:

complete -c grep -s d -x -a "read skip recurse"

The su command takes any username as an argument. Usernames are given as the first colon-separated field in the file /etc/passwd. This can be specified as:

complete -x -c su -d "Username" -a "(cat /etc/passwd | cut -d : -f 1)"

The rpm command has several different modes. If the -e or --erase flag has been specified, rpm should delete one or more packages, in which case several switches related to deleting packages are valid, like the nodeps switch.

This can be written as:

complete -c rpm -n "__fish_contains_opt -s e erase" -l nodeps -d "Don't check dependencies"

where __fish_contains_opt is a function that checks the command line buffer for the presence of a specified set of options.

To implement an alias, use the -w or --wraps option:

complete -c hub -w git

Now hub inherits all of the completions from git. Note this can also be specified in a function declaration (function thing -w otherthing).

complete -c git

Shows all completions for git.

Any command foo that doesn’t support grouping multiple short options in one string (not supporting -xf as short for -x -f) or a short option and its value in one string (not supporting -d9 instead of -d 9) should be specified as a single-character old-style option instead of as a short-style option; for example, complete -c foo -o s; complete -c foo -o v would never suggest foo -ov but rather foo -o -v.