Currently ZSH displays a menu when I first hit tab and the completion is ambiguous. So, if I have 'cd ' in the command prompt and I hit tab, it will show the different available completions. If I hit tab again, it will select the first available completion.

I would like to merge these two steps into a single press of the tab key. So, if I'm at 'cd ' and I tab, I would like ZSH to insert the first available match (when ambiguous) and display the menu, which I can then tab through if the first match wasn't the directory I had in mind.

The ZSH setup tool put this in my .zshrc, in case any of this is affecting the behavior of my shell:

zstyle ':completion:*' completer _expand _complete _ignored
zstyle ':completion:*' list-colors ''
zstyle ':completion:*' list-prompt %SAt %p: Hit TAB for more, or the character to insert%s
zstyle ':completion:*' matcher-list 'm:{[:lower:][:upper:]}={[:upper:][:lower:]}' '' 'm:{[:lower:][:upper:]}={[:upper:][:lower:]}'
zstyle ':completion:*' menu select=5
zstyle ':completion:*' select-prompt %SScrolling active: current selection at %p%s
zstyle :compinstall filename '/home/robb/.zshrc'
  • Add this line to your ~/.zshrc: setopt menu_complete See man zshoptions for details.
    – yibe
    Apr 23, 2011 at 17:06

3 Answers 3


Add this line to your ~/.zshrc:

setopt menu_complete

See man zshoptions for details.


if original question didn't have this in their .zshrc but if you went through the compinstall process, check to make sure that you don't have "_list" on the completer options:

zstyle ':completion:*' completer _expand _complete _ignored _correct _approximate _prefix

With _list, you only get a list of possible completions with the first tab-completion request, and it overrides some solutions.


Make sure you don't have _list set:

I had:

zstyle ':completion:*' completer _list _expand _complete _ignored _match _correct _approximate _prefix

Removing _list had it expand immediately.

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