This works

Normally, zsh's tab completion works well.

$ touch foo-1-bar foo-2-bar
$ touch f<Tab>
$ touch foo--bar
            ^ cursor here

Pressing Tab again brings up a menu from which I can select files.

$ touch foo--bar
foo-1-bar  foo-2-bar

This doesn't

However, this doesn't seem to work with strings where the beginning and end match. For example:

touch foo-bar foo-foo-bar
touch f<Tab>
touch foo-bar
         ^ cursor here. <tab> again.
touch foo-bar
              ^ cursor here.

No menu is brought up, and there is no opportunity to select foo-foo-bar. Is this expected behaviour or a bug? Is there a setting to make a menu appear in the latter scenario?

I'm using oh-my-zsh. I attempted removing all the completion-related lines from ~/.zshrc, but this made no difference.

  • 3
    Remove oh-my-zsh, in .zshrc put autoload -U compinit && compinit; zstyle ':completion:*' menu select.
    – jimmij
    Feb 2, 2016 at 10:55
  • Hm, that seems to work. I only need to remove the line sourcing oh-my-zsh, the second line is not necessary. Is there a way to make completion work without removing oh-my-zsh?
    – Sparhawk
    Feb 2, 2016 at 11:43
  • 1
    Why do you need this oh-crap?
    – jimmij
    Feb 2, 2016 at 12:12
  • I… don't know. I just started using zsh, and many tutorials suggest oh-my-zsh. FWIW I like the prompt that I've picked. I presume that may be workable without oh-my-zsh though.
    – Sparhawk
    Feb 2, 2016 at 12:21

3 Answers 3


As per the comments, I tried disabling oh-my-zsh, which fixed this problem. I then went through the oh-my-zsh source, selectively disabling modules.

I previously had CASE_SENSITIVE="true", but commenting out this line fixed it for me. Apparently it's a known bug.

To fix it, I could put the following line in ~/.zshrc after sourcing oh-my-zsh.

zstyle ':completion:*' matcher-list 'r:|=*' 'l:|=* r:|=*'
  • 1
    Oh-My-Zsh is a bloated ratmangle; removing it entirely would be the only sensible approach.
    – jasonwryan
    Feb 3, 2016 at 6:26
  • @jasonwryan That seems to be the general opinion here! In particular, this bug had a simple proposed fix from three years ago, but was then closed for some unknown reason by the developer. And the number of open issues (many unreplied) is impressive. I'll take yours and jimmij's advice and look to customise zsh myself. (FWIW the "bloatedness" doesn't seem to affect my performance, but I'm more worried about bugs introduced by oh-my-zsh.
    – Sparhawk
    Feb 3, 2016 at 8:05
  • @Sparhawk, this not always works for me. Can you help please? I have details here.
    – ericbn
    May 11, 2018 at 15:41

Personally, I prefer this solution much more - http://zsh.sourceforge.net/FAQ/zshfaq04.html#l50, It works like completion in tcsh, and completes words, that are before cursor only.

Just use

    bindkey '\CI' expand-or-complete-prefix

instead of

    bindkey '\CI' expand-or-complete

(Which is by default).

  • I'm now using zim, so I can't really confirm this. However, thanks for posting, and welcome to U/L! (Have an upvote to help get you past the initial limitations.)
    – Sparhawk
    Sep 7, 2017 at 11:40
  • This works great, thanks!
    – Adam Shand
    Mar 20, 2022 at 21:07

Another option is setting COMPLETE_IN_WORD as described on the same page - http://zsh.sourceforge.net/FAQ/zshfaq04.html#l50.

setopt complete_in_word

This will try to fill in the word at the point of the cursor, and all the characters after the point of the cursor will be replaced with what is filled.

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