Programming Tutorials

complete in Mac OS X

By: Strauss K in macos Tutorials on 2011-02-03  

complete is a built-in shell command in Mac OS X and other Unix-based operating systems. The complete command is used to define how the shell completes words (i.e., provides suggestions for the rest of a command or filename) when a user presses the Tab key.

The complete command can be used to customize the way that the shell completes words, including adding custom completions, specifying the order in which completions should be displayed, and more.

To use complete, you need to specify the command or alias for which you want to define completions, and then specify the options and arguments that define the completion behavior. The basic syntax of the complete command is as follows:

complete [-abcdefgjksuv] [-o option] [-A action] [-W wordlist] [-P prefix] [-S suffix] [-X filter] name ...

Here, "name" is the name of the command or alias for which you want to define completions. The various options and arguments are used to customize the completion behavior. Some of the most commonly used options and arguments are:

  • -a: Specifies that the completions should be added to the existing list of completions for the command or alias.
  • -f: Specifies that the completions should be filenames (useful when completing arguments to commands that take filenames).
  • -k: Specifies that the completions should be taken from the list of shell keywords.
  • -o: Specifies an option that controls the behavior of the completion (for example, whether the completion should be case-insensitive).
  • -W: Specifies a list of words that should be used as completions.

For example, if you want to add the word "example" to the list of completions for the ls command, you could use the following command:

complete -W "example" ls

This command tells the shell to use the word "example" as a completion when the user presses the Tab key after typing "ls". You can customize the completion behavior in many other ways using the various options and arguments of the complete command. For more information, you can refer to the manual page for complete by running the following command in the Terminal:

man complete

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