This is the official manual for the latest Org-mode release.

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2.3.2 Initial visibility

When Emacs first visits an Org file, the global state is set to OVERVIEW, i.e., only the top level headlines are visible1 This can be configured through the variable org-startup-folded, or on a per-file basis by adding one of the following lines anywhere in the buffer:

     #+STARTUP: overview
     #+STARTUP: content
     #+STARTUP: showall
     #+STARTUP: showeverything

The startup visibility options are ignored when the file is open for the first time during the agenda generation: if you want the agenda to honor the startup visibility, set org-agenda-inhibit-startup to nil.

Furthermore, any entries with a ‘VISIBILITY’ property (see Properties and Columns) will get their visibility adapted accordingly. Allowed values for this property are folded, children, content, and all.

C-u C-u <TAB>     (org-set-startup-visibility)
Switch back to the startup visibility of the buffer, i.e., whatever is requested by startup options and ‘VISIBILITY’ properties in individual entries.

Footnotes

[1] When org-agenda-inhibit-startup is non-nil, Org will not honor the default visibility state when first opening a file for the agenda (see Speeding up your agendas).