Agenda Filters and Limits

Table of Contents

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Introduction

This tutorial describes some useful agenda manipulations.

The central notions are filters and limits. Filters are a way to hide some agenda entries (depending on tags, categories or regular expressions). Limits are a way to limit the list of agenda entries (depending on a number of tagged entries, a number of entries with TODO keywords, an effort value, or a number of entries.)

Filters only act on the appearence of the agenda, limits act on the list of agenda entries itself.

Agenda filters

Filtering by tags

Here is a list of keybinding available in the agenda buffer:

/
Only show entries matching a tag. This prompts for a tag to filter by, which you can choose by hitting a selection letter (if configured), or the first letter of the tag, or by hitting TAB and then expand a tag.
C-u /
Hide entries matching a tag. You can successively call this command to hide several tags.
/ /
Reset tag filters: set tag filters to their default value, which is usually nil, unless a tag filter has been preset.

Filtering by category

<
Only show agenda entries that are from the same category than the headline at point. Hitting < again when a category filter is active will deactivate it. This kind of filtering is not cumulative, as headlines cannot have several categories.
C-u <
Hide agenda entries that are from the same category than the headline at point.

Filtering by top parent headline

^
Only show siblings of the agenda entry at point. This is useful when there are many agenda entries and you want to process siblings in priority. Hitting ^ again when a top headline filter is active will deactivate it. This kind of filtering is not cumulative, as headlines cannot have several topmost parents.

Filtering by regular expressions

=
Prompt for a regular expression and only show agenda entries that match the regular expression. You can successively filter by regexps.
C-u =
Filter out entries that match a regexp. You can successively filter out by regexps.
C-u C-u =
Remove all regexps filters.

Combining and removing filters

You can filter by tags, then by regexps, than by category, then by topmost parent – in any order.

To remove all filters from the current agenda view, hit |.

Agenda limits

Here is a list of options that you can set, either globally, or locally in your custom agenda:

org-agenda-max-entries
Limit the number of entries.
org-agenda-max-effort
Limit the duration of accumulated efforts (as minutes).
org-agenda-max-todos
Limit the number of entries with TODO keywords.
org-agenda-max-tags
Limit the number of tagged entries.

When set to a positive integer, each option will exclude entries from other catogories: for example, (setq org-agenda-max-effort 100) will limit the agenda to 100 minutes of effort and exclude any entry that as no effort property. If you want to include entries with no effort property, use a negative value for org-agenda-max-effort.

One useful setup is to use org-agenda-max-entries locally in a custom command. For example, this custom command will display the next five entries with a NEXT TODO keyword.

(setq org-agenda-custom-commands
      '(("n" todo "NEXT"
         ((org-agenda-max-entries 5)))))

Once you mark one of these five entry as DONE, rebuilding the agenda will again the next five entries again, including the first entry that was excluded so far.

You can also dynamically set temporary limits by pressing ~ (or M-x org-agenda-limit-interactively RET). Those temporary limits are lost when rebuilding the agenda.

Dimming blocked task

Blocked tasks are dimmed by default in the agenda.

You can turn this feature off with this in your .emacs.el file:

(setq org-agenda-dim-blocked-tasks nil)

This will actually speed up the agenda generation (see the Worg page on Agenda optimization).

Then, if you want to turn this feature on temporarily for the current agenda, just enter M-x org-agenda-dim-blocked-tasks RET interactively.

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