Recent versions of Mathematica dynamically prompt a list of possible options. For example, when typing

Plot[x, {x,0,1}, PlotStyle->

After typing the arrow, Mathematica prompt a list Gray, Dashed, Thick for choice. How to define similar behavior for user defined functions? For example,

Options[myFun] = {myOpt -> value};
myFun[OptionsPattern[]] := 1;

How to prompt a set of possible options, like opt1, opt2, opt3 right after typing


1 Answer 1


Thanks for asking this question; I might not have discovered this customizable area without it.

The auto-completion option values are automatically loaded on Front End start from:

FileNameJoin[{$InstallationDirectory, "SystemFiles", "FrontEnd",
  "SystemResources", "FunctionalFrequency", "OptionValues"}]

This directory contains a series of Package (.m) files each with the name of a function, e.g. ArrayPlot.m. The file name itself determines that this will apply to the function ArrayPlot. It also contains an additional file that appears to apply to all functions: CommonOptions.m

The structure of each file is a list of Rules:

{Extension -> {"Automatic"}, Trig -> {"True", "False"}}
  • The right hand side of each rule is always a list of Strings or an empty list {}
  • Option values that are actual strings must be escaped: "\"string\""
  • Option names must be Symbols (thanks Kuba)

A special Rule form exists for icons within the menu, e.g. from ArrayPlot.m:

PlotTheme ->
 {{"\"Web\"", "PlotTheme-ArrayPlot-Web.png"},
  {"\"Minimal\"", "PlotTheme-ArrayPlot-Minimal.png"},
  {"\"Detailed\"", "PlotTheme-ArrayPlot-Detailed.png"},
  {"\"Business\"", "PlotTheme-ArrayPlot-Business.png"},
  {"\"Marketing\"", "PlotTheme-ArrayPlot-Marketing.png"},
  {"\"Scientific\"", "PlotTheme-ArrayPlot-Scientific.png"},
  {"\"Monochrome\"", "PlotTheme-ArrayPlot-Monochrome.png"},
  {"\"Classic\"", "PlotTheme-ArrayPlot-Classic.png"},
  {"\"Default\"", "PlotTheme-ArrayPlot-Default.png"}}

Each of these icon files reside in:

FileNameJoin @ {$InstallationDirectory, "SystemFiles", "FrontEnd", 
  "SystemResources", "Bitmaps", "Popups", "CodeCompletion", "Thumbnails"}

I have not checked to see if other paths are also searched.

As an example I created a new file foo.m in the OptionValues directory with the content:

{myOption -> {"Doc", "Grumpy", "Happy", "Sleepy", "Bashful", "Sneezy", "Dopey"}}

Now after (re)starting Mathematica:

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ @Kuba Sorry! I guess in this case a stub answer might have been helpful but I was discouraged from that practice. I also tried $UserBaseDirectory without success. Thanks for the note regarding option names. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 7:42
  • $\begingroup$ Don't be, happens :) I'm not after those temporary placeholders either. $\endgroup$
    – Kuba
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 8:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Smashing, I played a bit more with auto-completion feature and I noticed that when you define an enumerated list of options, the way you described above, drop-down list is filtered automatically as you start typing the name of the option, e.g. myOption->Sl.... and drop-down list displays only "Sleepy". Two things here, if you want string options then the list becomes {myOption -> { "\"Doc\"", "\"Grumpy"\", etc.... and if you want the drop-down list filtering then when you type myOption-> ..... do not start with the quotes, but simply type letters of your option and press tab or enter. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 15:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, this seems changed in version 11. I'm able to successfully replicate your steps in M10.4 but not in M11. Is there any known updates to do that? thanks $\endgroup$
    – bobknight
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 6:21
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Ok, found the change: the path has been changed to FileNameJoin[{$InstallationDirectory, "SystemFiles", "Components", "AutoCompletionData", "Main", "OptionValues"}] $\endgroup$
    – bobknight
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 7:15

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