Building Emacs from source on MacOS
Posted: ; Updated: Oct 27, 2022 emacs
This is a guide for building Emacs from source for Mac OSX (tested on 12.4, M1) with native compilation enabled. If you don't want native compilation (though I highly recommend it), feel free to drop the the
--with-native-compilation flag when you run the
- Xcode command line tools
libgccjit, required for native compilation
First, clone the repo (you can also use the Github mirror instead):
git clone https://git.savannah.gnu.org/git/emacs.git
These next few steps are taken straight from the INSTALL.REPO file in the source repository, with the addition of a few options during configuration.
After the code is pulled down, cd into the directory and run the
autogen.sh script. This initial script generates another script (
configure) that you'll use to actually configure the Emacs
Makefile to build on your OS.
cd emacs/ ./autogen.sh
You can view all of the available options for
configure by passing in the
Here is the list of options that are recommended for Mac OS, compiled from various sources. I've included the
--help output with each option:
--with-native-compilation: compile with Emacs Lisp native compiler support
--with-json: compile with native JSON support
--with-ns: use Nextstep (macOS Cocoa or GNUstep) windowing system. On by default on macOS
--with-xwidgets: enable use of xwidgets in Emacs buffers (requires macOS Cocoa, more info)
--without-dbus: don't compile with D-Bus support (more info)
--without-compress-install: don't compress some files (.el, .info, etc.) when installing
--disable-silent-rules: enable verbose build output
configure script with these options to create the
Makefile you'll use to build Emacs.
./configure --with-native-compilation \ --with-json \ --with-ns \ --with-xwidgets \ --without-dbus \ --without-compress-install \ --disable-silent-rules
After this finishes, it's time to build Emacs proper.
makefails, take a look at "Troubleshooting" down below. Your best bet is to run
This creates an Emacs binary at
src/emacs. You can verify that everything worked properly by running
emacs -Q, launching it with no configuration.
After you've verified that everything is good to go, the last step is to assemble
You'll notice that a hefty
Emacs.app application now lives in the
nextstep/ directory. Go ahead and move it into your
mv nextstep/Emacs.app /Applications/
I also like to include
PATH so I can run Emacs from the CLI (particularly important for
# Syntax for fish shell set PATH $HOME/projects/emacs/src $PATH set PATH $HOME/projects/emacs/lib-src $PATH
Congratulations, you have officially built Emacs from source!
With everything running smoothly, you're now ready to make your first contributions to the Emacs codebase. Here are some excellent guides to get started:
- Contributing to Emacs by Colin Woodbury
- Welcome, New Emacs Developers by Lars Ingebrigtsen
Best of luck, new Emacs contributor!
make fails, one of the easiest ways to resolve most problems is to use the bootstrap script instead:
# Clean out any dangling build artifacts make clean make bootstrap
This is effectively a "slower and more thorough" build of the application, and successfully resolved a few issues I ran into when I updated from Emacs 28 to 29.