Installing Emacs on OS X

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OS X comes with a preinstalled version of Emacs, but alas it is the outdated Emacs 22. Fortunately, obtaining a newer release is really simple. There are several popular ways to do it.

Emacs 24

As a binary package

Simply download a binary from Emacs for OSX.

The above binary distribution bundled with up-to-date versions AUCTeX, ESS and a few other useful tools is available from Vincent Goulet's web site.


If you have MacPorts installed, you can just do:

$ sudo port install emacs

to install Emacs 24. The MacPorts installer updates your PATH environment variable, so the MacPorts build of Emacs should be found by your shell before the (outdated) build that comes with Mac OS when you type 'emacs'. If you prefer the build, that's available by executing:

$ sudo port install emacs-app

Homebrew : emacs

Emacs 27 is also available via The specific page about the emacs formula is emacs. Note that this package is a non-graphical package, it used to have a --cocoa option but it is not available currently.

Just type the following incantation in your shell and you’re done:

$ brew update
$ brew install emacs

Chances are good you have an older version of Emacs installed by default with OS X. It's suggested you to remove that older Emacs version to avoid conflicts with the new one. Do this:

$ sudo rm /usr/bin/emacs
$ sudo rm -rf /usr/share/emacs

That’s all folks! You may now proceed to the configuration section.

Homebrew : emacsmacport

Another brew package which has graphical support. The sources are at homebrew-emacsmacport.

The installation instructions are

$ brew tap railwaycat/emacsmacport
$ brew install emacs-mac

Emacs tips for Mac OS X

You may follow Emacs for Mac OS X, Tips on how to create scripts for running emacs and emacsclient.


Emacs is easy to install directly from Rudix as a .pkg or with the Rudix command line tool:

% sudo rudix install emacs

Emacs 27

Binaries for Emacs 27 are still available from Emacs for OSX.


A near-OS-X-native port of GNU Emacs, integrating Emacs with all the features of Mac OS X. Available here. As of December 2020, the latest version (3.5) is based on Emacs 25.3. Comes bundled with some handy packages like AUCTeX.