More Notes on Compiling Emacs for macOS

My last post covered how to manually compile Emacs on macOS. This process has worked well for me, except that I lacked the capability to automatically update my Emacs distribution.

I originally sought to compile my own version of Emacs because I wanted a newer version than the one availble via the official Homebrew tap. Some searching led me to a stackoverflow post that pointed me to daviderestivo/homebrew. This approach should have the added benefit of updating Emacs when I run brew upgrade instead of needing to git pull and recompile the whole Emacs project.

Probably, I should automate my process and include code signing but there just aren’t enough hours in the day right now, so this will have to do. These notes are for my future reference:

Step 1 - Add Tap

Add the custom tap with

brew tap daviderestivo/emacs-head

Step 2 - Install Emacs

I’ve specified the flags I want for my install. More can be found on the tap’s github page, linked below:

brew install emacs-head --HEAD --with-cocoa --with-librsvg [email protected] --with-jansson --with-no-frame-refocus --with-mailutils --with-dbus --with-modules --with-modern-icon-sexy-v1

Step 3 - Copy Emacs to /Applications

I wanted an elegant and automated way for Emacs to show up in Spotlight, as I launch all software on the mac this way. It seems the best way to do this is to simply copy the bundle to /Applications per this github discussion.

$ cp -r /usr/local/Cellar/emacs-head/HEAD-1e5392a_1/ /Applications

And that’s it! The latest version of Emacs HEAD is installed and ready to use.


The research for this post primarily involved this link:

Which pointed me toward this Homebrew package:

This github discussion describes methods of installing homebrew bundles into the appropriate locations for Spotlight to properly find them:

Chris Lockard
Chris Lockard
Security Geek

I want to empower you to live a free life