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Installing Emacs from Source (macOS 10.14)

Posted on:December 17, 2019

Information about installing Emacs from source on macOS seems to be surprisingly sparse, so putting it all here together for easy reference. If it matters, the Emacs version I installed was 27.0.50, on macOS 10.14.

  1. Pick from either git:// or (or have both as different remotes).

  2. Install texinfo, gnutls, and make sure you have Command Line Tools installed xcode-select --install. Additionally, you need the SDK headers.

  3. Run ./, then ./configure (with any other flags you may want, I have --with-modules for vterm support), then finally make install, which will compile it into an application binary for your perusal.

brew install texinfo
echo 'export PATH="/usr/local/opt/texinfo/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.zshrc # or follow the instructions given by brew info
brew install gnutls
open /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/Packages/macOS_SDK_headers_for_macOS_10.14.pkg
git clone git://
cd emacs
./configure --with-modules # flag optional
make install # takes some time, grab caffeinated beverage of choice

Various error messages that you may encounter:

checking for makeinfo... /usr/bin/makeinfo
configure: error: You do not seem to have makeinfo >= 4.13, and your
source tree does not seem to have pre-built manuals in the 'info' directory.
Either install a suitable version of makeinfo, or re-run configure
with the '--without-makeinfo' option to build without the manuals.

You’re missing makeinfo/texinfo.

xml.c:23:10: fatal error: 'libxml/tree.h' file not found
#include <libxml/tree.h>
1 error generated.
make[1]: *** [xml.o] Error 1
make: *** [src] Error 2

You need to install the SDK headers as above.