I am starting up emacs and I cannot see aynthing in the minibuffer or display window until it starts up. Is there a reason for this?

  • I don't understand your question: how can it display something before it has started up?
    – Tyler
    Sep 16, 2015 at 19:54
  • What do you want it to display? Sep 16, 2015 at 20:06
  • It should desplay the packages that are loading... But it shows nothing. Sep 17, 2015 at 2:07
  • 1
    This is most likely a problem specific to your init file, so it's going to for others to debug. You can check your *Messages* buffer to see if there are any useful clues there. If not, you'll have to do a binary search through your .emacs to figure out where the problem is.
    – Tyler
    Sep 17, 2015 at 21:11
  • I'm curious about this also - I've tried various things to be able to see the messages as packages are loading with use-package, but something must be interfering with it. I'm on Windows also. Jan 16, 2016 at 4:42

2 Answers 2


Is there a reason for this?

Yes, because it is busy starting emacs. However, it logs the most important messages in a buffer called *Messages* and in the operating systems log or event viewer -- depending on your operating system.

As others have commented above, after emacs has finishing starting up, look into the *Messages* buffer or the system's log for any clues to what could be ailing. Post those messages here to help you narrow down the cause.

Lastly, look into starting emacs with --debug command line option to get more verbose error messages logged to both the screen (during startup) and to the *Messages* buffer.

  • Is this a common issue. It seems to intermittently affect emacs. Sep 18, 2015 at 15:29
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    I am not sure what issue you are referring to.
    – Emacs User
    Sep 18, 2015 at 20:28
  • Sorry, from the menu bar down to the edges of the windows the emacs screen is blank while starting up. That is what I'm referring to as my "common issue". It doesn't always occur and is difficult for me to track down. Sep 21, 2015 at 13:33
  • Do you see any difference in messages logged in the messages buffer or the system or event logs?
    – Emacs User
    Sep 21, 2015 at 15:22
  • No. The message log is the same regardless of if the Emacs screen is blank. Sep 23, 2015 at 12:56

I believe the answer given by @EmacsUser is right.

To better understand what's happening: Emacs has been around for a long time. Back in the day, I/O (input/output) with terminals was very slow. Because Emacs is incredibly powerful, it was enhanced so that output to the screen would wait for internal processing to complete. That's why your screen "freezes" when you execute that macro you just defined with an argument of 12345 -- Emacs is busy working on your buffer(s). When it's done, Emacs will refresh the portions of your sreen that need refreshing.

When Emacs starts up, it typically has a lot of things to do. Unless one of those things blocks, screen updates are essentially ignored (i.e. they're very low priority), so you won't see what's happening behind the scenes until Emacs is done processing.

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