I want to run several programs one after another and display their output in a single buffer. I can do this by calling call-process multiple times:

(call-process "cmd1" nil "*out*" t)
(call-process "cmd2" nil "*out*" t)

The problem is that Emacs freezes until the last call-process finishes.

How to execute several programs sequentially (one after another) without freezing Emacs?

  • 2
    (1) Asynchronously call a single wrapper process which calls, synchronously, all the child processes. (2) Use process sentinels to kick off each process when the preceding process completes.
    – phils
    Mar 3, 2016 at 4:21
  • I'd like to avoid (1) if possible. Could you please elaborate a bit about process sentinels? Thanks!
    – kostya
    Mar 3, 2016 at 4:24
  • 1
    See the manual: C-h i g (elisp) Sentinels
    – phils
    Mar 3, 2016 at 4:43
  • 1
    lawlist was playing with this kind of thing a while ago, so you can see one approach to the same problem at stackoverflow.com/q/23237869
    – phils
    Mar 3, 2016 at 4:51
  • 2
    There is a very well known library called defered that does exactly this. You can find it on melpa or on github: github.com/kiwanami/emacs-deferred. There is a good likelihood that you already have it installed if you are a package junkie
    – Jules
    Mar 3, 2016 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


You can start with something like:

(let ((proc1 (start-process "myproc1" t "cmd1")))
  (set-process-sentinel proc1
    (lambda (proc1 _string)
      (with-current-buffer (process-buffer proc1)
        (let ((proc2 (start-process "myproc2" t "cmd2")))
          (set-process-sentinel proc2
            (lambda (proc2 _string)
              (with-current-buffer (process-buffer proc2)
                (let ((proc3 (start-process "myproc3" t "cmd3")))

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