Both of the following work to call a graphical/terminal eshell:

  • emacs -f eshell
  • emacs -nw -f eshell

Furthermore, this 2-step process also works:

  • `emacsclient -t -a '' /some/real/file/name
  • Metax eshell

BUT, this does not:

  • emacsclient -t -a '' -f eshell

and fails with this error after lots of normal startup messages:

Error: server did not start correctly
Error: Could not start the Emacs daemon

Note: On my system, I use alias edt="emacsclient -t -a '' to make sure that I always end up in a daemon-backed emacs session server

How can I, in one command,

  • launch emacsclient
  • launch and display a new eshell
  • OR display an existing eshell frame?

If I could also suppress the top 2 "Welcome to EShell" lines, that would also be useful

EDIT: I found this way of launching emacs with eval:

emacsclient -t -a '' --eval '(eshell)'

, but this always selects the pre-existing eshell. How would I then get a "new" one?

1 Answer 1


Surprisingly (at least to me), the -f flag means different things to emacs and emacsclient. To emacs, it means:


Call Lisp function FUNCTION. If it is an interactive function (a command), it reads the arguments interactively just as if you had called the same function with a key sequence. Otherwise, it calls the function with no arguments.

Whereas for emacsclient:


Specify a “server file” for connecting to an Emacs server via TCP.

So that's one problem solved. As for starting a new eshell session, from the help (C-h f eshell <return>):

(eshell &optional ARG)

Create an interactive Eshell buffer.
The buffer used for Eshell sessions is determined by the value of `eshell-buffer-name'. If there is already an Eshell session active in that buffer, Emacs will simply switch to it. Otherwise, a new session will begin. A numeric prefix arg (as in `C-u 42 M-x eshell RET') switches to the session with that number, creating it if necessary. A nonnumeric prefix arg means to create a new session. Returns the buffer selected (or created).

So we can get a fresh eshell process in an emacsclient with:

emacsclient -e '(eshell t)'

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.