I'm a longtime Emacs user, and I've decided to take the plunge and build it myself, because I can, and because maybe I'd like to choose a different graphical toolkit. By the by, is there any way, when compiling Emacs, to only compile certain portions?

As in, I know I'm never going to use the IRC client, the mail client, the two browsers, etc. So is there a way for me to build Emacs without those components that I don't need and will only be taking up binary space?

  • 6
    Many (most?) of the Emacs components are written in Emacs Lisp. The source files are byte-compiled, but they aren't built-in to the binary, and are only loaded when needed. You could, in theory, save a few seconds during installation by not byte-compiling components you don't want to use. But I expect the time you would save would be far less than the time spent figuring out how to do this very non-standard install. And after you've compiled Emacs, there would be no difference in how long it takes to load the program, or any performance benefit.
    – Tyler
    Jul 7, 2016 at 0:13
  • 2
    Also, the binary on my machine is only 27MB - it's actually pretty modestly sized by modern standards.
    – Tyler
    Jul 7, 2016 at 0:16

1 Answer 1


The vast bulk of Emacs libraries are not included in the emacs executable; so if you never use them, they are merely taking up a little space on the filesystem. With modern hard disk sizes, I think it's extremely unlikely to be worth your time deleting any of them to reclaim space.

The only elisp libraries which are directly included in the emacs executable are the ones loaded by loadup.el (see https://emacs.stackexchange.com/a/16521 for details).

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