I'm just looking to add files to my org-agenda-variable. I added a single file successfully but am unable to use multiple.

With the code below in my .emacs.el file, the agenda buffer shows 0 TODO's despite there being plenty in the files specified.

Am I using list wrong?

Per another question I checked and the code is not in the customize block.

(setq org-agenda-files (list "C:/Users/Hugh/Documents/CS/Org/todo_dissertation.org"

C-h v user-init-file gives:

Its value is "c:/Users/Hugh/AppData/Roaming/.emacs.el"

which is the file I'm editing.

M-x emacs-version returns:

GNU Emacs 26.1 (build 1, x86-64-w64-mingw32) of 2018-05-30

M-x org-version returns:

Org mode version 9.1.9 (release-9.1.9-65-g5e4542 @ c:/Users/Hugh/emacs/share/emacs/26.1/lisp/org/
  • Your usage of list is fine. What does M-: (mapcar #'file-readable-p org-agenda-files) say? (It should say (t t t t).)
    – Tobias
    Jun 18, 2019 at 10:06
  • nice, it says nil. I wasn't sure what to do without an error message. Must be a problem with one or more of the .org files? Jun 18, 2019 at 10:14
  • ok thanks, that was a typo but not an issue with the actual file Jun 18, 2019 at 10:36
  • Get the help for the variable user-init-file with C-h v user-init-file RET. I guess you put .emacs.el into your user directory but emacs expects the init file in some roaming directory. You can avoid that by setting the HOME environment variable.
    – Tobias
    Jun 18, 2019 at 10:39
  • hmm, maybe but I've successfully made other changes to the init file, and its saved in C:/Users/Hugh/AppData/Roaming so should be correct. Jun 18, 2019 at 10:44

1 Answer 1


Here's how I debugged this:

first, use C-H v user-init-file RET to check the location of the init file. There's a chance the wrong file is being edited.

Then use M-: (mapcar #'file-readable-p org-agenda-files) to check the status of the files listed in the org-agenda-files variable. If they're readable, the expression returns (t t) where there is a t for each readable file in the list.

Then, use the setq-loudly function to check the value of the org-agenda-files as emacs is initialized when emacs is restarted.

(defmacro setq-loudly (&rest var-val-seq) 
    "Set like `setq' the VAR-VAL-SEQ sequence and emit message." 
    (append '(progn) (cl-loop for var-val on var-val-seq by 'cddr collect 
        `(message "(setq %s %S)" (quote ,(car var-val)) (setq ,(car var-val) ,
            (cadr var-val)))) (last var-val-seq 2)))

finally, use (debug-on-variable-change 'org-agenda-files) in the init file. This will offer a debug buffer each time the variable is changed.

In my case, the init file called (setq org-agenda-files 'list( "path-string")) twice. Once where I added and edited it and once where customize had added it, setting it to nil

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