Normally I'd use M-x list-processes to see what Emacs is running in the background. But in this case list-processes itself hangs. What is the right thing to do in this situation?

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    If your OS has a task manager, you can see what subprocess are running. E.g., on Windows it is called Task Manager (or it least that was its name in the old days); OSX 10.6.8 has Activity Monitor.app; Linux has ....???
    – lawlist
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 15:54

1 Answer 1


If this happens it means that Emacs is having trouble communicating with some subprocess. It is a good idea to leave Emacs and look at its subprocesses from the hosting operating system.

For example, on Unix this may be done with pstree $(pidof emacs). This won't show which process is causing the problem, but can at least serve as a kind of sanity check.

You can also send Emacs a SIGUSR2 signal, which will stop it from hanging and kick it into a debugger.

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