I'm having trouble installing flycheck. I'm on a Mac (see below for details), and I have placed the 3-line code snippet recommneded on the flycheck installation page in my emacs init file. When I start up emacs (note, I don't use GUI, I always use emacs -nw), and then I attempt to install flycheck with M-x package-install RET flycheck I get the following error: Scan error: "Unbalanced parentheses", 888, 3796 I tried both the MELPA-Stable and MELPA versions, but they both yield the same error. Any ideas as to what's causing this error? Many thanks. Mac and emacs details: MacOS 10.15 (19A602) Emacs from https://emacsformacosx.com/  GNU Emacs 26.3 (build 1, x86_64-apple-darwin18.2.0, NS appkit-1671.20 Version 10.14.3 (Build 18D109)) of 2019-09-02

  • 1
    Does your 3-line code snippet contain unbalanced parentheses -- i.e., a missing parenthesis or a missing double quote? [Maybe you copied / pasted and missed an open or close parenthesis ...] You can try opening your .emacs / init.el and type M-x check-parens .... Perhaps your .emacs / init.el contains other errors relating to a missing open / close parenthesis ...
    – lawlist
    Nov 6, 2019 at 0:34
  • Other than @lawlist's good advice, if you don't show us the code causing the error, we can't show you what the problem is. Can you provide an exact recipe for reproducing the error?
    – phils
    Nov 6, 2019 at 2:03
  • @lawlist was correct. Thanks for the suggestion. There was an offending square bracket farther up in my init file that never caused a peep before (that I know of), but was catastrophic when the package manager came into play. Nov 6, 2019 at 2:16
  • @lawlist Please convert your comment into an answer.@ NotSoGiantSequoia: Please accept lawlist's answer by clicking the V-button (it may be that you have to wait a grace period to be able to do so.)
    – Tobias
    Nov 6, 2019 at 5:36

1 Answer 1


As indicated in the comments underneath the question by the original poster, the problem turned out to be a missing square bracket in the user-configuration file. The built-in function M-x check-parens is often times very helpful to locate mismatched parentheses in an open buffer; e.g., open up the user-configuration file and use the function check-parens ....

  • Could we hook check-parens into flycheck?
    – alper
    Aug 17, 2021 at 15:46
  • @alper -- I have never used flycheck and have no idea when might be an appropriate time/place in the its code to perform check-parens, and a mismatched pair would probably cause the code to stop at that location -- potentially breaking the functionality of flycheck until the error is fixed and flycheck is restarted again ... but I really do not know, sorry ... In one of my usages of checking for mismatched pairs, I generate a message and prevent the error from causing a break/stop in code execution -- but that is beyond the scope of the answer in this thread.
    – lawlist
    Aug 17, 2021 at 16:21
  • The reason I asked it because rainbow or paren-mode does not detect unmatched paranthesis like print(((((("hello") but check-parens does. Please see: emacs.stackexchange.com/questions/68149/…
    – alper
    Aug 17, 2021 at 16:26

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