Following an article called Emacs, fonts and fontsets I was revising my font setup. I ended with the following code:

(defun font-exists-p (font)
  "Comprueba si una tipografía existe. Sacado de https://redd.it/1xe7vr"
  (if (member font (font-family-list))

(defun font-pt-to-height (pt)
  "Transforma una altura en puntos (pt) a altura de face-attribute."
  ;; el valor es de 1/10pt, por tanto 100 seria equivalente a 10pt, etc.
  (* pt 10))

(defun font-setup (frame)
  ;; tipografia por defecto
  (cond ((font-exists-p "Fira Code")
         (set-face-attribute 'default frame :family "Monospace" :height (font-pt-to-height 13) :font "Fira Code")))
  (cond ((font-exists-p "Apple Color Emoji")
         (set-fontset-font t 'symbol (font-spec :family "Apple Color Emoji") frame 'prepend))
        ((font-exists-p "Symbola")
         (set-fontset-font t 'symbol (font-spec :size 20 :name "Symbola") frame 'prepend))))

(add-hook 'after-make-frame-functions #'font-setup t)
(add-hook 'emacs-startup-hook (lambda () (font-setup nil)))

but for some reason Emacs ran as a daemon keeps the defaults, see this screenshot:

customize-face for 'default showing the font to be DejaVu Sans Mono

If I manually run (font-setup nil) the default face change to what I want which is Fira Code (customize-face confirms to me the change to the default face happened)

I would like for my font setup configuration to be applied on the first frame and all the following frames.

  • 1
    emacs server is sometimes started before other services (i.e. xft-font-server) are up, so please check if your calls to font-exists-p fails. You could do that by inserting some (message ..) calls and later looking at *Messages* buffer.
    – jue
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 7:52
  • @jue I made a small modification to that function and a warning is issued when (font-family-list) returns a "falsy" value and indeed the function is called. Maybe this is a matter of wrapping things inside a with-eval-after-load or something
    – shackra
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 17:38
  • Surely it is possible to fix that from within emacs, but a clean solution would start emacs server after the required OS services are up. This depends on your operating system, you didn't specify your used one.
    – jue
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 15:17
  • From your profile, I suspect that your init system is systemd, so have a look here: stackoverflow.com/questions/21830670/…
    – jue
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


It seems this issue has affected many users over the years, I implemented this workaround:

(defun fc-list ()
  "Genera una lista de tipografías disponibles usando fc-list"
  (if (executable-find "fc-list")
      (split-string (shell-command-to-string "fc-list --format='%{family[0]}\n' | sort | uniq") "\n")
      (warn "fc-list command is not available")

and modified my font-exists-p function as following:

(defun font-exists-p (font)
  "Comprueba si una tipografía existe. Código parcialmente sacado de https://redd.it/1xe7vr"
  (let ((font-list (or (font-family-list) (fc-list))))
    (if (member font font-list)

and then glue it all together:

(defun font-setup (&optional frame)
  (cond ((font-exists-p "Fira Code")
         (set-face-attribute 'default frame :height (font-pt-to-height 13) :font "Fira Code")))
  (cond ((font-exists-p "Apple Color Emoji")
         (set-fontset-font t 'symbol (font-spec :family "Apple Color Emoji") frame 'prepend))
        ((font-exists-p "Symbola")
         (set-fontset-font t 'symbol (font-spec :size 20 :name "Symbola") frame 'prepend))))

(defun font-setup-frame (frame)
  "configura la tipografía por cada nuevo marco FRAME creado."
  (select-frame frame)
  (when (display-graphic-p)
    (font-setup frame)))

(if (daemonp)
    (add-hook 'after-make-frame-functions #'font-setup-frame)

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