My init.el file includes the line (pdf-tools-install)

Recently whenever I open emacs I get the message

"Need to (re)build the epdfinfo program, do it now" (y or n) which is rather annoying. I can't quite work out what to do in order to stop this from happening, and I can swear I remember this was not an issue when I originally set up pdf-tools. Has anyone come across this before, and/or know what to do?

  • I've had to before. If I recall correctly, I just pressed y and everything was fine. What happens when you press y? Dec 30, 2019 at 18:03
  • I should have made clear that I have been pressing y and thankfully everything compiles nicely. However, I would prefer to avoid having to press y and wait ~10 seconds to start using emacs. Dec 30, 2019 at 22:48
  • 2
    Call M-x pdf-info-check-epdfinfo. Probably you can fix the problem yourself with the error message emitted by that command. Otherwise add the error message to your question. Maybe, you should run M-x pdf-info-check-epdfinfo before running pdf-tools-install. One possible reason for pdf-tools-install to fail is a wrong configuration of pdf-info-epdfinfo-program. If that is the case just delete any customization of that variable.
    – Tobias
    Jan 31, 2020 at 13:56

2 Answers 2


just uncomment ;;(pdf-tools-install) in your init.el. If it once installed then it have not to do it every time. That worked for me, had the same problem.

  • 1
    Welcome to Emacs.SE! Please elaborate on your answer. How did that commented line get in the init file in the first place?
    – Dan
    Jan 31, 2020 at 16:10
  • Thanks - I had thought I needed this all the time, since I couldn't install pdf-tools without putting it in the init.el, but this works. Feb 10, 2020 at 16:58

For me, when I looked closely at the messages for the compilation, I noticed that it mentioned that automake 1.16.3 couldn't be installed because an earlier version 1.16.3 was already installed. Even so, it told me that it compiled successfully, which I why I previously never looked at the compilation output very closely.

It told me to run brew upgrade automake, and after doing so, and recompiling one last time, I no longer get this message. I still have (pdf-tools-install) in my .emacs file.

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