I've just installed Emacs 26.3 on my macOS 10.10 (Yosemite) using the binary at Emacs for OSX Everything so far works fine icluding new package installations and different themes. However, when I tried to edit a file on my Linux server using this TRAMP line:

/[email protected]:

It returned:

File not found and directory write-protected

and a blank buffer appeared in the window area.

When I tried Emacs-25.3 binary from the same website, that same TRAMP line worked perfectly and I managed to edit file on the server. When I tried Emacs 26.1 and 26.2, the same problem occured again. So I think this problem is specific to Emacs 26.x.

What should I do to make TRAMP work on Emacs 26.x on macOS?

  • 1
    The following syntax works for me on OSX 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) using Emacs 26.1 built by Emacs for OSX: /ssh:username@server#port:. E.g., /ssh:[email protected]#2222: and that logs in to my root home directory on the shared server in cyberspace at the following path in the top of the dired-mode buffer: /ssh:[email protected]#2222:/home3/hello: The developer who produces the Emacs binary app package on Emacs for OSX stopped producing builds for OSX 10.6.8 after Emacs 26.1, so that is the only build I can test from his website.
    – lawlist
    Feb 15, 2020 at 17:03
  • 1
    ... Here is the same thing on Emacs 26.1 by Emacs for OSX (running on OSX 10.6.8 Snow Leopard), but opening a file (instead of the root home directory) on the shared server in cyberspace: /ssh:[email protected]#2222:/home3/hello/.spamassassin/user_prefs In this case, I opened the file named user_prefs inside the spamassassin folder. I would imagine Tramp uses a default port other than 2222 and that is why I must also specify the desired port, but I don't remember where I asked that particular question -- probably a few years ago....
    – lawlist
    Feb 15, 2020 at 17:08
  • 1
    This is how I open shell or eshell using Tramp on Emacs 26.1 built by Emacs for OSX: (let ((default-directory "/ssh:[email protected]#2222:")) (eshell)) or (let ((default-directory "/ssh:[email protected]#2222:")) (shell)) .... If you want to setup an .authinfo file to login automatically, here is an example entry in that file: machine 12.34.567.89 login username password abcdefg Alternatively, one can use an appropriate entry in the ~/.ssh/config file to login automatically ... -- the entry in the config can include a port number ...
    – lawlist
    Feb 15, 2020 at 17:22
  • When I added ssh to the TRAMP line i.e. /ssh:[email protected]: it worked out but the buffer and mini buffer all went blank, then after the connection was made the buffers returned back. Small glitch.
    – Terry
    Feb 15, 2020 at 17:57
  • 1
    Perhaps related .... On 09/28/2018 (commit 7946445962372c4255180af45cb7c857f1b0b5fa), compatibility for Mohave was added to Emacs. Sadly, that patch prevents Emacs from updating the glass directly during the internal function update_window ..., and this results in screen update glitches. Since then, I think the master branch has undergone additional changes that are designed to help with screen update glitches, but I haven't played around with the master branch since mid-July of last year ... so, I'm not sure what new/problematic goodies are available there ....
    – lawlist
    Feb 15, 2020 at 18:04

2 Answers 2


The following is an excerpt from the Quick Start Guide for Tramp, which is built-in to Emacs 26:


Tramp extends the Emacs file name syntax by a remote component. A remote file
name looks always like /method:user@host:/path/to/file.

You can use remote files exactly like ordinary files, that means you could open
a file or directory by C-x C-f /method:user@host:/path/to/file <RET>, edit the
file, and save it. You can also mix local files and remote files in file
operations with two arguments, like copy-file or rename-file. And finally, you
can run even processes on a remote host, when the buffer you call the process
from has a remote default-directory.

The O.P. has indicated in a comment that using /method:user@host:/path/to/file has resolved the issue.

  • Example using ssh and a non-standard port (2222) to connect to the root default directory:


  • Example using ssh to open a file with a non-standard port (2222):


Here is an example to connect to the root default directory using eshell with a non-standard port (2222):

(let ((default-directory "/ssh:user@host#2222:"))

Here is an example to connect to the root default directory using shell with a non-standard port (2222):

(let ((default-directory "/ssh:user@host#2222:"))

To login automatically using an .authinfo file, here is a sample entry in that file:

machine HOST login USER password PWD

To assist with logging in automatically with a non-standard port (2222), one can use an appropriate entry in the ~/.ssh/config file, which can include other attributes; e.g., HostName and User. https://emacs.stackexchange.com/a/31339/2287

Host 12.34.567.89
  Port    2222
  • Thank you for the answer. I'm in the process of building the Emacs-26.1 from scratch (using the repo whose commit ID is b968db3) using the gcc-10.0 and ../emacs/configure --without-x --with-gnutls=no --without-ns i.e. minimum working configuration for macOS. I got stuck at Converting leim/CXTERM-DIC/CCDOSPY.tit to lisp/leim/quail/CCDOSPY.el (quail-package) TIT dictionary doesn’t have body part error.
    – Terry
    Feb 17, 2020 at 9:31
  • I'm not sure why you would want to build Emacs for MacOS using the --without-ns flag. Here is what I used today to successfully build from the commit bearing 41fa88b99bebf7af62cdea0c0867b04e9b968db3 on the emacs-26 branch: CFLAGS='-Wall -O0 -g3' ./configure --with-ns --with-gnutls=no --with-mailutils --without-makeinfo. I'm on OSX 10.6.8 (server) -- I have installed the /Developer tools that came with the installation DVD (which has Xcode 3.2). I only added more recent versions of autoconf and automake to a separate folder, which I then added to the front of the $PATH.
    – lawlist
    Feb 17, 2020 at 18:29
  • You have vocalized what I was thinking because I would also like to build with --with-ns but that option causes further issues like configure: error: AppKit/AppKit.h required for a Nextstep build are missing so I have to postpone that until after I'm able to build a bare version, --without-x i.e. the terminal version of emacs. No problems on the autoconf& automake I'll go on building that bare version soon.
    – Terry
    Feb 18, 2020 at 17:06

As other answers have mentioned already, Tramp has strengthened its syntax. It requires a mandatory method name now.

You could use - as method name if you mean the default method, like in /-:[email protected]:. If you don't what to apply any other method name but the default one, apply (tramp-change-syntax 'simplified). This changes Tramp syntax to /[email protected]:.

All of this is described in the Tramp manual, so you might want to read there. (Disclaimer: I'm the author of that manual).

  • Thank you for the answer. For the time being I'm trying to build Emacs-26.1 from scratch so as to make it the most compatible to my macOS. Btw, Emacs-26.3 has another networking issue. When I use eww it gives multiple Emergency (url): Unknown proxy directive: DIRECT warnings. By building if from scratch, I hope those issues will be all eliminated. If they aren't, then I will try your solution suggestion.
    – Terry
    Feb 17, 2020 at 9:40

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