I typically run gnuemacs using MacPorts. However, I have a friend who does not have admin on his managed mac, so I want to build for him a full release of emacs that will run out of his home directory. He does not have admin rights.

I tried downloading the sources for all of these versions:

-rw-r--r--  1 xf  staff  20403483 Feb 17  2005 emacs-21.4a.tar.gz
-rw-r--r--  1 xf  staff  39587396 Sep  5  2008 emacs-22.3.tar.gz
-rw-r--r--  1 xf  staff  47721193 Jan 28  2012 emacs-23.4.tar.gz
-rw-r--r--  1 xf  staff  39759804 Apr 10  2015 emacs-24.5.tar.xz
-rw-r--r--  1 xf  staff  44415140 Aug 28  2019 emacs-26.3.tar.xz

None of them build properly. I always end up with some kind of Killed error, like:

emacs-26.3 % make
/Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/usr/bin/make -C lib all
make[1]: Nothing to be done for `all'.
/Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/usr/bin/make -C lib-src all
make[1]: Nothing to be done for `all'.
/Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/usr/bin/make -C src VCSWITNESS='' all
/Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/usr/bin/make -C ../admin/charsets all
make[2]: Nothing to be done for `all'.
/Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/usr/bin/make -C ../admin/unidata charscript.el
make[2]: Nothing to be done for `charscript.el'.
/Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/usr/bin/make -C ../admin/unidata all EMACS="../../src/bootstrap-emacs"
  ELC      uvs.elc
/bin/sh: line 1: 37172 Killed: 9               "../../src/bootstrap-emacs" -batch --no-site-file --no-site-lisp -f batch-byte-compile uvs.el
make[2]: *** [uvs.elc] Error 137
make[1]: *** [../lisp/international/charprop.el] Error 2
make: *** [src] Error 2
emacs-26.3 %

So I tried using brew. It built emacs, but I get the same problem:

% brew/bin/emacs
zsh: killed     brew/bin/emacs %

So what's the proper way to build this?

  • Wild guess: increase your stack limit using ulimit -s
    – rpluim
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 11:44

1 Answer 1


I build emacs from Github source.

make install

That compile without any error.

The file INSTALL provides more details on how to build and install Emacs.

capture of emacs about

  • 1
    Building Emacs on macOS has several issues. For instance using gcc causes problems. Usually, the Apple's clang should be used. Building with NS support is likely to cause AppKit/AppKit.h not found error too.
    – Terry
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 12:00
  • Thanks, @Romario. If you could post the dependencies, I can accept your answer.
    – vy32
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 13:42
  • strange, the only dependency I have to use is makeinfo, texinfo and gnutls
    – olopost
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 13:51
  • @vy32 Before Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), building Emacs on 10.6 and 10.5 was a breeze because the CoreFoundation, AppKit, etc were working with the Emacs' build script out of the box and the X Window Framework came built in. On newer versions of macOS, first try building a headless Emacs i.e. (assuming your default CC is GCC) CC=/usr/bin/clang ./configure --without-ns --without-x --with-gnutls=no then try with the NS support.
    – Terry
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 16:42
  • I actually don’t want NS support! I want just terminal mode. Very old school...
    – vy32
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 17:07

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