I'm running Mac Port version of emacs 27.2 on macOS big sur. I recently updated to macos 11.3, and I'm having some strange behavior when I do a C-s search. In around 75% of instances, the entire buffer turns blurred-out/grey except for the search matches (see screenshot). It looks like the semi-transparent background macOS puts behind many objects (e.g., dock, spotlight search)

Even after I've exited isearch, the greyed background persists until I switch buffers and switch back, so it's quite annoying. I experience the issue on both integrated MacBook screen and external displays.

Things I've tried:

  • Reducing transparency in macOS preferences
  • Disabling spotlight search in macOS preferences
  • updating from emacs 27.1 --> 27.2
  • stripping down .emacs file

How can I fix this?

blurred isearch background

1 Answer 1


Managed to solve the issue with these steps:

  1. uninstall of emacs,
  2. upgrade to Xcode command line tools
  3. re-install Mac ports emacs with brew install emacs-mac

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