I'm new to Emacs, so apologies if this is covered elsewhere.

I'm running latest macOS 12.4; and downloaded emacs.app from emacsformacosx.com so I'm on Emacs 28.1-4 .

I have an admin user, which I almost never login as via GUI (basically, only for major system updates).

I have (at least) 2 standard users, let's call them user.home and user.work .

I could run a per user instance of emacs daemon by putting the relevant plist in each ~/Library/LaunchAgents. Does doing this run a risk of clobbering any files?

Or, could I run a single per machine instance by putting the relevant plist in /Library/LaunchDaemons. This seems more efficient, but then which user should own the process, and where should I place my .emacs.d/init.el and friends?

Can I have a very basic set up for the machine daemon, and a customised init.el on a per user basis which could be read by emacsclient?

I think all the documentation for Emacs on Mac assumes that one is running as a single admin user (this is true for brew and others too I notice) but again apologies if this is all obvious!

Lastly, are there any limitations to running emacs as client/server? For example, can one persuade emacsclient to remember desktop state?

1 Answer 1


If you put it in as a LaunchDaemon, it would run as root (or whatever the equivalent on OSX is; I don’t use it). You don’t want to do that. Let each user run their own daemon. The answer to rest of your questions is whatever is most favorable; you’re not going to break anything by doing that and Emacs features all just work how you would expect them to work. Don’t forget that Emacs comes with a set of manuals. You can type C-h i to open them inside of Emacs.

  • Thanks for the help, and importantly reassurance! Agreed having emacs run as root sounds like a bad idea, but it's possible to tell LaunchDaemon to run a process as any user ('emacs', say). But letting each user run their own daemon makes sense to me, and the resource usage doesn't seem significant. Have been RTFMing copiously and no doubt will continue to do so! And, by the way, I've been meaning to try Emacs for about 15 years... and now wish I had done so much sooner! Thanks again.
    – NickR
    May 30, 2022 at 16:55

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