I was using this init file on a NixOS machine.

It is important to note that parts of the file were written with use-package and other parts were a legacy from the classic imperative installation of packages: M-x, package-install, and tweaks on hooks and variables.

This weekend I started a new set-up in a new Macbook Air M1 for professional reasons. I must highlight that I am new to Mac.

As I was trying to make myself at home with Emacs in MacOS, I started to copy small snippets of my old config file and slightly migrate them to mac. As the process was going, I decided to use the opportunity to "code review" my own init file - especially to make it more declarative via use-package. The expectation was to make it more reproducible for future occasions.

Sometimes, especially after creating a declaration of a package not yet installed, there was a weird thing happening. I would receive the following messages on the mini-buffer area:

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The funniest point was that after quitting (C-x C-c) and re-starting Emacs, things worked fine (as expected) and the error message would disappear!

And this problem/phenomenon happened multiple times. This is the new config file. See the diff.

Why did this happen? Is the problem related to some specific code snippet? Maybe a reference to a path? Is it related to MacOS?

Now that things work fine and the message is gone, is it possible to reproduce it without installing something new?

1 Answer 1


Due to security concern, Apple re-designed the file system beginning with High-Sierra version - see this or a little bit more detailed here - so in your settings you have an absolute path starting with the forbidden System.... and you must replace it with the permitted Users/yourname/.emacs.d or whatever you need.

As for errors in warnings window you see - just do package-refresh-contentsand try again to install the package you need.

  • Thanks, how exactly can I replace it? Could you give more instructions? Or a recommended material? Aug 4 at 14:47
  • Your locate-user-emacs-file should be "/Users/pedro/.emacs.d/custom-vars.el" - if it works for you in another hidden folder .dotfiles then ok, although Emacs recommend some special paths - see/search C-h I and choose the node Emacs and search for initialisation files/paths (not easy to write exactly where it is).
    – Ian
    Aug 5 at 8:35

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