I've built Emacs from source on MacOS (12.4, M1) and it works when I execute the binary from /usr/local/bin/emacs, but I can't open Emacs from Emacs.app.

For example:

mv ~/emacs/nextstep/Emacs.app /Applications/Emacs.app

I then try to open Emacs.app from my Applications folder, but it silently fails.

Here's how I'm building Emacs from source:

$ ./autogen.sh

$ ./configure --with-native-compilation \
              --with-ns \
              --disable-silent-rules \

$ make

$ make install

I can open emacs no problem when I use the installed binary in /usr/local/bin:

$ emacs & # good to go!

Here's what I get when trying to run the Emacs binary within Emacs.app:

$ /Applications/Emacs.app/Contents/MacOS/Emacs

Error using execdir /Applications/Emacs.app/Contents/MacOS/:
emacs: dlopen(/Applications/Emacs.app/Contents/MacOS/../native-lisp/29.0.50-6a95966f/preloaded/window-0d1b8b93-33d07edc.eln, 0x0001): tried: '/Applications/Emacs.app/Contents/MacOS/../native-lisp/29.0.50-6a95966f/preloaded/window-0d1b8b93-33d07edc.eln' (no such file)


I found perhaps a related issue: homebrew-emacs-plus#392 and it's associated fix. Perhaps the problem is related to the emacs/native-lisp directory not being present in the Emacs.app package.

I tried to resolve by simply moving the native-lisp/ directory into my Emacs.app package:

$ mv ~/emacs/nextstep/Emacs.app /Applications/Emacs.app
$ mv ~/emacs/native-lisp/ /Applications/Emacs.app/Contents/

This appeared to fix the issue, in that I was able to use Emacs.app and launch the program. However, after launching the program this way there are a suite of warnings that show up related to native compilation:

libgccjit.so: error: error invoking gcc driver

I think simply moving the native-lisp/ folder into the app package was probably not sufficient.

  • Try at the command line: open /Applications/Emacs.app ; it may print an error that could help figure this out.
    – amitp
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 16:33
  • No additional output from open ..., but I did try /Applications/Emacs.app/Contents/MacOS/Emacs to run the binary included within the App folder and got "Error using execdir". I added the full output to the original post.
    – treeblah
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 17:56

2 Answers 2


Do not move the Emacs.app to Applications folder; instead use a symlink: ln -s /opt/homebrew/opt/emacs-plus@28/Emacs.app /Applications - (modify this one for your path). Note brew also compile from sources and install on your computer. It uses several patches to finalise the installation.

Edit: You can drag and drop it on doc, no need to write symlink. Edit 2: I added the following lines in my .zshrc

export PATH="/opt/homebrew/Cellar/emacs-plus@28/28.2/bin:$PATH"
alias ec="/opt/homebrew/Cellar/emacs-plus@28/28.2/bin/emacsclient"
alias te="/opt/homebrew/Cellar/emacs-plus@28/28.2/bin/emacs -nw"
  • This works if I don't pass the --disable-ns-self-contained flag, but continues to fail with that flag present. Maybe I just need to stop passing that flag if I want to use Emacs.app, and add emacs/src/ and emacs/lib-src/ to my PATH so I have access to emacs/emacscilent from the command line?
    – treeblah
    Commented Oct 26, 2022 at 1:16
  • See the Edit #2.
    – Ian
    Commented Oct 26, 2022 at 8:11
  • Even with this strategy, the self-contained Emacs.app continues to have issues. It launches, but emits a ton of "libgccjit.so: error: error invoking gcc driver" warnings into my Messages buffer. Meanwhile, src/emacs works totally fine. I have libgccjit installed via brew, so I imagine there's something going on with the Emacs.app paths.
    – treeblah
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 0:42

Here's what ended up resolving this problem for me:

  1. Remove --disable-ns-self-contained from the configure script, to ensure that all build artifacts are copied into the Emacs.app package.
./configure --with-native-compilation \
            --with-ns \
  1. Re-run the Emacs build.
  2. Symlink nextstep/Emacs.app instead of moving it (though I think since self-contained is enabled, you can really just move this to Applications so this may be unnecessary).
  3. Add emacs/src/ and emacs/lib-src to your PATH so you can still run emacs via CLI.

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