I'm often working with org-mode 'externally' these days. I.e., I edit org-mode files with Emacs, but then export the files using Makefiles to various other formats by using rules such as:

%.tex : %.org
        $(EMACS) --batch --visit=$< --eval='(progn (setq org-confirm-babel-evaluate nil)(org-latex-export-to-latex))'
%.html: %.org
        $(EMACS) --quick --visit=$< --eval='(progn (setq org-confirm-babel-evaluate nil)(org-html-export-to-html)(kill-emacs))'

This works just fine, however at some point I wanted to 'extend' this slightly with some special setting (omitted in this case), and consequently use a different output path:

%.conf.html: %.org
        $(EMACS) --quick --visit=$< --eval='(progn (setq org-confirm-babel-evaluate nil)(org-html-export-to-html)(kill-emacs))'

The problem is that I cannot seem to control the output path of the org-mode export commands as by default they only use the buffer-file-name. The "closest" options I have found is the setting #+EXPORT_FILE_NAME: <file> in the header. However, I would like to change this without editing the file, i.e., "externally". Is this possible somehow?

(I suppose that creating a temporary file in the same directory might work, but there may be subtle issues with that, something I'm hoping to avoid.)

  • I don't think you can "set" EXPORT_FILE_NAME externally (at least my cursory reading of the code has not uncovered such a method). The answer below is probably the best way to go, particularly since you are foregoing interactivity anyway.
    – NickD
    Jun 8, 2023 at 17:24

1 Answer 1


org-html-export-to-html calls org-export-to-file

Manually calling (org-export-to-file 'html "~/toto.html") exports to the given file. So you can extend this to work with your makefile.

  • This works great! I only changed it slightly by using (org-export-to-file (quote html) "$@") to avoid quoting problems in the shell and to use the automatic Makefile variables
    – Xaldew
    Jun 13, 2023 at 13:59

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