Tips And Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks on setting up on Mac OS X. These are based on my personal experience of using for the past 10 years or so; there may be better ways, but these work for me.

Running from the command line

Run this to make a symlink to ensure emacs is in your PATH.

sudo ln -s /Applications/ /usr/local/bin/emacs

Or, if you prefer Emacs to stay in the terminal instead of opening a new macOS window then there is a small shell wrapper included that forces the Emacs -nw parameter:

sudo ln -s /Applications/ /usr/local/bin/emacs

Using emacsclient

  1. Make sure the latest emacsclient binary is in your path:

    sudo ln -s /Applications/ /usr/local/bin
  2. Optionally add alias emacs='emacsclient -c -a ""' or alias emacs='emacsclient -nw -c -a ""' to your ~/.bashrc.

Making sure other terminal programs launch Emacs instead of Vim

Add this to your .bashrc:

export EDITOR="emacs"
export VISUAL="emacs"

Or, if you prefer Emacs to stay in the terminal instead of opening a new macOS window:

export EDITOR="emacs -nw"
export VISUAL="emacs -nw"

Or, if you prefer emacsclient

export VISUAL="emacsclient -c -nw -a ''"
export EDITOR="emacsclient -c -nw -a ''"

Or, …well, you get the picture. Just set those to whatever you want.

Using Emacs as the mergetool for git

Add add this snippet to your .gitconfig:

If you want to use emacsclient, add this snippet instead:

Changing the Modifier Keys


The easiest way is to use the Customize interface: "M-x customize-group RET ns RET".


If you don't like Customize and want to do it manually, the following variables control the modifier keys:

Each variable can be set to 'control, 'meta, 'alt, 'super, or 'hyper.

In addition ns-alternative-modifier (and ns-option-modifier) can be set to 'none, which lets it get interpreted by the OS so it can be used to input special characters.

The ns-right-* variables are set to 'left by default which makes them the same as their left counterpart.

Verifying the Binary Integrity

This site serves the binaries via SSL and while the binaries are not GPG signed, the application is code signed. You can verify the signature like this:

codesign -dvv /Applications/

Or, if you haven't installed emacs yet, but have mounted the disk image:

codesign -dvv /Volumes/Emacs/

Look for the following in the output:

Authority=Developer ID Application: Galvanix
Authority=Developer ID Certification Authority
Authority=Apple Root CA

"Galvanix" is my consulting partnership and is what I registered my Apple developer account under. If you see that, the binary is intact.