Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The warning that I get, as soon as I open Emacs is this:

Warning (initialization): An error occurred while loading `/Users/Kaileeena/.emacs':

End of file during parsing: /Users/Kaileeena/.emacs

To ensure normal operation, you should investigate and remove the cause of the error in your initialization file. Start Emacs with the `--debug-init' option to view a complete error backtrace.

But how do I do that?

I've never used this software before, and I can't figure out where to even type.

share|improve this question
That ususally means -- You missed a bracket in .emacs -- or some package that You require missed that. Try to recall what You've been fidling with recently. – Adobe Mar 28 '13 at 5:17
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You're running Mac OS, right? Assuming you installed Emacs into the Applications folder, open a Terminal window (it's in the Utilities subfolder inside Applications) and type:

/Applications/ --debug-init
share|improve this answer
Thanks for your help, but I'm getting the same result as when I tried that through Emacs. All I see is a blank window. I was wondering if there should be some sort of log that would tell me exactly why I'm getting the warning in the first place? – Kaileeena Jan 23 '13 at 14:54
Hm, --debug-init should show you where the problem is... You could try adding -nw ("no window") to that command line. It will make Emacs run inside the terminal window, which might make it less confused. – legoscia Jan 23 '13 at 16:48

In addition to the suggestions to use emacs --debug-init, do this: Bisect your init file (~/.emacs) recursively until you find the problematic code. (E.g., use M-x comment-region to comment out half the code, then 1/4, then 1/8, then 1/16,... (With prefix arg C-u the same command uncomments the region.)

This is a binary search, so it is very quick to do.

But as @Adobe suggested, it is likely that you are missing one or more closing parens. Another approach is to use C-M-f repeatedly (just hold down that chord), until you get the error. That will be where you are missing a paren. (Start at the top level of the file and the leftmost paren of your first sexp.)

share|improve this answer

When you start emacs from a terminal simply add it after the command so that your complete command looks like emacs --debug-init.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.