I'm running gnu emacs 23.3.1 cocoa build on OS X 10.6.
I added the following to ~/Library/LaunchAgents/gnu.emacs.daemon.plist so that it will start a daemon and automatically restart emacs if I inadvertently kill it.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" 
 <plist version="1.0">
   <string>Gnu Emacs Daemon</string>

This sorta works but I noticed that my color theme wasn't working properly. Then I remembered I had added the following to my init file:

(when window-system 
  (require 'alpha)
  (require 'color-theme-ir-black)
  (modify-frame-parameters (selected-frame) '((alpha . 85)))

When started as a daemon window-system is false apparently and that makes sense, however the reason I added this is because I occasionally like to start the normal emacs build in a terminal from ssh etc and this color scheme is completely unreadable in iTerm thus the (when window-system ...). Is there a way to force emacs to start window mode when start with --daemon?

Another issue I have noticed is that when I run press s-w (delete-frame) in dameon mode I don't get the error attempt to delete sole visible or iconified frame and emacs continues to run in the background. I like this for the most part however I have noticed that once the last frame is killed I can no longer reopen emacs from the doc and although emacs will activate and menus are displayed they don't work and I can't create a new frame except by using emacsclient from the commandline. Anyone else have this issue and or recommendation on workaround? perhaps I can bind s-w to detect if last frame and iconify-frame instead, but not sure why it thinks its not the last window and allowed me to kill it in the first place.


I found a comment on the following blog by Steve Purcell with a fix for a very similar problem: http://emacs-fu.blogspot.com/2009/03/color-theming.html

The secret it seems is to use 'after-make-frame-functions hook to setup the newly created frame and also to (setq color-theme-is-global nil) so that each frame can have its own color theme. So the relevant sections of my init now looks like this:

(defvar after-make-console-frame-hooks '()
"Hooks to run after creating a new TTY frame")
(defvar after-make-window-system-frame-hooks '()
"Hooks to run after creating a new window-system frame")

(defun run-after-make-frame-hooks (frame)
"Selectively run either `after-make-console-frame-hooks' or
  (select-frame frame)
  (run-hooks (if window-system

(add-hook 'after-make-frame-functions 'run-after-make-frame-hooks)
(add-hook 'after-init-hook (lambda ()
  (run-after-make-frame-hooks (selected-frame))))

(setq color-theme-is-global nil)

(add-hook 'after-make-window-system-frame-hooks
          '(lambda ()
             (require 'alpha)
             (require 'color-theme-ir-black)
             (modify-frame-parameters (selected-frame) '((alpha . 85)))
             (global-set-key (kbd "s-w") 'delete-frame)))

However, I am still having the issue where delete-frame closes the last frame when emacs was started as daemon and not allowing me to create a new frame other then by using emacsclient.


If I eval (frame-list) I see there are 2 frames listed even though only one is visible. I noticed that this does not occur if I start Emacs with open /Applications/Emacs.app instead of emacsclient. I normally start emacs from the commandline with an alias e='emacsclient -c -n ' which is what creates the second frame. I can only seem to attach to the other frame by starting emacs with the open command. If I try emacsclient -n somefile without -c I get nothing, and if I run emacsclient -n -e '(frame-list)' I see there is a frame its just not visible until I use -c to create new frame or open emacs from the applications folder.

  • This does not look like an Emacs question.
    – ceving
    Jun 4 '11 at 17:53

Running a process or application as a launchd daemon gives it a very different environment from running it normally or on the command line. I wonder if it might not work better to instead use a shell script as a login item.

For example:

while true
  open -W /Applications/Emacs.app

This script would need to be saved to a file with a .command extension and 755 permissions (chmod 0755 myemacsscript.command) and then added to the System Preferences : Login : Login Items pane.

When you login, Terminal will launch and run this script. You will probably want to setup a default terminal profile that excludes terminal from prompting on quit for this particular script, so that it doesn't hold you up when you log out.

I have no idea if this will fix the particular problems with Emacs.app, but it may at least provide an environment closer to what Emacs.app expects.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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