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.

  • 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, 2013 at 5:17

4 Answers 4


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/Emacs.app/Contents/MacOS/Emacs --debug-init
  • 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, 2013 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, 2013 at 16:48
  • can this applied for the emacsclient?
    – alper
    Oct 1, 2022 at 11:55
  • can this applied for the emacsclient?
    – alper
    Jan 10 at 10:59
  • 1
    Seems like it did not work, emacs --daemon and ` emacs --debug-init -nw ~/doo` runs their own daemon
    – alper
    Jan 11 at 13:37

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.)

  • Drew has the right idea, but there's a better way to go about it: use "bug-hunter", which is an emacs package that automatically does the bisection search for you. Dec 13, 2022 at 23:32

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


Just write emacs --debug-init in your terminal, you can do M-x info RET to see the other options and learn what is for what.

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