Some notes on using Aquamacs

13 Jul 2012

Because I keep forgetting all the little details, I am writing them down.

Aquamacs is a great text editor for OS X. It does, however, have its idiosyncrises. So, here I am keeping notes on what worked for me.


First of all, Google is your friend. But there is also some good documentation on the EmacsWiki site.

Configuration file

The Aquamacs does not use the standard .emacs locations. Instead, the stuff is hidden in the library. For details, check the Aquamacs FAQ. I tend to edit the files in ~/Library/Preferences/Aquamacs Emacs/ by hand, especially customizations.el.

To be honest, this exasperates me so much, that I have learned to use the ‘customization’ tool.


In using Aquamacs, I wanted to start using it as the default editor. Some research was needed.


I edited .bash_profile and added the following`;

# editor setup
export EDITOR='/Applications/'
alias e=$EDITOR

Probably I should research how to use ALTERNATE_EDITOR to startup Aquamacs, but I want to be sure that I am actually on a windowing station to do that – too lazy at the moment. Maybe later. As it is now, Aquamacs will be used when it’s running (like when I’m working on this website), and vi will be used otherwise.

It also sets up a shorthand editing alias e for my convenience.

To get the server to automatically load, I used the customization interface (Aquamacs -> Preferences, Interfacing to external utilities, Server) to enable ‘Server Mode’. That way, any time Aquamacs starts up, it will be listening.


Ending an editing session that was started this way, goes as follows:

C-x #

Many people rebind this key to something like C-c c to better match other applications like GNUS or VCS. Maybe I will too, some day.