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The reason why etags is out of date is that the emacs version installed on a Mac by default is also severely out of date. Emacs comes with etags, so when you install emacs via homebrew, you get a recent etags. But I would expect that emacsforosx also comes with etags. I assume that, if you look in the application folder, you will find etags somewhere ...


Would using ctags from homebrew be a sufficient replacement? It is quite up to date (Exuberant Ctags 5.8) and trivial to install if you have Xcode already and then install the brew package manager. It's manual page clearly indicates that it works with Emacs.


In this case I would install Aquamacs or Emacs for OS X to get the Cocoa version and Homebrew for the X11 version. Aquamacs is tuned to appear more Mac like so might not do exactly what you want - but all this is done in configuration so easy to change for an emacs veteran

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