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I just got a Macbook (my first one!) and want to know how to configure Emacs to run in the same way it runs in Linux. That is, if I type "emacs foo.c &" in the Terminal, I want to either open either a new or existing file called foo.c in a separate Emacs window, NOT in the terminal.

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If the emacs you are running in Linux creates a new window then you are running it as an X11 application (a GUI application). Normally emacs on Linux and other systems just runs in the terminal you have open (as a console application).

The version of emacs that ships with OS X is compiled just to run in a terminal. To replicate running in a new window you need another version of emacs. I would use Aquamacs which is an emacs modified to act like a normal OSX Cocoa app. The standard GNU emacs has a Cocoa app version which defaults to be more similar to behaviour on other platforms and is available in a binary version here.

You can also get X11 versions as well. Here is an exhaustive list of the available types of emacs for OS X.

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  • The can also get that standard emacs from homebrew with brew install emacs.
    – rptb1
    Jan 21 at 18:39
  • Most package managers do provide emacs eg macports fink conda. Also several places to download from. Don't make a decision on package managers on just emacs.
    – mmmmmm
    Jan 21 at 19:11

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