Installing Emacs on Windows 95/98/2K/NT/ME/XP/Vista/7/8/10

July 1, 2020

Many people have successfully installed emacs on Windows 95, 98, 2K, NT, ME, XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10 using the instructions below.

Disclaimer: This page is being maintained mainly for my students. Use these instructions at your own risk if you are not a student taking one of my classes. There is no warranty in any form or shape whatsoever! There is no guarantee that these instructions are up-to-date although I will try to update them for my students on an on-going basis. With that understood you may continue with the rest of this page if you choose to accept these terms.

Emacs version 26.3: This was the latest version available at the time of this writing (July 1, 2020).

Follow these steps to download and install Emacs on your windows machine. There is no room for creativity here; you must follow the directions exactly - every single word.!.

  1. Pick the drive and a folder in which you want to install Emacs. I'll assume that it is C:\emacs, but you can choose a different one. If you choose a different drive or a different folder, you'll need to adapt the directions below accordingly.
  2. Create an empty folder C:\emacs.
  3. Go here and download the following (or the latest version if you find a newer one) under the link emacs-26/ into the folder that you created above:    2019-08-30 09:05 215M  
    At this point, you should have one file named of about 225.7 megabytes in the C:\emacs folder. Check to be sure.
  4. Click on that file using Windows Explorer to extract files from that archived file. When you click on that file, you will see a number of folders including bin. Inside the bin folder, you will see runemacs.exe. Click on it to run. The system will tell you that you would have to extract the file to be able to run. Extract all files into the folder C:\emacs. (Extracting the files took about an hour for me -:( ). Once extraction is done, you will see folders such as bin, etc, include, etc. At this point, you have downloaded and placed the files in the right places.
  5. Depending on the operating system that you use, choose one of the following paths:

  6. Restart your machine.
  7. Let's run emacs now. At this point, you might want to create an icon on your desktop for the Emacs that you just installed. Go to the C:\emacs\bin folder using Windows Explorer. There you will find a file named runemacs.exe. Create a Shortcut, then you will see a file named runemacs.exe - Shortcut. Before you drag it to the desktop or to the dock, you might want to change the default 'Start in' folder. Change it to whatever you like through the Properties menu of the Shortcut file. In my case, I changed it from C:\emacs\bin to C:\Users\alee, which is my home folder. Your emacs will use that folder as the base folder when it looks for a file to edit. Now, you are ready to drag the Shortcut file to the desktop or to the dock so that you can use it to run Emacs from there from now on. Now, you should be in business - run it! If it doesn't work, you've made a mistake in one of the steps above. Double and triple check.
  8. Now you are ready to customize your emacs a little so that it will recognize the syntax of the source file that you will edit, e.g., Java files with the .java extension. It also adds other nice features such as file name completion. So, do it by all means. Download init.el to C:\emacs\.emacs.d\init.el by right-clicking on the link. Yes, there should be a folder named .emacs.d by now since you should have run emacs at least once by now. Download init.el into that folder.
  9. If you want to clean up a little, you may delete at this point. You still need .emacs.d in the C:\emacs folder though.
  10. To learn how to use Emacs, try this simple tutorial that I wrote. If you want something more serious, try Emacs Tutorial that you can find under the Help menu in the Emacs window.
  11. [Optional:] GNU Emacs FAQ For MS Windows.

Maintained by Art Lee (alee att sunykorea dott ac dott kr). Last modified . . .