Obviously to use the Emacs Prelude you have to install Emacs first. We'll assume you can manage this part on your own. Aim for the newest stable Emacs release, although as a rule of thumb Prelude aims to support the last 2-3 stable releases.

For spell-checking to work you should install aspell, together with its dictionaries for the languages you wish to check.

You'll also do well to install some of the following:

  • git (needed by Magit)
  • ag (the_silver_searcher) or ripgrep (Projectile has nice integration with them and they are much faster than grep)
  • your favorite lint tools (for Flycheck)

All those tools are completely optional, though.


Additional external tools might be needed by some of the modules (e.g. tools specific to particular programming languages, etc).



You can install Emacs Prelude via the command line with either curl or wget. Naturally git is also required.

The installer script will do the following:

  • Clone Prelude's GitHub repo
  • Check your Emacs version
  • Backup any existing .emacs or .emacs.d you might have
  • Create any additional folders if necessary (e.g. for storing package-specific data)

If you have a .emacs file it will backed up as .emacs.pre-prelude and if you have a .emacs.d folder, it will be backed up as .emacs.d.pre-prelude.tar.

Via Curl

If you're using curl type the following command:

$ curl -L | sh

Via Wget

If you're using wget type:

$ wget --no-check-certificate -O - | sh


Make sure you do not have any ~/.emacs file or ~/.emacs.d folder present.

$ git clone git:// path/to/local/repo
$ ln -s path/to/local/repo ~/.emacs.d
$ cd ~/.emacs.d


If you are using Windows, you should check what Emacs thinks the ~ directory is by running Emacs and typing C-x d ~/<RET>, and then adjust the command appropriately.

System-wide (site-wide)

For a multi-user environment, as an admin, the customizations intended for all users go in the site-start file represented by the variable site-run-file, while single users will use their own init file represented by the variable user-init-file.

If you have placed your Prelude directory in /opt/prelude then, append the following line to the site-start.el:

(load "/opt/prelude/init.el")

If you are using Emacs as a daemon process, with other users or daemon processes interacting with the Emacs daemon (e.g. Emacs is your window manager) then the site-lisp directory could be the right place to place your configuration files.

Pinning packages

By default, Prelude will install packages from the MELPA and GNU ELPA package repositories. Occasionally package integration can break when upgrading packages, as the packages in the MELPA repository are all snapshot builds. This can be avoided by pinning packages to stable versions in other repositories (e.g. MELPA Stable). To do so, copy prelude-pinned-packages.el from the sample directory to Prelude's root directory and adjust the variables inside accordingly.

Enabling additional modules

By default most of the modules that ship with Prelude are not loaded. For more information on the functionality provided by these modules visit the docs.

;;; Uncomment the modules you'd like to use and restart Prelude afterwards

(require 'prelude-c)
;; (require 'prelude-clojure)
;; (require 'prelude-coffee)
;; (require 'prelude-common-lisp)
;; (require 'prelude-css)
(require 'prelude-emacs-lisp)
(require 'prelude-erc)
;; (require 'prelude-erlang)
;; (require 'prelude-elixir)
;; (require 'prelude-haskell)
(require 'prelude-js)
;; (require 'prelude-latex)
(require 'prelude-lisp)
(require 'prelude-org)
(require 'prelude-perl)
;; (require 'prelude-python)
;; (require 'prelude-ruby)
;; (require 'prelude-scala)
(require 'prelude-scheme)
;; (require 'prelude-scss)
;; (require 'prelude-web)
(require 'prelude-xml)

You'll need to adjust your prelude-modules.el file once the installation is done.

In case of an automated installation, you'll find this file in the personal directory of your Emacs installation.

If you are doing a manual install then you first need to copy the prelude-modules.el available in the sample directory to the root of path/to/prelude/installation and then adjust that one.

After you've uncommented a module you should either restart Emacs or evaluate the module require expression with C-x C-e.

Updating Prelude

Automatic update

Simply run M-x prelude-update from Emacs itself and restart Emacs afterwards.

Manual update

The update procedure is fairly straightforward and consists of 3 steps:

Update all bundled packages

Just run M-x package-list-packages RET U x.


Technically speaking, this will update all the packages you've installed, not just those that were bundled with Prelude. That's fine most of the time.

Update Prelude's code

$ cd path/to/prelude/installation
$ git pull

The path/to/prelude/installation is usually ~/.emacs.d (at least on Unix systems).

Restart Prelude

It's generally a good idea to stop Emacs after you do the update. The next time Prelude starts it will install any new dependencies (if there are such).

Uninstalling Prelude

Provided you've installed Prelude in .emacs.d, all you need to do is delete that folder. If you opted for the manual installation and making .emacs.d a symlink - you remove/update the link. Yeah, it's as simple as that. No fancy uninstaller required!