I would like to symlink my emacs init.el into a dotfiles repo - located at ~/Documents/Dotfiles. However, when I attempt to do so the command fails even though my prompt doesn't return an error - ls -la doesn't show a link there. For example, I might do the following:

ln -s ~/.emacs.d/init.el ~/Documents/Dotfiles/.emacs.d/init.el

Are emacs configs - due to their being, "under the covers", a directory - different in some way than other files you might want to symlink?


Tl;dr Aliases are weird and although the commands work, this link doesn't show in ls -la which is not really emacs' fault.


  • Clarify "the command fails". – Kusalananda Jan 6 '17 at 15:44
  • Trying this again, I get a "File exists" response - might be going in the wrong direction. See the screenshot above. – Chris Jan 6 '17 at 15:56
  • 1
    What shows ls -la /Users/Chris/Documents/Dotfiles/.emacs.d/init.el? If present delete the file and execute the command in verbose mode: ln -sv ... – marc Jan 6 '17 at 15:59
  • It looks like you have created the file ~/Documents/Dotfiles/.emacs.d/init.elalready. In that case ln will fail because the file already exists. Remove the file ~/Documents/Dotfiles/.emacs.d/init.el and then create the symlink. – Thomas Jan 6 '17 at 16:02
  • @mmmint ln: /Users/Chris/Documents/Dotfiles/.emacs.d/init.el: No such file or directory – Chris Jan 6 '17 at 16:31

As far as I can see, in my case this happens when the target link has directories which doesnt exist. Try this:

File should exist:

file /Users/Chris/.emacs.d/init.el

Remove previous symbolic link if present:

rm /Users/Chris/Documents/Dotfiles/.emacs.d/init.el

Now create needed directories:

mkdir -p /Users/Chris/Documents/Dotfiles/.emacs.d/

And create symolic link:

ln -s /Users/Chris/.emacs.d/init.el /Users/Chris/Documents/Dotfiles/.emacs.d/init.el

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