Keeping Your Emacs Packages Up to Date

A question you’ll eventually ask yourself…

“How do I update my packages?”

Emacs won’t remind you! You have to remember to do it and initiate the process yourself.

Luckily it’s pretty easy!

The package listing

Unfortunately there isn’t a simple command you can use that will run the update process for you.

We’ll have to start up the package menu with M-x list-packages

This view shows you all available packages and everything you have installed! We will talk more about it in a future video.

Initiating an upgrade

For now, the important thing to know is that you can mark all packages for upgrading using the U key (capital ’u’). This will mark all packages with updates so that they will be upgraded.

You can also mark individual packages for upgrade using u (lower-case ’u’).

Once you’ve marked packages for upgrade, press x (lower-case ’x’) to initiate the upgrade!

After this completes, you should restart Emacs to make sure you load the latest versions of all your packages.

Updating your packages automatically

There’s a useful package called auto-package-update which will help you configure Emacs to automatically upgrade your packages on a regular basis!

auto-package-update.el on GitHub

(use-package auto-package-update
  (auto-package-update-interval 7)
  (auto-package-update-prompt-before-update t)
  (auto-package-update-hide-results t)
  (auto-package-update-at-time "09:00"))

You can also use M-x auto-package-update-now to update right now!

Should I update my packages automatically?

It depends!

Package updates can possibly break your configuration. That doesn’t mean you should be afraid to update, though.

It is possible that you could back up your package folder using the auto-package-update-before-hook. If you’re interested in an approach for this, let me know in the comments!

What’s next?

In a future video, I’ll go more in depth on Emacs’ built-in package manager, package.el.

I’m also planning to make videos on alternative package managers like straight.el so that you have even more options on how you can manage your configuration!

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