Installing LaTeX on a Mac

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LaTeX is a document preparation system, that is used a lot in sciences and is generally considered the fastest and most professional way to write documents containing lots of mathematical equations or different languages. It is also very robust (handling very large documents easily). In LaTeX, input and output are split into different files.

To see what LaTeX can do, visit the TeX Showcase

There are two main ways to install LaTeX on a Mac, the first is far simpler but requires downloading a 1.3 GB file. Both options listed below install universal versions of LaTeX. If you aren't sure what you are doing then the first option is recommended.


First (easier) option

  1. Go to
  2. Download the MacTex Package (admin rights may be required)
  3. Once the download is finished load the disk image (if it doesn't happen automatically) and run the installer (MacTeX-2010.mpkg) contained within.

The package includes open source programs such as TeXShop which enables you to create full LaTeX documents. Other editors, like Latexian, can be downloaded separately.

The package is based on an i-Installer setup (see below) and can be updated with i-Installer.

Second (more difficult) option

The more difficult way involves downloading less as you only install exactly what you need.

  1. Download and Install i-installer
  2. Run the application (should be located in /Applications/Utilities/)
  3. Go to the i-Package menu and choose the option 'known packages i-directory'
  4. Choose Gerben's i-Directory @ TUG (though Gerben's i-Directory @ NTG, Utah or Yale are just as good) if it's not already selected. Press the use button to access your chosen i-Directory.
  5. Find the i-Package 'gwTeX based on TeX Live' and click 'open i-package'
  6. Click 'install and configure'
  7. Choose to do a Basic Installation (Full gives you all the documentation as well). An Expert install will give you finegrained control on what is downloaded / configured, and is recommended for advanced users only.
  8. Enter your administrator password as required
  9. Next find the i-Package 'Ghostscript 8' and click 'open i-package'
  10. Click 'Install and configure' to install it.
  11. Enter your administrator password as required
  12. Now you have LaTeX installed on your system, you will need to download and install a program like Latexian or TeXShop to write full LaTeX documents. If you have multiple TeX installations on your system, a new System Preference will enable you to select which one is 'current'.

You can add the CM-Super and CB-Greek fonts and MusixTeX addition separately, These are then not overwritten when you update your TeX with i-Installer, these are under TeX Support in the i-Directory.

ConTeXt is an alternative to LaTeX. It's development is closely followed by the ConTeXt Updater i-Package.

The preferences of i-Installer give you the option to automatically check for i-Package updates at regular intervals (daily, weekly)

i-Installer is still being maintained (though less actively), but the e-mail support has been discontinued. For help, the Mac OS X TeX mailing list is your best bet.

Programs you can use to create LaTeX documents on the Mac.

  • Latexian - a LaTeX editor with Live Preview, which allows you to see how a document typesets while you edit it. Latexian also has Code Folding, Projects, Code Completion, and more.
  • LaTeXiT - a LaTeX program with Services support, best used to write equations for other programs like iWork, rather than full documents, supplied in the MacTex Distribution.
  • TeXShop - a LaTeX Program designed for writing full documents in LaTeX not just the equations, supplied in the MacTex Distribution.
  • iTexMac - a LaTeX program designed for writing full documents, more advanced and difficult to use than TeXShop but has an excellent library palette, has the ability to create projects in a similar way to Xcode. (Download the file closest to the top of the list.)
  • texmaker is a WYSYWIG cross-platform LaTeX document creator that has just about every symbol you could ever thing of. You need the Intel version for Intel Macs and the PPC version for PPC Macs, it also seems to have problems originally creating the product files.

LaTeX Resources