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A Smaller Distribution

This page contains an alternate TeX Distribution, BasicTeX, for users who do not want to download the full TeX Live. BasicTeX is a subset of TeX Live; it is much smaller than TeX Live and yet supports most standard TeX typesetting. BasicTeX has been updated to TeX Live 2013. The update requires OS X 10.5 or higher, for either Intel or PowerPC processors. BasicTeX does not overwrite the full distribution; it is installed in /usr/local/texlive/2013basic.

To use TeX on the Mac, it suffices to install BasicTeX and a front end. One way to get this front end is to install MacTeX-Additions below; it contains everything in MacTeX except the TeX Live distribution. Thus it contains Ghostscript, the "convert" utility from ImageMagick, the Latin Modern and TeX Gyre fonts, and the GUI Applications BibDesk, LaTeXiT, TeXShop, TeXworks, and Excalibur.

But most of these pieces are not really necessary if space is at a premium. You may already have a front end or a favorite editor and PDF display program. Or you might prefer to download one of the GUI programs we provide directly from their websites: BibDesk, LaTeXiT, TeXShop, TeXworks, Excalibur.

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MacTeX-Additions contains everything in MacTeX except the actual TeX distribution. Use the link below.


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BasicTeX is a subset of TeX Live designed for easy download by users with limited download speed. The package is remarkably capable. It contains all of the standard tools needed to write TeX documents, including TeX, LaTeX, pdfTeX, MetaFont, dvips, MetaPost, and XeTeX. It contains AMSTeX, the Latin Modern Fonts, the TeX Live Manager to add and update packages from TeX Live, and the new SyncTeX.

BasicTeX.pdf (about the BasicTeX distribution)