2017 New Features - MacTeX - TeX Users Group mactexlion logo OX5

** New Features in MacTeX-2017 and TeX Live 2017 **

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TeX Live Utility and tlmgr

The TeX Live infrastructure and in particular the command line program tlmgr (TeX Live Manager) have been extensively revised for added security. This support is provided by the encryption program PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), and more specifically the open source version of this program Gnupg, abbreviated gpg. This program is often provided on Linux systems, but is not part of Mac OS.

Because some countries have legal restrictions on encryption software, gpg is not provided by TeX Live. Tlmgr will operate without security enhancements if gpg is absent.

Most Macintosh users don't directly access tlmgr, but instead use it indirectly through TeX Live Utility, which is installed in /Applications/TeX. TeX Live Utility has been upgraded to support the new tlmgr. When it first runs after TeX Live 2017 is installed, it displays a dialog titled ``Enable security validation of packages.". If the user clicks "Enable," gpg is downloaded from a third party site and installed inside TeX Live.

TeX Live Utility and the TeX Dist Pref Pane

Previously, MacTeX installed a preference pane for Apple's System Preferences allowing users to select the active TeX distribution. The Pane displayed existing TeX distributions on a computer; for instance, it might list TeX Live 2016, TeX Live 2017, and Basic TeX 2014. Clicking a button before an item in the list made that distribution active. Automatically all GUI programs and the command line shell switched to use the new distribution. Consequently, if a user encountered a crucial bug in the 2017 distribution, they could easily retreat to the 2016 distribution.

Unfortunately, this Preference Pane was a plugin for System Preferences, and if Apple changed System Preferences, then the Preference Pane needed to be recoded. Apple often made changes. Originally the Pane required PPC code. After the Intel transition, it required both PPC and Intel code bundled in a universal binary. When 64 bit Macintoshes were introduced, the Pane required 64 bit code using garbage collection. Then garbage collection proved too slow for the iPhone, so Apple invented a new memory management technique called Automatic Reference Counting, and they required that the 64 bit code use Automatic Reference Counting rather than garbage collection. Indeed, garbage collection is now deprecated on the Mac.

Handling these various versions became a nightmare. MacTex had to have copies of all the forms of the Preference Pane, and select the appropriate copy for the user's particular operating system. But if the user later updated to a new system, the Preference Pane could stop working.

In MacTeX 2017, the functionality of the Preference Pane has been moved to TeX Live Utility and the Preference Pane is no longer provided. To see a list of TeX distributions on your machine, run TeX Live Utility and select the item "Change Default TeX Live Version" from the Configure menu. A list of distributions will appear. Select the distribution you want to activate.

MacTeX does not remove old Preferencee Panes. The Pref Pane and TeX Live Utility do the same thing to switch between distributions, so if your Pane still works, you can continue to use it. To remove the pane, go to /Library/PreferencePanes and move TeXDistPrefPane.prefPane to the trash.

Many users know that /Library/TeX/texbin is a symbolic link to the binaries of the active distribution, replacing /usr/texbin in older systems. However, neither link is changed by TeX Live Utility or the Preference Pane when switching distributions. So please avoid the temptation to "do the job yourself by rewriting /Library/TeX/texbin."


MacTeX installs the full version of TeX Live, well over 2 gigs worth of material. A smaller download, BasicTeX, is available, requiring a download of roughly 110 megs. In the past, we provided a package named MacTeX-Additions, containing Ghostscript and the GUI apps for users of BasicTeX. In 2017, we eliminated MacTeX-Additions. Instead, we provide a Ghostscript standalone install package, and provide links to the web pages supporting the GUI apps in MacTeX.

Both MacTeX and BasicTeX install ``TeX Distribution Data Structures'' in /Library/TeX/Distributions containing links to various parts of the distribution. This data is used by TeX Live Utility, by Ghostscript, and by others. Data structures from other distributions remain untouched. Our philosophy is that each distribution should control its own data.

Ghostscript 9.21

Ghostscript-9.21 was extensively customized to support typesetting in the Far East. We were initially contacted by Munehiro Yamamoto about revisions for Japan. Then work was done by Kuroki Yusuke, Bruno Voisin, and Norbert Preining to perfect the configuration.

Ghostscript installs resources in /usr/local/share/ghostscript/9.21/Resource. By adding material to this location, Ghostscript can be enhanced without recompiling. Ghostscript comes with the "base 35" fonts required for Postscript, and this is enough for standard TeX applications like converting postscript files to pdf files, or converting eps illustrations to png illustrations. But sometimes, Ghostscript requires access to additional fonts. Two years ago, Bruno Voisin extended our Ghostscript package to give it access to many pfb font files in TeX Live.

In China, Japan, and Korea, more much extensive knowledge of CJK fonts is often required, depending on the typesetting engine used. Yusuke, Voisin, and Preining provide this knowledge for Japanese. Preliminary work has also been done for Chinese and Korean. In addition, Preining wrote a script which can search a user's machine for other fonts and add appropriate configuration files to Ghostscript. All of this is described in more detail in a document MacTeX installs in /Applications/TeX, and in a READ ME file for users in Japan by Yusuke Terada, also installed in /Applications/TeX.

TeX Live 2017

About TeX Live

MacTeX installs a completely unmodified copy of the full TeX Live 2017 distribution. This is exactly the same distribution that runs on OS X, Windows, GNU/Linux, various BSD Unix systems, and other systems.

For new features in TeX Live 2017, see The TeX Live Guide for TeX Live 2017.

Older TeX Live Changes

We'd like to call attention to three changes in TeX Live 2010 which remain important today: