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** TeX on Yosemite **

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MacTeX works fine on Apple's latest operating system, Yosemite. This page lists a few problems users encountered with TeX when updating to Yosemite. A new operating system is expected in the fall of 2015; this page may be helpful for that update.

X Windows and Quartz

Some folks use xdvi to display TeX Output on X Windows. There are reports that links in X Windows are removed and the X11 display fails. The solution is to reinstall Quartz. To do so, go to


We have reports that Ghostscript is broken, but actually it isn't. We ship two Ghostscript binaries, one with support for X11 and one without this support. The binaries, in /usr/local/bin, are named gs-X11 and gs-noX11. The file gs in this location is a link to the approprite binary.

If Apple removes X11 during an update, the binary gs-X11 will fail to run. There are two easy solutions. The first is to install X11 as above. The second is to reset the link gs to point to gs-noX11. Users who don't know the appropriate Unix commands should install X11, because that is the easiest fix.

Installing Yosemite

The biggest problem by far with Yosemite occurs during installation, and then only for users who already have TeX. The installer begins by moving /usr/local to a temporary location. Then it installs the new system. Near the end, the installer moves the contents of /usr/local back to their original location, but in the process it carefully examines each file. Since TeX contains hundreds of thousands of files, this final step can last from an hour to over twelve hours. Users who let installation run all night report success in the end.

Avoiding the Problem

Ross Moore sent an extremely useful method of avoiding the problem. He writes

"A colleague tells me that the way to update to Yosemite, with one or more TeX installations installed, is to first

mv /usr/local/texlive ~
do the install, then
mv ~/texlive /usr/local

"This avoids the installer archiving, and then re-installing the hierarchy *file-by-file*. This kind of approach may be useful with other subdirectories of /usr/local as well."

This solution moves the texlive directory to the User's home directory, installs Yosemite, and then moves the texlive directory back to its proper location. In more detail, the appropriate commands are as follows (spaces in these commands are essential, so copying the commands may work better than retyping them):

sudo mv /usr/local/texlive ~
install Yosemite
sudo mv ~/texlive /usr/local

The TeX Dist Preference Pane

The TeX Dist Pane we distributed with MacTeX-2014 does not work in Yosemite. A newer replacement for Yosemite is available at

It is possible to recover the basic functions of the Preference Pane by using the command line. This was pointed out by Bruno Voisin. Open Terminal in /Applications/Utilities. To see a list of current TeX distributions:

texdist --list
To see the current active distribution
texdist --current
To set a new active distribution
sudo texdist --setcurrent=TeXLive-2014
This last command requires the exact name of the distribution, but the listing command will give the name recognized by the data structure. Notice that the listing includes ".texdist" which is not used when setting a new distribution.


CocoAspell runs fine on Yosemite, but the installer runs into trouble installing dictionaries on a fresh copy of Yosemite, and the Spelling Pref Pane installed by CocoAspell does not initially run. The author has been notified of the trouble.

One possible solution is listed below, but Thaddeus Perala provided an easier fix which does not require retrieving files from an earlier system. To read about his solution, click here.

In the release version of Yosemite, it is possible to resurrect cocoAspell as follows. From an installation of CocoAspell on Mavericks, go to /usr/local/lib and find a folder named aspell-0.60 and several libraries whose names start with libaspell or libpsell. Copy this folder and these libraries to Yosemite, and move them into /usr/local/lib, creating this folder if necessary. Using sudo, change the owner of the files to root.

Again on Mavericks, go to "/Library/Application Support" and find the folder named cocoAspell. Copy this folder to Yosemite and place it in "/Library/Application Support" there.

After these steps, the cocoAspell Preference Pane will run and the spell checker can be used as usual.