Whether you need to write a thesis, a scientific paper, or simply want to impress a potential employer with the perfect resume—sooner or later you’re going to come across . It is far superior to Microsoft Word and produces much more polished results. But how do you install on macOS? In this post I’m going to show you.
The short answer is: you don’t.
Installing is a pain in the ass. The distribution is huge (over 3 GiB). Many of its modules are written in C in which memory management is not as pleasant as in more modern languages such as Rust or Golang. This often results in memory leaks, meaning the distribution will eat all your RAM until your Mac is so slow that you have to reboot your computer. It’s just not worth it.
Instead, I highly recommend using an online solution like Overleaf.1 Overleaf is amazing. It takes care of all the boring stuff and saves you from installing everything locally. It let’s you focus on writing content rather than getting things to work. Overleaf is fantastic for collaborative writing too!
You can either use their web editor to write your documents online in your web browser or you use your Overleaf project like a Git repository which you can clone into a local directory so that you may use your favorite text editor and the superior version control features of Git. Simply copy the project URL from your browser’s address bar, replace the
git and clone the project just like you would with any GitHub repository:
git clone https://git.overleaf.com/YOUR_PROJECT_ID local_folder_name
Update: Overleaf announced their relaunch roughly one year after their acquisition of ShareLaTeX. In this new version, git access will be available only on their paid plan which—even with a 50% student discount—costs $6 per month. If you happen to also study at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, add your school email address to your Overleaf account so that we get a free, university-provided Pro account.
Use Local Installation
brew cask install mactex
MacTeX is a full installation and comes with several other packages such as a editor and a bibliography manager. But again, I don’t think it’s worth the hassle and you should go with Overleaf. Also, there are much better editors and bibliography managers available for macOS than those that come with MacTeX.
To keep this article short and brief, I’ll leave it at that for now. If you’re interested in my scientific writing workflow, let me know in the comment section below or tweet me. In case enough people are interested, I’ll reconsider writing some more paragraphs about the apps I use, how I conduct my research, and how I organize my references. A great tip I can already share is that arXiv.org let’s you download the source code of any paper, so you don’t have to embed crappy screenshots of PDFs in your own papers. Cheers!