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** New Features in MacTeX-2020 and TeX Live 2020 **

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MacTeX-2020 installs the typesetting portions of the distribution in /usr/local/texlive/2020, a location rarely seen by users. The graphical interface programs needed to access TeX are installed in /Applications/TeX. This location was simplified last year for easier use. The four GUI programs BibDesk, LaTeXiT, TeX Live Utility, and TeXShop are at the top level, and a small number of documents and spelling programs are in a folder named Docs and Spell Utilities.

If users installed other programs in /Applications/TeX, they will remain, of course. Old documents installed in /Applications/TeX by MacTeX will be removed because they now live in the Docs and Spell Utilities folder. The Excalibur Spell Checking program has been removed because it only has 32 bit code and the current version of macOS requires that all applications have 64 bit code.

Catalina now requires that install packages be notarized and programs they contain adopt a hardened runtime. MacTeX usually installs four GUI programs, but only two of them have been upgraded for notarization. Those programs, TeXShop and LaTeXiT, are installed by MacTeX.

The other GUI programs we usually install are TeX Live Utility and BibDesk. Since they have not been updated, they cannot be supplied by MacTeX-2000. Instead MacTeX installs a short document in /Applications/TeX listing urls where these programs can be obtained.

The four GUI programs we usually install are TeX Live Utility, a program to update and maintain TeX Live, BibDesk, a program to create reference databases, LaTeXiT, a program to create mathematical formulas to be dragged into applications like KeyNote and Pages, and TeXShop, a front end to TeX and LaTeX. New users should open the folder Docs and Spell Utilities and read the short document READ ME FIRST. This document explains how to create and typeset a short document using TeXShop, and then lists many ways to learn more about TeX and begin serious work.

Many front ends are available on the Macintosh for TeX. Some are commercial and some are free. A number of free alternatives are available in the MacTextras portion of MacTeX.

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. Unfortunately, this Preference Pane was a plugin for System Preferences, and when Apple changed System Preferences, the Preference Pane needed to be recoded. Apple often made changes.

In 2017, the functionality of the Preference Pane was 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 Preference Panes. 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 6 gigs worth of material. A smaller download, BasicTeX, is available, requiring a download of roughly 110 megs.

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 9.50

Ghostscript-9.50 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/9.50/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. As used in the Far East, the fonts are not embedded in the file processed by Ghostscript, so Ghostscript needs direct access to the fonts being used, which can be fonts installed in the user's operating system as well as TeX Live fonts.

Norbert Preining wrote a script to search a user's computer and configure Ghostscript to support available CJK fonts. That script supports Chinese, Japanese, and Korean and is now part of TeX Live. Users in these countries are encouraged to run it. To see the current state of the script, go to To run the script in TeX Live, open Terminal in /Applications/Utilities, type the following lines, pushing RETURN after each one, and type your password when it is requested.

sudo tlmgr --repository install cjk-gs-integrate-macos
sudo cjk-gs-integrate-macos
To get documentation about this script, type
texdoc cjk-gs-integrate

An optional part of the Ghostscript 9.50 package installs the library libgs. This library is required by only one program in TeX Live, dvisvgm.

TeX Live 2020

About TeX Live

MacTeX installs a completely unmodified copy of the full TeX Live 2020 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 2020, see The TeX Live Guide for TeX Live 2020.

Notable TeX Live changes

One change made in 2019 may be immediately noticeable. The default encoding for input sources to LaTeX has changed from ISO Latin 9 to UTF-8 Unicode. Standard ASCII files satisfy both encoding rules and thus are accepted as usual. Latin 9 is an encoding standard that adds to ASCII various accents, umlauts, and special characters like upside down question marks used in Western Europe. From 2020 on, such input files require a LaTeX header line

UTF-8 is an encoding standard for full unicode, which can simultaneously encode most scripts used across the world: Roman, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Hieroglyphics, Japanese, etc. Until now, Latex sources using this encoding required the header line

but this line is now optional because UTF-8 is the default.

Older TeX Live Changes

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