2016 New Features - MacTeX - TeX Users Group mactexlion logo OX5

** New Features in MacTeX-2016 and TeX Live 2016 **

TWG  |  MacTeX  |  Donate  |  FAQ  |  Fonts  |  Help  |  References  |  Support  |  Acknowledgments  |  TUG


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 2016 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.

Leopard and TeX Live Utility

MacTeX-2016 still supports Leopard on both PowerPC and Intel machines. This support is becoming more and more difficult to provide. Because Leopard has an old version of perl, the enhanced tlmgr did not run on it until the author, Norbert Preining, added code to work around these perl problems at the very end of TeX Live 2016 development.

Moreover, recent copies of TeX Live Utility do not run on Leopard, so MacTeX installs a very old version of that program. Source code for that version is no longer available, so TeX Live Utility on Leopard cannot be changed. Since TeX Live Utility calls tlmgr to provide actual updates, the changes in tlmgr affect its performance.

TeX Live Utility can install two types of updates to TeX Live: critical updates and regular updates. The program still works in TeX Live 2016 for regular updates. But for critical updates, it appears to work and then reports an error at the last moment. This error does no harm to the system, but users must then install the critical update from the command line. Open Terminal in /Applications/Utilities and type the command

sudo tlmgr update --self
This will install the critical update. Restart TeX Live Utility and install remaining regular updates.

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 2015, TeX Live 2016, 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 2016 distribution, they could easily retreat to the 2015 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 2016, 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 "Reconfigure Distributions..." 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, this link is NOT changed by either the Pref Pane or TeX Live Utility when switching distributions. Avoid the temptation to switch without help!

Special Considerations for Leopard

The Preference Pane functionality was not added to the special version of TeX Live Utility for Leopard. Leopard users can still use the old Preference Pane if they like. It is also possible to switch active distributions on the command line.

Users on all systems can switch distributions using Terminal. Type

texdist --list
and push RETURN to see a list of TeX Distributions available on a computer. Type
texdist --current
and push RETURN to see the currently active distribution. Type
sudo texdist ?setcurrent=TeXLive-2016.texdist
and push RETURN to switch to TeXLive-2016, and a similar command to switch to other distributions. The exact name of a distribution is the name provided by the list command.

Final Remarks on Leopard

Providing Leopard support is becoming more and more difficult, and each year there is talk of dropping that support. Old versions of MacTeX are archived at ftp://ftp.tug.org/historic/systems/mactex/ so Leopard users could always obtain the final package we provide. When accessing the archive, use the Guest password. The main disadvantage is that neither tlmgr nor TeX Live Utility could be used to update style files, pkg files, fonts, and the like, and users would have to retreat to downloading these from CTAN and installing on their own.

If you have an active Leopard system and want to urge continuation of support, please write one of

Richard Koch, Email: < koch@uoregon.edu >
Herbert Schulz, Email: < herbs@wideopenwest.com >


The program xdvi in the original release of MacTeX-2016 runs with XQuartz 2.7.8, but not with the latest release, XQuartz 2.7.9. Updating your system with TeX Live Utility will fix this problem on Snow Leopard and above, but you must then update XQuartz to the latest version.


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 2016, 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 9.19

Ghostscript-9.19, released just before work began on MacTeX-2016, 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/9.18/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 2016

About TeX Live

MacTeX installs a completely unmodified copy of the full TeX Live 2016 distribution. This is exactly the same distribution that runs on OS X, Windows, GNU/Linux, various BSD Unix systems, and other systems.

MacTeX-2016 contains two binary directories. The first, universal-darwin, contains 32 bit binaries for Intel and PowerPC; these run on Macs which have OS X 10.5 or later. The second, x86_64-darwin, contains 64 bit Intel binaries compiled on Snow Leopard; these programs run on Intel machines which are 64 bit capable and are running Snow Leopard or higher.

For new features in TeX Live 2016, see The TeX Live Guide for TeX Live 2016.


Very extension changes were made in LuaTeX for 2016. These include redefining some of the primitive commands in the program, a change that requires changes in most style files and packages used by the program. The LaTeX team worked very hard to accommodate these changes, but users will like encounter many other files which must be changed. If you have a problem try placing the line


before the \documentclass command. That line restores some of the compatibility with the behavior of LuaTeX 0.85.0 of TeX Live 2015.

Other changes in LuaTeX break support for dfonts on the Macintosh when using this program.

Users extensively using LuaTeX should join appropriate mailing lists about the program, visit LuaTeX blogs, etc.

Older TeX Live Changes

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