How to Use LaTeX on Mac

LaTeX is quite popular in scientific writing. I use it from day to day for my papers and dissertation. With LaTeX, you can focus on the content without bothering the format. Especially, PDF files are much more convenient to share than DOC files. Here is a straight-forward guide to configure your LaTeX on Mac.

LaTeX distribution

First of all, you need a LaTeX distribution to compile your files. On Windows you may use MiKTex or TeX Live. On Mac you only have one choice, MacTex, which is the Mac version of TeX Live. TeX Live is a full collection of all the latex packages, which means you have already install everything you need. For Windows users, I also suggest you to use TeX Live. It compiles, at least I feel, faster than MiKTex.

Download MacTex

LaTeX editor

After you install MacTex, you need a text editor. In fact, MacTex already includes TeXShop. It is a nice editor. But I am sorry, I do not know much about it. It is only available on Mac. I have to use other platforms as well. Here, I recommend two cross-platform editors TeXstudio and Sublime Text 3.


I think TeXstudio is really a good choice for LaTeX beginners. I use it when I started to learn LaTeX. The interface is very friendly. You may easily find what you need in the menus. The PDF preview is embedded. It also provides a structure view, which is quite handy for large files, for instance a dissertation.

TeXStudio editor for LaTeX

Download TeXstudio

However, it also has its own pitfalls. I found the embedded PDF previewer can not correctly present my figures sometime. It also takes more time to compile the files than the Sublime Text 3. As I get more and more familiar with LaTeX, I would like to have something simple and fast. Then, I change to Sublime Text 3 with LaTeXTools.

Sublime Text 3

Sublime Text 3 is a general purpose editor. In fact, you can edit any text you like, such as LaTeX, MATLAB, and Python. I use it for coding. It makes editing a lot of fun. It is almost free. If you want to simply your workflow and get familiar with a good editor for all your text. Sublime Text 3, I think, is the best choice.

Download Sublime Text 3

To use Sublime Text 3 for LaTeX, you need to install Sublime Text Package Control first, which gives you access to install packages or tools on Sublime Text 3. It is actually quite easy. Just follow the following link:

Install Sublime Text Package Control

Then, restart your Sublime Text 3, press cmd + shift + p to open you package control panel. Type in ‘LaTeXTools’ and click the one you want. Or you can download it here:

Download LaTeXTools

Remember to read the LaTeXTools manual carefully.

The final step is to install Skim, which is a free PDF reader that allows you to interact with Sublime Text in editing LaTeX.

Download Skim

To configure the Skim, you need to access the preference sync panel as the following:

Skim setting for LaTeX

Remember to uncheck the ‘Check for file changes’.

Then, you are ready to go. Here is what I have for my dissertation.

SublimeText for LaTeX

That is it.