If you type equations regularly, you've probably heard of LaTeX. But the OSX distribution (MacTeX) is huge -- the 3 GB file can take forever to download, and it takes up a lot of space. BasicTeX is a much smaller alternative, but it's intimidating to new users. This tutorial sets you up with BasicTeX in no time, so you can easily get started.
1) Installing BasicTeX
I used Homebrew to install BasicTeX, since I can later use it to easily uninstall BasicTeX if needed. You install BasicTeX via
brew install brew-cask brew cask install mactex
2) Choosing an editor
TeXShop is nice if you want a GUI, but I wanted to stick to vim. Luckily, there's a great plugin called vim-latex that you can install in just a few steps. Either is fine, and their respective websites have walkthroughs to get them installed.
3) Fetching dependencies on the fly
Unfortunately, since BasicTeX is so bare-bones, you're going to have to download a lot of packages when you open new documents sometimes. But that's okay!
texliveonfly makes this incredibly easy. First, install:
tlmgr install texliveonfly
Whenever you get a new document, instead of running
latex, you can run:
4) Making things easier with .bashrc
I added a few lines to my
.bashrc file to make the commands more consistent:
alias latex-fix=texliveonfly alias latex-pdf=pdflatex alias latex-test=xdvi
After you write a document, use
latex-fix -- it will immediately convert it to a PDF and install any dependencies.
On the other hand, you could use the plain
latex command as well. If you want to preview the .dvi document generated by the normal
latex command, use
latex-test. Finally, to convert it to a PDF, just use
5) Downloading specific packages
Sometimes you might need to just download one specific package. Rather than using
texliveonfly, you can use
tlmgr directly. Just call
tlmgr install pkgname. For example:
LaTeX Error: File 'amsmath.sty' not found. ... tlmgr install amsmath
This will work most of the time. Sometimes, you might have to search for the package through CTAN and get the actual package name from there.
And that's it. Let me know if you have any difficulties!
For practice, you can try downloading this sample LaTeX file. One possible sequence of commands might be:
latex sample.tex latex-test sample latex-pdf sample
Another option is to just call
latex-fix sample.tex. If you just followed this tutorial, you're going to have to use
latex-fix, since you won't have any of the dependencies needed.