Can't seem to get TeX working on my Mac

So I downloaded and installed BasicTeX, then I went and installed TeXLive with some setup options here. However, nothing seems to be working. A few months ago I tried installing MacTeX but to no luck. Now, at school, with very slow internet, I can't commit the time to try a 1.3GB package again. Anyway, installation seemed to go fine, and all the correct files are there in /usr/texbin, but nothing seems to work.

I started by typing \alpha into a document and saving it as untitled.tex

TextMate is telling that TM_LATEX_MASTER has some problems. TeXShop does nothing but display an error box (with nothing in it). If I try to do it from command-line, aka $pdftex untitled.tex or $ pdflatex untitled.tex doesn't seem to do anything. No error messages, no output, nothing.

So I'm lost here. This is the second or third time I've attempted to get LaTeX working on my Mac, but nothing will work for me. Any pointers?

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BasicTeX is a TeXLive installation, the document just explains how the BasicTeX was put together. So you don't need to run TeXLive installer after installing BasicTeX. –  morbusg Jan 24 '12 at 21:10
@morbusg would you recommend I start all over? –  Jordan Scales Jan 24 '12 at 21:12
What happens at a command prompt if you type which pdflatex? Does it return /usr/bin/pdflatex or something else? –  Mike Renfro Jan 24 '12 at 21:16
Yeah, if somehow possible, try to start from a clean slate, and after (re)installing BasicTeX, you could check in the system preferences (in the apple-menu) if you can see an item "TeX Distribution" at the bottom from which you can check you have the one selected which you want (with BasicTeX that would read: "TeXLive-2011-Basic"; I know because that's what I'm using) –  morbusg Jan 24 '12 at 21:17
@MikeRenfro which pdflatex worked just fine. And @morbusg, starting from a clean seems to have worked perfectly. Thanks. Each time I was trying to do my own settings, but this seems to have worked. Much appreciated. –  Jordan Scales Jan 24 '12 at 21:23

(Turning a comment which seemed to help into an answer here)

BasicTeX is a TeXLive installation, the linked document just explains how it was put together. So you don't need to run TeXLive installer after installing BasicTeX.

So my suggestion is to start from a clean slate, and just (re)installing BasicTeX.

As it is TeXLive, you can manage it with tlmgr.

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I'd heartily suggest to install MacTeX instead. However +1 –  egreg Jan 24 '12 at 22:08
Or TeXlive if you want to work on other OSs as well… –  Seamus Jan 24 '12 at 22:27
@Seamus MacTeX is TeX Live; it just adds something to that (some helper programs and a control panel for switching from a version to another). –  egreg Jan 25 '12 at 9:17
@Seamus I'm not sure I follow. I have MacTeX on my Mac for the 'easy switching' functionality, but as it is just TeX Live + extras use tlmgr for management. Then I have (on the same physical machine) TeX Live on Windows (plus MiKTeX) and TeX Live on Ubuntu. –  Joseph Wright Jan 25 '12 at 9:18
I didn't know MacTeX was just TeXlive. –  Seamus Jan 25 '12 at 12:07