I would like to know how to install LaTeX on Mac 10.6 or higher.
But the MacTeX is some 1.28 GB file! Is there a smaller distribution I could install?
What exactly is TeX Live?
MacTeX (and by extension TeX Live) are so big because they contain everything up to, and including the kitchen sink, then heaps on yet more stuff. Odds are, out of that 1.3 GB archive you will only use 300-400 MB worth of files on a regular basis. This is similar in size to an application like OpenOffice.
There is an alternative to downloading and installing a 1.3 GB TeX distribution if you are using Mac OS X.
One thing that hasn't been mentioned here, or in I want to start using LaTeX on a MacOS. Where do I start? is that MacTeX is available in a "Lite" edition called BasicTeX that has been stripped down to ~90 MB.
The trade-off that comes with using BasicTeX is that you will have to download and install additional packages and programs as the need arises- and BasicTeX is so basic that the need will arise. Unfortunately this is a lot more difficult for first time users than it really has to be. MikTeX has been delighting TeX newcomers on Windows for years by automagically installing missing packages as they are needed.
So, after installing BasicTeX you will be faced with the tasks of installing additional programs and installing missing packages.
Installing Additional Programs
The components of TeX Live installed by MacTeX and BasicTeX includes TeX compilers and associated macro-systems such as LaTeX, ConTeXt and their add-on packages and modules. These programs are command line based and focus on turning
MacTeX includes additional programs such as an editor and a BibTeX reference manager that help users to work with TeX outside of the command line. BasicTeX does not include these GUI programs. There are two ways to add GUI support to BasicTeX.
Install the MacTeX Additions
Go to the page where BasicTeX is available for download and download the mactex-additions package. Installing this package will provide all the GUI programs that are included in MacTeX but excluded from BasicTeX.
Do it Buffet-Style
Since the whole point of installing BasicTeX over MacTeX was to avoid downloading things we never use- you can install the GUI programs yourself by mixing and matching to your liking. Here are some things you may want:
Installing Missing TeX Live Components
You will know there is a missing package when you attempt to compile your document and compilation stops with an error message that looks like this:
In this case, LaTeX is trying to load a package named
MacTeX is, as the other answer says, basically TeX Live with a few extras. The extras are things like TeX Shop, a Mac-only TeX editor. The reason TeX Live is so big is that there are a lot of LaTeX packages, and most have documentation in PDF format. It's actually this documentation that takes up a lot of the space. You can install only part of TeX Live, but the standard settings are to install everything. That's because everyone's requirements are different, and it would be very confusing if beginners were told 'load package xxx' and found that it was not installed, but was in TeX Live.
You can install TeX Live directly on a Mac, rather than downloading MacTeX. The later is Mac-like installer, whereas if you use the raw TeX Live installer you need to use the Terminal and acept that it is a Unix application. However, there is a small TeX Live installer that will download the packages you decide to install as the installation runs, and so can keep down the amount of downloading.
This is really just a comment on Sharpie's answer, but I don't have the reputation to comment yet. If
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It depends how many macros you install. Basically TeXLive is almost the same with MacTex or much bigger.
If the main concern is size, you can start with the essential packages by using the download links here http://www.tug.org/mactex/2009/morepackages.html
I would suggest that you also download "TeX Live Utility.app". It is a great tool for beginners. You can automatically search/download/update packages when you need them later using this graphical tool.