So my MacBook Air broke down, and I plan to make use of the Macs in the university library to write papers. But the problem is: I do not have admin control there (so I cannot install anything) and LaTeX is not installed originally.

So I wonder if there is a way to put latex system & TexShop into a USB and use them on those Macs?

Final edit:

Thanks all for the advice. Succeeded installing a working TexLive system on my portable hard drive. But my story has a funny ending: It turns out that the university iMac does not run any software besides those already installed, nor can I use the Terminal or any advanced features. Well, I dig out my old notebook with Windows 7 and THE END : )

  • 3
    Not an answer, but maybe of interest: there are online options like sharelatex and writelatex (though I have never used them).
    – jon
    Nov 10, 2013 at 4:42
  • Thanks for the advice. I tried one such product (not the ones you mentioned, though), but it was really slow. But maybe these two are better, I'll try.
    – Lelouch
    Nov 10, 2013 at 4:51
  • It turns out the writelatex is the one I used...And I tried sharelatex, which is quite nice! Fast and easy to use. The only things to complain is no click&sync feature and no controal over the code font. But it's really a good solution!
    – Lelouch
    Nov 10, 2013 at 5:00

1 Answer 1


Try downloading install-tl-unx.tar.gz . Create a folder called texlive2013 inside your home directory and install TeX Live there. You could also install it on a portable hard drive or a large capacity memory stick, but in the latter case compiling may be painfully slow.

This worked on a linux machine on which I do not have admin privileges (it was necessary because it had a prehistoric TeX installation). I think it will work on a Mac as well. You will probably need to manually edit your login script so that the path environment variable makes latex, pdflatex etc. available from the terminal.

For an editor, try running emacs from the terminal; it may be installed already. If it doesn't work, you could try emacs -nw (which runs emacs in the terminal window itself). Failing that, there is always vi, or just edit your LaTeX files using TextEdit, or another text editor that is already installed.


On second thoughts, you can probably install an editor of your choice in your home directory or on a portable storage device. Most OS X applications don't care where they are installed.

  • Then from the unzipped root, just execute ./install-tl and a GUI will be displayed. Mercifully it allows you to change the target dir so that you don't crowd your /usr/bin with loads of junk. I even set the info and man files to be written to /tmp! Dec 22, 2020 at 4:55

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