I'm trying to learn how to install packages in LaTeX. I've downloaded the TeX Live Utility in order to have a GUI (I'm using a Mac) and I've installed it, but I don't know how to run the application and I don't find the answer anywhere.

Newbie here TT.

  • Well... Run "Tex Live Utility". Usually that's done by double clicking on it. But I'm not sure what's the problem here.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 19:06
  • Did you install MacTex?
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 19:08
  • Can't you find it with Spotlight? Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 19:09

2 Answers 2


To to a large extent, once you have downloaded MacTeX itself you will not need to install any packages except to keep your distribution up-to-date, and for this you use TeX Live Utility.

What TeX Live Utility is for

TeX Live Utility is not a general purpose package installer, but a tool to manage an existing TeX Live distribution (in your case, MacTeX). It provides a graphical user interface to a subset of the functions that the command line tlmgr can perform. Specifically, it can do the following things:

  • Update your existing packages to the latest versions on CTAN.
  • Install any new packages that have appeared on CTAN since the last update.
  • Change the global paper size for your distribution.

Basic use is really simple: open the application (if you have installed MacTeX it will be found in the TeX folder inside your Applications folder). When you do this you should see a window that looks like this: (the URL field in your window will be different from this one.)

update window

From here, you should usually choose Update All Packages from the Actions menu. You should do this immediately upon installing MacTeX for the first time, and then periodically thereafter.

Items in blue are new packages that don't yet exist in your distribution. Items in black are existing packages with updates available.

If you don't want to update or install everything, you can select particular items from the list with the mouse and then choose Update Selected Packages. (Unless you know what you're doing, this is usually not the best option.)

Since MacTeX is installed using administrator permissions, you will also need to authenticate using an administrator account to update your distribution with TeX Live Utility.


Sometimes you will see the following message:

updates needed

and the installer itself will update first.

One other thing to understand is that TeXLive operates on a yearly distribution system, and by default the TL Utility will only update the current year's distribution. For example, since TL 2015 has been released, but I have not yet installed it, I can no longer run TL Utility in its default mode, and receive the following message:

wrong year message

What TeX Live Utility is *not* for

  • So, when Tex Live updates to the new year, we have to reinstall using the new version?
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 19:20
  • @Alenanno Well the application itself will update itself independently over the course of a year, so you don't really need to reinstall anything. But once a new year of TL exists, TL Utility will only see that year's repository, and therefore will no longer be able to update a previous year.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 19:23
  • 1
    @Alenanno Yes. TeX Live is set up that way, you cannot upgrade. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 19:31
  • 1
    Good description by @AlanMunn. However, please note that TeX Live Utility a) finally has a home page again, which describes basic features, and b) it has fairly complete documentation via its Help menu. These are the canonical references on features, and I try to keep them updated. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 0:15
  • 1
    @AlanMunn It's actually been up since before TL 2015 was released; I had a frantic effort to try and move the content from my old googlecode pages, after several months of them being unavailable. Unfortunately, the link is really easy to miss on the GitHub project page, and I just noticed the readme link is old. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 0:24

enter image description hereSorry for my english is no so good, i have mac too, wen i need installed someone package that is not in CTAN , for example flexbib, i must go in the /usr/local, here texlive, 2015 , texmfdist, and this such the folder wen you must place the package. Other option is place the file directly in the folder wen you save your tex work.


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