This is a new problem, which I did not have a week ago. I think it is due to me updating TeXShop, but I am not completely sure. My problem is that any file with biber as the backend for BibLaTeX does not compile anymore. Changing the backend to BibTeX resolves the problem.

MWE main document:

% !TEX TS-program = luaLaTeXmk
% !BIB program = biber







    author = {Someone, Firstname},
    title = {{Title}},
    journal = {Journal},
    volume = {1},
    year = {2020},
    pages = {1},

Running biber on this freezes, and when I use biber in a larger script (my own preference is LuaLaTeXmk), I get an unspecified error.

The code runs without any problem in Overleaf, and it also runs in TeXShop with biber changed to BibTeX.


Corrected the MWE to coincide with the file I tested on.

After further testing, on the next day, the problem seems to have partially disappeared: I do not get errors anymore, also not on my original file, which I have not modified. Mysterious.

However, LuaLaTeXmk seems to be broken, as typesetting the MWE only runs LaTeX once, and does not compile as often as necessary. TeXShop 4.50 has updated LaTeXmk to 4.70b, but pdfLaTeXmk does still run correctly, so something is still wrong. Also, this seems to now be independent of using biber or BibTeX.

Edit 2:

Turns out that in my attempts to fix the problem, I deleted the LuaLaTeXmk engine, so of course it would not work. I restored it from the Inactive folder, and all is right again. Still not certain what caused my problem yesterday, but by now everything works again.

1 Answer 1


First, how are you typesetting the document?

Now fix the problem, it should be


and then there should be no problem if you use the (pdf/xe/lua)latexmk engine. If you are typesetting and running biber separately use the TeXShop directive

 % !BIB program = biber

at the top of the file to tell TeXShop to use biber instead of bibtex.

  • You are right, I made a mistake in the code here (though not in TeXShop). I generally add the lines % !TEX TS-program = luaLaTeXmk % !BIB program = biber in front of my file, will edit my question to reflect this. So the problem is not due to these mistakes. Nov 18, 2020 at 10:04

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