Trying to compile a MWE using VSCode (latex, latex workshop, and utilities all installed) using TeXlive. The compiler only shows the following and stalls, I've let it run for hours without progress:

**This is pdfTeX, Version 3.141592653-2.6-1.40.24 (TeX Live 2022) (preloaded format=pdflatex)
 restricted \write18 enabled.

Other useful info - this is on a Windows system (runs fine on a mac). The build recipe I'm using only calls pdflatex. Under the tools option I have:

            "name": "pdflatex",
            "command": "pdflatex",
            "args": [
            "env": {}

and under recipes:

            "name": "pdflatex",
            "tools": [

I've also tried the default pdflatex, bibtex, pdflatex x2 to no success.

From powershell, it works fine:

pdflatex --shell-escape -synctex=1 -interaction=nonstopmode -file-line-error simple.tex
This is pdfTeX, Version 3.141592653-2.6-1.40.24 (TeX Live 2022) (preloaded format=pdflatex)
 \write18 enabled.
entering extended mode
LaTeX2e <2022-06-01> patch level 5
L3 programming layer <2022-08-30>
Document Class: article 2021/10/04 v1.4n Standard LaTeX document class
(./simple.aux) [1{c:/texlive/2022/texmf-var/fonts/map/pdftex/updmap/pdftex.map}
] (./simple.aux) )<c:/texlive/2022/texmf-dist/fonts/type1/public/amsfonts/cm/cm
Output written on simple.pdf (1 page, 12749 bytes).
SyncTeX written on simple.synctex.gz.

Transcript written on simple.log.

And for reference, the MWE is just:

  Hello World!

Any ideas on why it might be hanging only in the VSCode compiler?

  • Try without "--shell-escape".
    – vi pa
    Sep 6 at 15:15
  • @vipa Unfortunately same behavior with or without --shell-escape Sep 6 at 17:32
  • Seem that pdflatex can't find the file to compile specifies by VSCode through "%DOC%". Try without "%DOC%".
    – vi pa
    Sep 6 at 20:33
  • It does seem you're right that it isn't finding the file to compile. However, removing %DOC% doesn't seem to work. I also tried %DOC_W32%.tex, and %DOC_EXT_W32% as an option following this but no luck so far. Sep 7 at 0:21

1 Answer 1


Ultimately I discovered had defined

"latex-workshop.latex.external.build.command": "pdflatex"

Which low and behold states in the documentation:

This is useful when compiling relies on a Makefile or a bespoke script. When defined, it completely bypasses the recipes and root file detection mechanism.

Overriding all the build commands that I had mentioned above. Clearing that and rerunning made everything work perfectly.

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