I've installed texlive2022 freshly on a new mac (Ventura) via homebrew. Now sudo tlmgr update --self doesn't work. How do you set it up?

First, following tlmgr: action not allowed in system mode: ... (texlive) I've added options,update to /opt/homebrew/Cellar/texlive/20220321_4/share/texmf-config/tlmgr/config.

Then, sudo tlmgr update --self gives

tlmgr: package repository /opt/homebrew/Cellar/texlive/20220321_4/share (not verified: unknown)
tlmgr: backupdir as set in tlpdb
is not a directory.
tlmgr: An error has occurred. See above messages. Exiting.

This strongly suggests that this is not how the user should manage texlive.

This is the fourth mac I use texlive on, but I've never had this problem. But I don't remember what I did for the three macs for tlmgr update to work.

Edit: In response to the comments below, I try to explain what tlmgr is as I understand it. texlive itself can be installed via a popular package manager called homebrew. On the other hand, texlive consists of a huge number of packages. What if you want to use the latest version of a package included in texlive? You use tlmgr update. It fetches latest versions of the packages from CTAN and install them. In this way, tlmgr keeps texlive up to date. This used to work, until I tried to do the same on my fourth mac.

  • 5
    I would always use the vanilla texlive version from texlive.org (or maybe MacTeX if you need any of the additional software) instead the versions packaged by various repositories. Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 14:52
  • 4
    this is presumably same as linux, if you install from the system repository say with apt for debian, then manage it through the same system package manager such as apt Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 15:57
  • @David Carlisle "then manage it through the same system package manager such as apt" . . . I'm sorry I don't understand. I installed texlive via the most popular package manager on mac. But, it doesn't have the capability of updating CTAN packages. On the other hand, tlmgr keeps updating texlive downloading updates from CTAN. apt and tlmgr are totally different. (I used to use Debian.) Or, do you mean you can get updates of each CTAN package via apt? Suppose hyperref gets a minor update. What do you do?
    – Ryo
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 14:33
  • @samcarter_is_at_topanswers.xyz "I would always use the vanilla texlive version from texlive.org . . .instead the versions packaged by various repositories." --- I do use the vanilla texlive. tlmgr keeps updating texlive from CTAN, not "various repositories".
    – Ryo
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 14:40
  • 1
    @Ryo Why don't you try the version from tug.org or MacTeX? It is usually a very smooth install and does create all the necessary folders automatically instead of leaving you to figure out on your own which folder should have been created. Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 14:51

1 Answer 1


I asked at the homebrew forum and learned that the use of tlmgr is blocked.

As @samcarter_is_at_topanswers.xyz suggests in her/his comment above, we should download the MacTex package from its homepage instead of installing it via homebrew.

As you can see here


the maintainer of the texlive formula (homebrew package) expressly blocks the user from using tlmgr.

Footnote: If you are a Mac user, there is no advantage for using the homebrew version of texlive except for the ease of installation. If the ease of installation isn't important to you, the only raison d'être of the homebrew version is for it to be depended upon by other packages ("formulae" in the homebrew parlance). That is, if you install a homebrew package that depends on texlive, the latter is automatically installed as a dependency.

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