I'm trying to convert Jupyter notebook to .pdf on Mac.

However, it tells me

nbconvert tailed: pdflatex not found on PATH

So, I went looking around and someone said, "Install mactex because this other way takes days to compile". So I did brew install Caskroom/cask/mactex and it finished without telling me there was a problem, but unfortunately it didn't install pdflatex that I can gather. And 'mac install pdflatex' doesn't bring anything useful up on Google for me maybe my bubble sucks.

How do I install pdflatex on my mac?


4 Answers 4


Install BasicTeX

To get pdflatex for Pandoc on macOS, install BasicTeX. Many people recommend MacTeX, which is a much bigger package than you need. BasicTex is produced by the same people who make MacTeX, but without, e.g., the GUI applications that make it so slow to download and install.

  1. $ brew install basictex
  2. Restart Terminal.
  3. Convert LaTeX to PDF.


Say you want to convert LaTex to PDF with Pandoc. You'd write:

  1. $ pandoc sourcefile.tex -o output.pdf, which fails with error pdflatex not found. Please select a different --pdf-engine or install pdflatex.
  2. So you install BasicTex, $ brew install basictex.
  3. Then restart your Terminal, and
  4. Run $ pandoc sourcefile.tex -o output.pdf again. Success!
  • 1
    Installing basictex this way did not seem to work for me for generating a PDF: $ pandoc a.tex -o b.pdf [WARNING] Unusual conversion: to convert a .tex file to PDF, you get better results by using pdflatex (or lualatex or xelatex) directly, try `pdflatex a.tex` instead of `pandoc a.tex -o b.pdf`. pdflatex not found. Please select a different --pdf-engine or install pdflatex Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 2:18
  • 2
    I get the same error as Taylor Edmiston. Additionally, pdflatex itself errors a lot of could not find *.sty and then doesn't generate a PDF at the end...
    – minseong
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 2:09
  • 3
    You may need to install some latex packages: sudo tlmgr update --self then sudo tlmgr install framed
    – hamx0r
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 22:59
  • Agree with the others. The answer lead me down a painful path. I have no idea why it's voted so high.
    – Gerry
    Commented Jul 2, 2021 at 19:55
  • What's the next step if this isn't relevant anymore? Are there some straightforward changes that I can make, or do I need to take the answer down?
    – Merchako
    Commented Jul 3, 2021 at 20:35

Yes, same story with my MacOS Sierra:

(1) installed mactex with homebrew cask, but no pdflatex found after that:

$ brew cask install mactex

$ which pdflatex

[no location]

(2) relaunched the terminal app

(3) pdflatex found:

$ which pdflatex


  • For me just cmd+t in iTerm helped.
    – mrgloom
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 11:34

It appears that brew does not, technically speaking, install mactex. It just downloads it.

I had to use the quick launch and type in mactex which popped up an installer.

After it finished I pdflatex existed, though I did have to start up a new shell - I'm assuming it did something to my path.

  • 3
    I just tried and installing the cask did install MacTeX. But I had to start a new shell instance for pdflatex to be recognisable. This is because installing MacTeX modifies your PATH by including /Library/TeX/texbin which is where the pdflatex binary lives.
    – Dennis
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 18:42
  • I ran brew cask install mactex but pdflatex didn't show up in /Library/TeX/texbin. Instead it was in /Library/Tex/Distributions/.DefaultTeX/Contents/Programs/x86_64/pdflatex.
    – ijt
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 5:01
  • 1
    Now, in 2022, I had to use brew install --cask mactex to install it. Commented May 15, 2022 at 13:53

Sometime later and working on a mac I also could not get pdflatex to produce a PDF. What worked for me was firstly realising that my TEX file was expecting to be compiled with xelatex and then finding a suitable Docker image, such as https://github.com/jpbernius/docker-xelatex

This doesn't answer the second part about installation, but may help someone who just needs a PDF.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .