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Sources for TeX Freeware
via Web Download or Anonymous FTP

Free implementations of TeX software can be obtained via Web link or anonymous FTP from a number of sites on the Internet. Such sources typically do not provide direct installation assistance. However, help is usually easy to obtain via public TeX web forums, and mailing lists exist for a number of these implementations; check the project home page for more information about the latter possibility.

Installation and use of free TeX software may require some technical expertise. The level depends on the distribution. Most packages are accompanied by relevant documentation; it is always a good idea to read this before undertaking an installation.

Distributions of free/shareware TeX software can also be obtained on DVD.

TeX Live / TeX Collection (DVD)

TeX Live provides a comprehensive cross-platform TeX system, with binaries supporting most Unix-like systems (including GNU/Linux and Mac OS X), and Windows.

The TeX Collection is delivered on DVD and consists of four components:

  • TeX Live;
  • MacTeX: an easy-to-install TeX system for Mac OS X, based on TeX Live, with a native Mac installer, the TeXShop front end, and additional Mac-specific tools;
  • proTeXt: an easy-to-install TeX system for Windows, based on MikTeX, with detailed documentation to guide your installation, and additional Windows-specific tools;
  • a strict subset of the free holdings of CTAN, the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network.

The Collection includes all major TeX-related programs, macro packages, and fonts that are free software, including support for many of the world's languages. An updated collection has been issued (almost) annually since 1996.

Compilation of the 2012 TeX Collection is expected to be completed in June 2012, and distribution to members of participating user groups will be accomplished by the end of the year.

A "quick install" recipe from the Web is available for Unix, Windows and MacTeX if you want to install everything.

The included installation manager (tlmgr) allows a user to update an existing installation with new material from CTAN as appropriate; for details, see section 5 of the user documentation. The 2011 Collection is available, and the 2012 Collection will soon be available on DVD from most of the participating groups for users who are not members of any of these groups.

The current TeX Live Guide (documentation for the TeX Live DVD) is also available online.
In English:

It is available in other languages as well.

Anyone wishing to volunteer assistance toward creating and testing the next edition should write to the TeX Live mailing list. Join the list to keep up with what's going on.

Platform-specific distributions and resources


See the MiKTeX project home page for more information.
proTeXt:   CTAN:systems/win32/protext
A MiKTeX-based distribution for Windows, proTeXt is the implementation included in the current TeX Collection.
proTeXt adds a few tools on top of MiKTeX:
W32TeX provides for small segmented downloads to allow a user to get just the pieces that are needed. Based on a Japanese implementation of TeX, it is directed mainly at users of a more technical bent who are already familiar with TeX systems, and are willing to give up a graphical interface and convenience for direct control.

Macintosh, for Mac OS X

MacTeX:   CTAN:systems/mac/mactex
This easy-to-install distribution is a complete TeX system which includes XeTeX and ConTeXt as well as the usual TeX/LaTeX facilities, with a simple GUI installer and a few extra applications (at present, TeXShop, LaTeXiT, BibDesk and Excalibur), as well as some additional documentation and applications which are not handled by the installer. MacTeX is included in the current TeX Collection.
TeXShop is an integrated system capable of using a variety of TeX engines, e.g., pdf(La)TeX, lua(La)TeX, Xe(La)TeX, etc. Developed by Richard Koch and others, it was first introduced at the 2001 annual meeting of the TeX Users Group. TeXShop can handle almost any encoding, so it should be of special interest to anyone producing documents in languages with heavily accented alphabets. TeXshop is free, released under the GPL.
TeXnicle:   NEW
TeXnicle is a "LaTeX editor and project organiser for Mac OS X with a feature-rich interface to help you manage your LaTeX projects." Although still in beta, TeXnicle is stable, and the developer is receptive to suggestions. TeXnicle is capable of using a variety of TeX engines, e.g., pdf(La)TeX, Lua(La)TeX, Xe(La)TeX, etc.; it can handle almost any encoding, so it should be of special interest to anyone producing documents in languages with heavily accented alphabets. "TeXnicle is free (as in beer) and will remain so."
MacOS X TeX/LaTeX Web Site
Originally created by Gary Gray at Penn State, now hosted by TUG and maintained by Joe Slater, this Web site contains pointers and links to TeX software and related utilities for Macintosh, both free and non-free (shareware and commercial), along with useful commentary. The site also hosts a mailing list for users of TeX on Mac OS X.

Unix (includes Linux, BSD, and others)

TeX Live is the recommended distribution for Unix users.
Some Unix system distributors, including Debian, Fedora and Ubuntu, also bundle TeX with their standard distributions. While these distributions are usually based on TeX Live, they may be a year or more behind, or may not contain the entire complement of packages from the canonical TeX Live collection.

TeX engines

All the engines listed here have been implemented on the three major platforms listed above: Unix, Windows, and Mac OS X.

pdfTeX is the now-"standard" TeX engine, included in all distributions including TeX Live and those listed by platform above. Despite its name, it is switch-selectable to produce .dvi files.
A mailing list for users is hosted by TUG.
XeTeX, by Jonathan Kew, is a merger of TeX with Unicode and system font technologies, enabling direct use of system fonts. XeTeX is available for all major platforms and is included in the TeX Live distribution.
A mailing list for XeTeX users is hosted by TUG.
A manual, The XeTeX Companion: TeX meets OpenType and Unicode, is under construction at CERN, under the editorship of Michel Goossens.
LuaTeX is an extended version of pdfTeX using Lua as an embedded scripting language. The LuaTeX project's main objective is to provide an open and configurable variant of TeX while at the same time offering downward compatibility.
The latest stable release is included in TeX Live, and the project regularly posts beta versions as they become available. LuaTeX is the engine on which ConTeXt MkIV is based, and binaries for many platforms can be obtained from the site.
A mailing list for users is hosted by TUG.

Some additional (free) implementations and extensions are listed by TUG.

Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN)

CTAN comprises a set of servers worldwide that make TeX software publicly available.
Use the CTAN search facility, implemented by Jim Hefferon, to look for the name of a file you need, or search Graham Williams' TeX Catalogue Online by keyword.
The TeX Catalogue contains concise descriptions of TeX and LaTeX tools and packages, mostly available from CTAN, and includes additional links to many informative Web pages and authors' home sites.
The search screen also contains pointers to other information sources.
For site information, check the list of hosts and mirrors. Please choose a mirror site near you for best service.
A list of the current CTAN holdings is available in the root directory at any CTAN site, in the file FILES.byname (this file is large -- more than 10Mb).

Other TeX-related software

(La)TeX front ends

  • LyX is a structured WYSIWYG-like document processor which uses LaTeX as a back end.
    Runs on Unix, Mac OS X and Windows systems.
  • Online LaTeX Editor ( is a site at which you can create and manage your LaTeX projects and generate .pdf files online.
    Up to four projects may be active concurrently for free.

Browser adapters

techexplorer Hypermedia Browser, from Integre Technical Publishing Co., allows your browser to display TeX, LaTeX and MathML markup.

Converters: TeX to/from Word processors

A FAQ list of free and shareware converters for various systems has been compiled by Wilfried Hennings.