If you’ve recently upgraded to OS X El Capitan, and you’re getting an error message when trying to compile TeX, the reason is most likely due to one of the new features in OS X El Capitan called System Integrity Protection.

When I upgraded to Mac OS X El Capitan, all non-native items once installed in /usr, including my simlink to my texbin directory, were wiped out. This caused an error message when I tried to compile a latex document:

Can’t find required tool.

/usr/texbin/simpdftex does not exist. TeXShop is a front end for TeX, but you also need a TeX distribution. Perhaps such a distribution was not installed or was removed during a system upgrade. If so, go to http://tug.org/MacTeX and follow the instructions to (re)install MacTeX. A less likely possibility is that a tool path is incorrectly configured in TeXShop preferences. This can happen if you are using the macports or fink distributions.

My TeX editor of choice is TeXShop, but I imagine this error occurs with other TeX editors in OS X. The following solution should work independent of the TeX editor.

When I tried to recreate the symbolic link, I received the following error message:

sudo ln -s /usr/local/texlive/2014/bin/x86_64-darwin texbin
ln: texbin: Operation not permitted

Looking into the documentation, to recreate a symbolic link in the /usr directory, SIP needs to be disabled. To do so, carry out the following steps:

  1. Reboot in “Recovery Mode” by restarting and holding down Command+R
  2. Click Utilities -> Terminal
  3. type csrutil disable and press Enter
  4. Restart

Once your computer has restarted, you can check if the operation was successful by typing csrutil status at the command line. If all went well, you should see the following:

$csrutil status
System Integrity Protection status: disabled

Next, recreate the symbolic link to the texbin directory:

sudo ln -s /usr/local/texlive/2014/bin/x86_64-darwin texbin

Once I did this, I could recompile TeX documents using TeXShop just fine!