tlmgr - the native TeX Live Manager


tlmgr [option...] action [option...] [operand...]


tlmgr manages an existing TeX Live installation, both packages and configuration options. For information on initially downloading and installing TeX Live, see

The most up-to-date version of this documentation (updated nightly from the development sources) is available at, along with procedures for updating tlmgr itself and information about test versions.

TeX Live is organized into a few top-level schemes, each of which is specified as a different set of collections and packages, where a collection is a set of packages, and a package is what contains actual files. Schemes typically contain a mix of collections and packages, but each package is included in exactly one collection, no more and no less. A TeX Live installation can be customized and managed at any level.

See for all the TeX Live documentation available.


After successfully installing TeX Live, here are a few common operations with tlmgr:

tlmgr option repository ctan
tlmgr option repository

Tell tlmgr to use a nearby CTAN mirror for future updates; useful if you installed TeX Live from the DVD image and want to have continuing updates. The two commands are equivalent; ctan is just an alias for the given url.

Caveat: resolves to many different hosts, and they are not perfectly synchronized; we recommend updating only daily (at most), and not more often. You can choose a particular mirror if problems; the list of all CTAN mirrors with the status of each is at

tlmgr update --list

Report what would be updated without actually updating anything.

tlmgr update --all

Make your local TeX installation correspond to what is in the package repository (typically useful when updating from CTAN).

tlmgr info what

Display detailed information about a package what, such as the installation status and description, of searches for what in all packages.

tlmgr bug what

Display available bug-reporting information for what, a package or file name.

For all the capabilities and details of tlmgr, please read the following voluminous information.


The following options to tlmgr are global options, not specific to any action. All options, whether global or action-specific, can be given anywhere on the command line, and in any order. The first non-option argument will be the main action. In all cases, --option and -option are equivalent, and an = is optional between an option name and its value.

--repository url|path

Specify the package repository from which packages should be installed or updated, either a local directory or network location, as below. This overridesthe default package repository found in the installation's TeX Live Package Database (a.k.a. the TLPDB, which is given entirely in the file tlpkg/texlive.tlpdb).

This --repository option changes the location only for the current run; to make a permanent change, use option repository (see the "option" action).

As an example, you can choose a particular CTAN mirror with something like this:


Of course a real hostname and its particular top-level CTAN directory have to be specified. The list of CTAN mirrors is available at

Here's an example of using a local directory:

-repository /local/TL/repository

For backward compatibility and convenience, --location and --repo are accepted as aliases for this option.

Locations can be specified as any of the following:


Equivalent ways of specifying a local directory.


Pick a CTAN mirror automatically, trying for one that is both nearby and up-to-date. The chosen mirror is used for the entire download. The bare ctan is merely an alias for the full url. (See for more about CTAN and its mirrors.)


Standard HTTP. If the (default) LWP method is used, persistent connections are supported. TL can also use curl or wget to do the downloads, or an arbitrary user-specified program, as described in the tlmgr documentation (


Again, if the (default) LWP method is used, this supports persistent connections. Unfortunately, some versions of wget and curl do not support https, and even when wget supports https, certificates may be rejected even when the certificate is fine, due to a lack of local certificate roots. The simplest workaround for this problem is to use http or ftp.


If the (default) LWP method is used, persistent connections are supported.


These forms are equivalent; they all use scp to transfer files. Using ssh-agent is recommended. (Info:,

If the repository is on the network, trailing / characters and/or trailing /tlpkg and/or /archive components are ignored.

--gui [action]

Two notable GUI front-ends for tlmgr, tlshell and tlcockpit, are started up as separate programs; see their own documentation.

tlmgr itself has a graphical interface as well as the command line interface. You can give the option to invoke it, --gui, together with an action to be brought directly into the respective screen of the GUI. For example, running

tlmgr --gui update

starts you directly at the update screen. If no action is given, the GUI will be started at the main screen. See "GUI FOR TLMGR".

However, the native GUI requires Perl/TK, which is no longer included in TeX Live's Perl distribution for Windows. You may find tlshell or tlcockpit easier to work with.

--gui-lang llcode

By default, the GUI tries to deduce your language from the environment (on Windows via the registry, on Unix via LC_MESSAGES). If that fails you can select a different language by giving this option with a language code (based on ISO 639-1). Currently supported (but not necessarily completely translated) are: English (en, default), Czech (cs), German (de), French (fr), Italian (it), Japanese (ja), Dutch (nl), Polish (pl), Brazilian Portuguese (pt_BR), Russian (ru), Slovak (sk), Slovenian (sl), Serbian (sr), Ukrainian (uk), Vietnamese (vi), simplified Chinese (zh_CN), and traditional Chinese (zh_TW).

tlshell shares its message catalog with tlmgr.

--command-logfile file

tlmgr logs the output of all programs invoked (mktexlr, mtxrun, fmtutil, updmap) to a separate log file, by default TEXMFSYSVAR/web2c/tlmgr-commands.log. This option allows you to specify a different file for the log.


In GUI mode, this switch tells tlmgr to report any untranslated (or missing) messages to standard error. This can help translators to see what remains to be done.


Instead of the normal output intended for human consumption, write (to standard output) a fixed format more suitable for machine parsing. See the "MACHINE-READABLE OUTPUT" section below.


Suppress the execution of the execute actions as defined in the tlpsrc files. Documented only for completeness, as this is only useful in debugging.

--package-logfile file

tlmgr logs all package actions (install, remove, update, failed updates, failed restores) to a separate log file, by default TEXMFSYSVAR/web2c/tlmgr.log. This option allows you to specify a different file for the log.


This option makes tlmgr wait for user input before exiting. Useful on Windows to avoid disappearing command windows.


For network-based installations, this option (on by default) makes tlmgr try to set up a persistent connection (using the LWP Perl module). The idea is to open and reuse only one connection per session between your computer and the server, instead of initiating a new download for each package.

If this is not possible, tlmgr will fall back to using wget. To disable these persistent connections, use --no-persistent-downloads.


Change the pinning file location from TEXMFLOCAL/tlpkg/pinning.txt (see "Pinning" below). Documented only for completeness, as this is only useful in debugging.


Activates user mode for this run of tlmgr; see "USER MODE" below.

--usertree dir

Uses dir for the tree in user mode; see "USER MODE" below.


Defines the level of verification done: If none is specified, no verification whatsoever is done. If main is given and a working GnuPG (gpg) binary is available, all repositories are checked, but only the main repository is required to be signed. If all is given, then all repositories need to be signed. See "CRYPTOGRAPHIC VERIFICATION" below for details.

The standard options for TeX Live programs are also accepted: --help/-h/-?, --version, -q (no informational messages), -v (debugging messages, can be repeated). For the details about these, see the TeXLive::TLUtils documentation.

The --version option shows version information about the TeX Live release and about the tlmgr script itself. If -v is also given, revision number for the loaded TeX Live Perl modules are shown, too.



Display this help information and exit (same as --help, and on the web at Sometimes the perldoc and/or PAGER programs on the system have problems, resulting in control characters being literally output. This can't always be detected, but you can set the NOPERLDOC environment variable and perldoc will not be used.


Gives version information (same as --version).

If -v has been given the revisions of the used modules are reported, too.


backup [option...] --all
backup [option...] pkg...

If the --clean option is not specified, this action makes a backup of the given packages, or all packages given --all. These backups are saved to the value of the --backupdir option, if that is an existing and writable directory. If --backupdir is not given, the backupdir option setting in the TLPDB is used, if present. If both are missing, no backups are made. (The installer sets backupdir to .../tlpkg/backups, under the TL root installation directory, so it is usually defined; see the "option" description for more information.)

If the --clean option is specified, backups are pruned (removed) instead of saved. The optional integer value N may be specified to set the number of backups that will be retained when cleaning. If N is not given, the value of the autobackup option is used. If both are missing, an error is issued. For more details of backup pruning, see the option action.


--backupdir directory

Overrides the backupdir option setting in the TLPDB. The directory argument is required and must specify an existing, writable directory where backups are to be placed.


If --clean is not specified, make a backup of all packages in the TeX Live installation; this will take quite a lot of space and time. If --clean is specified, all packages are pruned.


Instead of making backups, prune the backup directory of old backups, as explained above. The optional integer argument N overrides the autobackup option set in the TLPDB. You must use --all or a list of packages together with this option, as desired.


Nothing is actually backed up or removed; instead, the actions to be performed are written to the terminal.

bug [search-string]

Searches for search-string (prompted for, if not given) as a package name and in package descriptions, as complete words, and in filenames, as any substring, and outputs bug-reporting and other information for the package selected from the results.

The search is equivalent to tlmgr search --word --file search-string. Thus, search-string is interpreted as a (Perl) regular expression.

candidates pkg

Shows the available candidate repositories for package pkg. See "MULTIPLE REPOSITORIES" below.

check [option...] [depends|executes|files|runfiles|texmfdbs|all]

Execute one (or all) check(s) of the consistency of the installation. If no problems are found, there will be no output. (To get a view of what is being done, run tlmgr -v check.)


Lists those packages which occur as dependencies in an installed collection, but are themselves not installed, and those packages which are not contained in any collection.

If you call tlmgr check collections this test will be carried out instead since former versions for tlmgr called it that way.


Check that the files referred to by execute directives in the TeX Live Database are present.


Checks that all files listed in the local TLPDB (texlive.tlpdb) are actually present, and lists those missing.


List those filenames that are occurring more than one time in the runfiles sections, except for known duplicates.


Checks related to the ls-R files. If you have defined new trees, or changed the TEXMF or TEXMFDBS variables, it can't hurt to run this. It checks that:

- all items in TEXMFDBS have the !! prefix.
- all items in TEXMFBDS have an ls-R file (if they exist at all).
- all items in TEXMF with !! are listed in TEXMFDBS.
- all items in TEXMF with an ls-R file are listed in TEXMFDBS.



Use the output of svn status instead of listing the files; for checking the TL development repository. (This is run nightly.)


conf [texmf|tlmgr|updmap [--conffile file] [--delete] [key [value]]]
conf auxtrees [--conffile file] [show|add|remove] [value]

With only conf, show general configuration information for TeX Live, including active configuration files, path settings, and more. This is like running texconfig conf, but works on all supported platforms.

With one of conf texmf, conf tlmgr, or conf updmap, shows all key/value pairs (i.e., all settings) as saved in ROOT/texmf.cnf, the user-specific tlmgr configuration file (see below), or the first found (via kpsewhich) updmap.cfg file, respectively.

If key is given in addition, shows the value of only that key in the respective file. If option --delete is also given, the value in the given configuration file is entirely removed (not just commented out).

If value is given in addition, key is set to value in the respective file. No error checking is done!

The PATH value shown by conf is as used by tlmgr. The directory in which the tlmgr executable is found is automatically prepended to the PATH value inherited from the environment.

Here is a practical example of changing configuration values. If the execution of (some or all) system commands via \write18 was left enabled during installation, you can disable it afterwards:

tlmgr conf texmf shell_escape 0

The subcommand auxtrees allows adding and removing arbitrary additional texmf trees, completely under user control. auxtrees show shows the list of additional trees, auxtrees add tree adds a tree to the list, and auxtrees remove tree removes a tree from the list (if present). The trees should not contain an ls-R file (or files will not be found if the ls-R becomes stale). This works by manipulating the Kpathsea variable TEXMFAUXTREES, in (by default) ROOT/texmf.cnf. Example:

tlmgr conf auxtrees add /quick/test/tree
tlmgr conf auxtrees remove /quick/test/tree

In all cases the configuration file can be explicitly specified via the option --conffile file, e.g., if you don't want to change the system-wide configuration.

Warning: The general facility for changing configuration values is here, but tinkering with settings in this way is strongly discouraged. Again, no error checking on either keys or values is done, so any sort of breakage is possible.

dump-tlpdb [option...] [--json]

Dump complete local or remote TLPDB to standard output, as-is. The output is analogous to the --machine-readable output; see "MACHINE-READABLE OUTPUT" section.



Dump the local TLPDB.


Dump the remote TLPDB.


Instead of dumping the actual content, the database is dumped as JSON. For the format of JSON output see tlpkg/doc/json-formats.txt, format definition TLPDB.

Exactly one of --local and --remote must be given.

In either case, the first line of the output specifies the repository location, in this format:

"location-url" "\t" location

where location-url is the literal field name, followed by a tab, and location is the file or url to the repository.

Line endings may be either LF or CRLF depending on the current platform.


generate [option...] language
generate [option...] language.dat
generate [option...] language.def
generate [option...] language.dat.lua

The generate action overwrites any manual changes made in the respective files: it recreates them from scratch based on the information of the installed packages, plus local adaptions. The TeX Live installer and tlmgr routinely call generate for all of these files.

For managing your own fonts, please read the updmap --help information and/or

For managing your own formats, please read the fmtutil --help information.

In more detail: generate remakes any of the configuration files language.dat, language.def, and language.dat.lua from the information present in the local TLPDB, plus locally-maintained files.

The locally-maintained files are language-local.dat, language-local.def, or language-local.dat.lua, searched for in TEXMFLOCAL in the respective directories. If local additions are present, the final file is made by starting with the main file, omitting any entries that the local file specifies to be disabled, and finally appending the local file.

(Historical note: The formerly supported updmap-local.cfg and fmtutil-local.cnf are no longer read, since updmap and fmtutil now reads and supports multiple configuration files. Thus, local additions can and should be put into an updmap.cfg of fmtutil.cnf file in TEXMFLOCAL. The generate updmap and generate fmtutil actions no longer exist.)

Local files specify entries to be disabled with a comment line, namely one of these:


where language.dat and language.def use %, and language.dat.lua use --. In all cases, the name is the respective format name or hyphenation pattern identifier. Examples:


(Of course, you're not likely to actually want to disable those particular items. They're just examples.)

After such a disabling line, the local file can include another entry for the same item, if a different definition is desired. In general, except for the special disabling lines, the local files follow the same syntax as the master files.

The form generate language recreates all three files language.dat, language.def, and language.dat.lua, while the forms with an extension recreates only that given language file.


--dest output_file

specifies the output file (defaults to the respective location in TEXMFSYSVAR). If --dest is given to generate language, it serves as a basename onto which .dat will be appended for the name of the language.dat output file, .def will be appended to the value for the name of the language.def output file, and .dat.lua to the name of the language.dat.lua file. (This is just to avoid overwriting; if you want a specific name for each output file, we recommend invoking tlmgr twice.)

--localcfg local_conf_file

specifies the (optional) local additions (defaults to the respective location in TEXMFLOCAL).


tells tlmgr to run necessary programs after config files have been regenerated. These are: fmtutil-sys --all after generate fmtutil, fmtutil-sys --byhyphen .../language.dat after generate language.dat, and fmtutil-sys --byhyphen .../language.def after generate language.def.

These subsequent calls cause the newly-generated files to actually take effect. This is not done by default since those calls are lengthy processes and one might want to made several related changes in succession before invoking these programs.

The respective locations are as follows:

tex/generic/config/language.dat (and language-local.dat)
tex/generic/config/language.def (and language-local.def)
tex/generic/config/language.dat.lua (and language-local.dat.lua)


Start the graphical user interface. See GUI below.


info [option...] pkg...
info [option...] collections
info [option...] schemes

With no argument, lists all packages available at the package repository, prefixing those already installed with i.

With the single word collections or schemes as the argument, lists the request type instead of all packages.

With any other arguments, display information about pkg: the name, category, short and long description, sizes, installation status, and TeX Live revision number. If pkg is not locally installed, searches in the remote installation source.

For normal packages (not collections or schemes), the sizes of the four groups of files (run/src/doc/bin files) are shown separately. For collections, the cumulative size is shown, including all directly-dependent packages (but not dependent collections). For schemes, the cumulative size is also shown, including all directly-dependent collections and packages.

If pkg is not found locally or remotely, the search action is used and lists matching packages and files.

It also displays information taken from the TeX Catalogue, namely the package version, date, and license. Consider these, especially the package version, as approximations only, due to timing skew of the updates of the different pieces. By contrast, the revision value comes directly from TL and is reliable.

The former actions show and list are merged into this action, but are still supported for backward compatibility.



If the option --list is given with a package, the list of contained files is also shown, including those for platform-specific dependencies. When given with schemes and collections, --list outputs their dependencies in a similar way.


If this option is given, the installation source will not be used; only locally installed packages, collections, or schemes are listed.


Only list packages from the remote repository. Useful when checking what is available in a remote repository using tlmgr --repo ... --only-remote info. Note that --only-installed and --only-remote cannot both be specified.

--data item1,item2,...

If the option --data is given, its argument must be a comma or colon separated list of field names from: name, category, localrev, remoterev, shortdesc, longdesc, installed, size, relocatable, depends, cat-version, cat-date, cat-license, plus various cat-contact-* fields (see below).

The cat-* fields all come from the TeX Catalogue ( For each, there are two more variants with prefix l and r, e.g., lcat-version and rcat-version, which indicate the local and remote information, respectively. The variants without l and r show the most current one, which is normally the remote value.

The requested packages' information is listed in CSV format, one package per line, and the column information is given by the itemN. The depends column contains the names of all the dependencies separated by : characters.

At this writing, the cat-contact-* fields include: home, repository, support, bugs, announce, development. Each may be empty or a url value. A brief description is on the CTAN upload page for new packages:


If --json is specified, the output is a JSON encoded array where each array element is the JSON representation of a single TLPOBJ but with additional information. For details see tlpkg/doc/json-formats.txt, format definition: TLPOBJINFO. If both --json and --data are given, --json takes precedence.


Sets up a texmf tree for so-called user mode management, either the default user tree (TEXMFHOME), or one specified on the command line with --usertree. See "USER MODE" below.

install [option...] pkg...

Install each pkg given on the command line, if it is not already installed. It does not touch existing packages; see the update action for how to get the latest version of a package.

By default this also installs all packages on which the given pkgs are dependent. Options:


Nothing is actually installed; instead, the actions to be performed are written to the terminal.


Instead of fetching a package from the installation repository, use the package files given on the command line. These files must be standard TeX Live package files (with contained tlpobj file).


If updates to tlmgr itself (or other parts of the basic infrastructure) are present, tlmgr will bail out and not perform the installation unless this option is given. Not recommended.


Do not install dependencies. (By default, installing a package ensures that all dependencies of this package are fulfilled.)


Normally, when you install a package which ships binary files the respective binary package will also be installed. That is, for a package foo, the package foo.i386-linux will also be installed on an i386-linux system. This option suppresses this behavior, and also implies --no-depends. Don't use it unless you are sure of what you are doing.


Reinstall a package (including dependencies for collections) even if it already seems to be installed (i.e, is present in the TLPDB). This is useful to recover from accidental removal of files in the hierarchy.

When re-installing, only dependencies on normal packages are followed (i.e., not those of category Scheme or Collection).


While not recommended, the install-tl program provides an option to omit installation of all documentation and/or source files. (By default, everything is installed.) After such an installation, you may find that you want the documentation or source files for a given package after all. You can get them by using these options in conjunction with --reinstall, as in (using the fontspec package as the example):

tlmgr install --reinstall --with-doc --with-src fontspec

This action does not automatically add new symlinks in system directories; you need to run tlmgr path add ("path") yourself if you are using this feature and want new symlinks added.


key list
key add file
key remove keyid

The action key allows listing, adding and removing additional GPG keys to the set of trusted keys, that is, those that are used to verify the TeX Live databases.

With the list argument, key lists all keys.

The add argument requires another argument, either a filename or - for stdin, from which the key is added. The key is added to the local keyring GNUPGHOME/repository-keys.gpg, which is normally tlpkg/gpg/repository-keys.gpg.

The remove argument requires a key id and removes the requested id from the local keyring.


Synonym for "info".


option [--json] [show]
option [--json] showall|help
option key [value]

The first form, show, shows the global TeX Live settings currently saved in the TLPDB with a short description and the key used for changing it in parentheses.

The second form, showall, is similar, but also shows options which can be defined but are not currently set to any value (help is a synonym).

Both show... forms take an option --json, which dumps the option information in JSON format. In this case, both forms dump the same data. For the format of the JSON output see tlpkg/doc/json-formats.txt, format definition TLOPTION.

In the third form, with key, if value is not given, the setting for key is displayed. If value is present, key is set to value.

Possible values for key are (run tlmgr option showall for the definitive list):

repository (default package repository),
formats    (generate formats at installation or update time),
postcode   (run postinst code blobs)
docfiles   (install documentation files),
srcfiles   (install source files),
backupdir  (default directory for backups),
autobackup (number of backups to keep).
sys_bin    (directory to which executables are linked by the path action)
sys_man    (directory to which man pages are linked by the path action)
sys_info   (directory to which Info files are linked by the path action)
desktop_integration (Windows-only: create Start menu shortcuts)
fileassocs (Windows-only: change file associations)
multiuser  (Windows-only: install for all users)

One common use of option is to permanently change the installation to get further updates from the Internet, after originally installing from DVD. To do this, you can run

tlmgr option repository

The install-tl documentation has more information about the possible values for repository. (For backward compatibility, location can be used as a synonym for repository.)

If formats is set (this is the default), then formats are regenerated when either the engine or the format files have changed. Disable this only when you know how and want to regenerate formats yourself whenever needed (which is often, in practice).

The postcode option controls execution of per-package postinstallation action code. It is set by default, and again disabling is not likely to be of interest except to developers doing debugging.

The docfiles and srcfiles options control the installation of their respective file groups (documentation, sources; grouping is approximate) per package. By default both are enabled (1). Either or both can be disabled (set to 0) if disk space is limited or for minimal testing installations, etc. When disabled, the respective files are not downloaded at all.

The options autobackup and backupdir determine the defaults for the actions update, backup and restore. These three actions need a directory in which to read or write the backups. If --backupdir is not specified on the command line, the backupdir option value is used (if set). The TL installer sets backupdir to .../tlpkg/backups, under the TL root installation directory.

The autobackup option (de)activates automatic generation of backups. Its value is an integer. If the autobackup value is -1, no backups are removed. If autobackup is 0 or more, it specifies the number of backups to keep. Thus, backups are disabled if the value is 0. In the --clean mode of the backup action this option also specifies the number to be kept. The default value is 1, so that backups are made, but only one backup is kept.

To setup autobackup to -1 on the command line, use:

tlmgr option -- autobackup -1

The -- avoids having the -1 treated as an option. (The -- stops parsing for options at the point where it appears; this is a general feature across most Unix programs.)

The sys_bin, sys_man, and sys_info options are used on Unix systems to control the generation of links for executables, Info files and man pages. See the path action for details.

The last three options affect behavior on Windows installations. If desktop_integration is set, then some packages will install items in a sub-folder of the Start menu for tlmgr gui, documentation, etc. If fileassocs is set, Windows file associations are made (see also the postaction action). Finally, if multiuser is set, then adaptions to the registry and the menus are done for all users on the system instead of only the current user. All three options are on by default.


paper [a4|letter]
<[xdvi|pdftex|dvips|dvipdfmx|context|psutils] paper [papersize|--list]>
paper --json

With no arguments (tlmgr paper), shows the default paper size setting for all known programs.

With one argument (e.g., tlmgr paper a4), sets the default for all known programs to that paper size.

With a program given as the first argument and no paper size specified (e.g., tlmgr dvips paper), shows the default paper size for that program.

With a program given as the first argument and a paper size as the last argument (e.g., tlmgr dvips paper a4), set the default for that program to that paper size.

With a program given as the first argument and --list given as the last argument (e.g., tlmgr dvips paper --list), shows all valid paper sizes for that program. The first size shown is the default.

If --json is specified without other options, the paper setup is dumped in JSON format. For the format of JSON output see tlpkg/doc/json-formats.txt, format definition TLPAPER.

Incidentally, this syntax of having a specific program name before the paper keyword is unusual. It is inherited from the longstanding texconfig script, which supports other configuration settings for some programs, notably dvips. tlmgr does not support those extra settings.


path [--windowsmode=user|admin] add
path [--windowsmode=user|admin] remove

On Unix, adds or removes symlinks for executables, man pages, and info pages in the system directories specified by the respective options (see the "option" description above). Does not change any initialization files, either system or personal. Furthermore, any executables added or removed by future updates are not taken care of automatically; this command must be rerun as needed.

On Windows, the registry part where the binary directory is added or removed is determined in the following way:

If the user has admin rights, and the option --windowsmode is not given, the setting w32_multi_user determines the location (i.e., if it is on then the system path, otherwise the user path is changed).

If the user has admin rights, and the option --windowsmode is given, this option determines the path to be adjusted.

If the user does not have admin rights, and the option --windowsmode is not given, and the setting w32_multi_user is off, the user path is changed, while if the setting w32_multi_user is on, a warning is issued that the caller does not have enough privileges.

If the user does not have admin rights, and the option --windowsmode is given, it must be user and the user path will be adjusted. If a user without admin rights uses the option --windowsmode admin a warning is issued that the caller does not have enough privileges.


The pinning action manages the pinning file, see "Pinning" below.

pinning show

Shows the current pinning data.

pinning add repo pkgglob...

Pins the packages matching the pkgglob(s) to the repository repo.

pinning remove repo pkgglob...

Any packages recorded in the pinning file matching the <pkgglob>s for the given repository repo are removed.

pinning remove repo --all

Remove all pinning data for repository repo.


platform list|add|remove platform...
platform set platform
platform set auto

platform list lists the TeX Live names of all the platforms (a.k.a. architectures), (i386-linux, ...) available at the package repository.

platform add platform... adds the executables for each given platform platform to the installation from the repository.

platform remove platform... removes the executables for each given platform platform from the installation, but keeps the currently running platform in any case.

platform set platform switches TeX Live to always use the given platform instead of auto detection.

platform set auto switches TeX Live to auto detection mode for platform.

Platform detection is needed to select the proper xz and wget binaries that are shipped with TeX Live.

arch is a synonym for platform.



Nothing is actually installed; instead, the actions to be performed are written to the terminal.


postaction [option...] install [shortcut|fileassoc|script] [pkg...]
postaction [option...] remove [shortcut|fileassoc|script] [pkg...]

Carry out the postaction shortcut, fileassoc, or script given as the second required argument in install or remove mode (which is the first required argument), for either the packages given on the command line, or for all if --all is given.



If the option --windowsmode is given the value user, all actions will only be carried out in the user-accessible parts of the registry/filesystem, while the value admin selects the system-wide parts of the registry for the file associations. If you do not have enough permissions, using --windowsmode=admin will not succeed.


--fileassocmode specifies the action for file associations. If it is set to 1 (the default), only new associations are added; if it is set to 2, all associations are set to the TeX Live programs. (See also option fileassocs.)


Carry out the postactions for all packages

Print the TeX Live identifier for the detected platform (hardware/operating system) combination to standard output, and exit. --print-arch is a synonym.

Print the TeX Live platform identifier, TL platform long name, and original output from guess.

remove [option...] pkg...

Remove each pkg specified. Removing a collection removes all package dependencies (unless --no-depends is specified), but not any collection dependencies of that collection. However, when removing a package, dependencies are never removed. Options:


Uninstalls all of TeX Live, asking for confirmation unless --force is also specified.

--backupdir directory

These options behave just as with the update action (q.v.), except they apply to making backups of packages before they are removed. The default is to make such a backup, that is, to save a copy of packages before removal.

The "restore" action explains how to restore from a backup.


Do not remove dependent packages.


See above under install (and beware).


By default, removal of a package or collection that is a dependency of another collection or scheme is not allowed. With this option, the package will be removed unconditionally. Use with care.

A package that has been removed using the --force option because it is still listed in an installed collection or scheme will not be updated, and will be mentioned as forcibly removed in the output of tlmgr update --list.


Nothing is actually removed; instead, the actions to be performed are written to the terminal.

Except with --all, this remove action does not automatically remove symlinks to executables from system directories; you need to run tlmgr path remove ("path") yourself if you remove an individual package with a symlink in a system directory.


repository list
repository list path|url|tag
repository add path [tag]
repository remove path|tag
repository set path[#tag] [path[#tag] ...]
repository status

This action manages the list of repositories. See "MULTIPLE REPOSITORIES" below for detailed explanations.

The first form, repository list, lists all configured repositories and the respective tags if set. If a path, url, or tag is given after the list keyword, it is interpreted as the source from which to initialize a TL database and lists the contained packages. This can also be an otherwise-unused repository, either local or remote. If the option --with-platforms is specified in addition, for each package the available platforms (if any) are also listed.

The form repository add adds a repository (optionally attaching a tag) to the list of repositories, while repository remove removes a repository, either by full path/url, or by tag.

The form repository set sets the list of available repositories to the items given on the command line, overwriting previous settings.

The form repository status reports the verification status of the loaded repositories with the format of one repository per line with fields separated by a single space:

The tag (which can be the same as the url);

= the url;

= iff machine-readable output is specified, the verification code (a number);

= a textual description of the verification status, as the last field extending to the end of line.

That is, in normal (not machine-readable) output, the third field (numeric verification status) is not present.

In all cases, one of the repositories must be tagged as main; otherwise, all operations will fail!


restore [option...] pkg [rev]
restore [option...] --all

Restore a package from a previously-made backup.

If --all is given, try to restore the latest revision of all package backups found in the backup directory.

Otherwise, if neither pkg nor rev are given, list the available backup revisions for all packages. With pkg given but no rev, list all available backup revisions of pkg.

When listing available packages, tlmgr shows the revision, and in parenthesis the creation time if available (in format yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm).

If (and only if) both pkg and a valid revision number rev are specified, try to restore the package from the specified backup.



Try to restore the latest revision of all package backups found in the backup directory. Additional non-option arguments (like pkg) are not allowed.

--backupdir directory

Specify the directory where the backups are to be found. If not given it will be taken from the configuration setting in the TLPDB.


Nothing is actually restored; instead, the actions to be performed are written to the terminal.


Don't ask questions.


When listing backups, the option --json writes JSON output. The format is an array of JSON objects (name, rev, date). For details see tlpkg/doc/json-formats.txt, format definition: TLBACKUPS. If both --json and --data are given, --json takes precedence.

search [option...] what
search [option...] --file what
search [option...] --all what

By default, search the names, short descriptions, and long descriptions of all locally installed packages for the argument what, interpreted as a (Perl) regular expression.



List all filenames containing what.


Search everything: package names, descriptions and filenames.


Search the TeX Live Database of the installation medium, instead of the local installation.


Restrict the search of package names and descriptions (but not filenames) to match only full words. For example, searching for table with this option will not output packages containing the word tables (unless they also contain the word table on its own).


Output search results as a JSON hash with two keys: files and packages. For the format of the JSON output see tlpkg/doc/json-formats.txt, format definition TLSEARCH.


Starts an interactive mode, where tlmgr prompts for commands. This can be used directly, or for scripting. The first line of output is protocol n, where n is an unsigned number identifying the protocol version (currently 1).

In general, tlmgr actions that can be given on the command line translate to commands in this shell mode. For example, you can say update --list to see what would be updated. The TLPDB is loaded the first time it is needed (not at the beginning), and used for the rest of the session.

Besides these actions, a few commands are specific to shell mode:


Print protocol n, the current protocol version.


Print pointers to this documentation.


Print tlmgr version information.

quit, end, bye, byebye, EOF



Restart tlmgr shell with the original command line; most useful when developing tlmgr.

load [local|remote]

Explicitly load the local or remote, respectively, TLPDB.


Save the local TLPDB, presumably after other operations have changed it.

get [var] =item set [var [val]]

Get the value of var, or set it to val. Possible var names: debug-translation, machine-readable, no-execute-actions, require-verification, verify-downloads, repository, and prompt. All except repository and prompt are booleans, taking values 0 and 1, and behave like the corresponding command line option. The repository variable takes a string, and sets the remote repository location. The prompt variable takes a string, and sets the current default prompt.

If var or then val is not specified, it is prompted for.


Synonym for "info".


Synonym for remove.

update [option...] [pkg...]

Updates the packages given as arguments to the latest version available at the installation source. Either --all or at least one pkg name must be specified. Options:


Update all installed packages except for tlmgr itself. If updates to tlmgr itself are present, this gives an error, unless also the option --force or --self is given. (See below.)

In addition to updating the installed packages, during the update of a collection the local installation is (by default) synchronized to the status of the collection on the server, for both additions and removals.

This means that if a package has been removed on the server (and thus has also been removed from the respective collection), tlmgr will remove the package in the local installation. This is called ``auto-remove'' and is announced as such when using the option --list. This auto-removal can be suppressed using the option --no-auto-remove (not recommended, see option description).

Analogously, if a package has been added to a collection on the server that is also installed locally, it will be added to the local installation. This is called ``auto-install'' and is announced as such when using the option --list. This auto-installation can be suppressed using the option --no-auto-install (also not recommended).

An exception to the collection dependency checks (including the auto-installation of packages just mentioned) are those that have been ``forcibly removed'' by you, that is, you called tlmgr remove --force on them. (See the remove action documentation.) To reinstall any such forcibly removed packages use --reinstall-forcibly-removed.

To reiterate: automatic removals and additions are entirely determined by comparison of collections. Thus, if you manually install an individual package foo which is later removed from the server, tlmgr will not notice and will not remove it locally. (It has to be this way, without major rearchitecture work, because the tlpdb does not record the repository from which packages come from.)

If you want to exclude some packages from the current update run (e.g., due to a slow link), see the --exclude option below.


Update tlmgr itself (that is, the infrastructure packages) if updates to it are present. On Windows this includes updates to the private Perl interpreter shipped inside TeX Live.

If this option is given together with either --all or a list of packages, then tlmgr will be updated first and, if this update succeeds, the new version will be restarted to complete the rest of the updates.

In short:

tlmgr update --self        # update infrastructure only
tlmgr update --self --all  # update infrastructure and all packages
tlmgr update --force --all # update all packages but *not* infrastructure
                           # ... this last at your own risk, not recommended!

Nothing is actually installed; instead, the actions to be performed are written to the terminal. This is a more detailed report than --list.

--list [pkg]

Concisely list the packages which would be updated, newly installed, or removed, without actually changing anything. If --all is also given, all available updates are listed. If --self is given, but not --all, only updates to the critical packages (tlmgr, texlive infrastructure, perl on Windows, etc.) are listed. If neither --all nor --self is given, and in addition no pkg is given, then --all is assumed (thus, tlmgr update --list is the same as tlmgr update --list --all). If neither --all nor --self is given, but specific package names are given, those packages are checked for updates.

--exclude pkg

Exclude pkg from the update process. If this option is given more than once, its arguments accumulate.

An argument pkg excludes both the package pkg itself and all its related platform-specific packages pkg.ARCH. For example,

tlmgr update --all --exclude a2ping

will not update a2ping, a2ping.i386-linux, or any other a2ping.ARCH package.

If this option specifies a package that would otherwise be a candidate for auto-installation, auto-removal, or reinstallation of a forcibly removed package, tlmgr quits with an error message. Excludes are not supported in these circumstances.

This option can also be set permanently in the tlmgr config file with the key update-exclude.

--no-auto-remove [pkg...]

By default, tlmgr tries to remove packages in an existing collection which have disappeared on the server, as described above under --all. This option prevents such removals, either for all packages (with --all), or for just the given pkg names. This can lead to an inconsistent TeX installation, since packages are not infrequently renamed or replaced by their authors. Therefore this is not recommended.

--no-auto-install [pkg...]

Under normal circumstances tlmgr will install packages which are new on the server, as described above under --all. This option prevents any such automatic installation, either for all packages (with --all), or the given pkg names.

Furthermore, after the tlmgr run using this has finished, the packages that would have been auto-installed will be considered as forcibly removed. So, if foobar is the only new package on the server, then

tlmgr update --all --no-auto-install

is equivalent to

tlmgr update --all
tlmgr remove --force foobar

Again, since packages are sometimes renamed or replaced, using this option is not recommended.


Under normal circumstances tlmgr will not install packages that have been forcibly removed by the user; that is, removed with remove --force, or whose installation was prohibited by --no-auto-install during an earlier update.

This option makes tlmgr ignore the forcible removals and re-install all such packages. This can be used to completely synchronize an installation with the server's idea of what is available:

tlmgr update --reinstall-forcibly-removed --all
--backupdir directory

These two options control the creation of backups of packages before updating; that is, backing up packages as currently installed. If neither option is given, no backup will made. If --backupdir is given and specifies a writable directory then a backup will be made in that location. If only --backup is given, then a backup will be made to the directory previously set via the "option" action (see below). If both are given then a backup will be made to the specified directory.

You can also set options via the "option" action to automatically make backups for all packages, and/or keep only a certain number of backups.

tlmgr always makes a temporary backup when updating packages, in case of download or other failure during an update. In contrast, the purpose of this --backup option is to save a persistent backup in case the actual content of the update causes problems, e.g., introduces an TeX incompatibility.

The "restore" action explains how to restore from a backup.


If you call for updating a package normally all depending packages will also be checked for updates and updated if necessary. This switch suppresses this behavior.


See above under install (and beware).


Force update of normal packages, without updating tlmgr itself (unless the --self option is also given). Not recommended.

Also, update --list is still performed regardless of this option.

If the package on the server is older than the package already installed (e.g., if the selected mirror is out of date), tlmgr does not downgrade. Also, packages for uninstalled platforms are not installed.

tlmgr saves one copy of the main texlive.tlpdb file used for an update with a suffix representing the repository url, as in tlpkg/texlive.tlpdb.main.long-hash-string. Thus, even when many mirrors are used, only one main tlpdb backup is kept. For non-main repositories, which do not generally have (m)any mirrors, no pruning of backups is done.

This action does not automatically add or remove new symlinks in system directories; you need to run tlmgr "path" yourself if you are using this feature and want new symlinks added.


tlmgr reads two configuration files: one is system-wide, in TEXMFSYSCONFIG/tlmgr/config, and the other is user-specific, in TEXMFCONFIG/tlmgr/config. The user-specific one is the default for the conf tlmgr action. (Run kpsewhich -var-value=TEXMFSYSCONFIG or ... TEXMFCONFIG ... to see the actual directory names.)

A few defaults corresponding to command-line options can be set in these configuration files. In addition, the system-wide file can contain a directive to restrict the allowed actions.

In these config files, empty lines and lines starting with # are ignored. All other lines must look like:

key = value

where the spaces are optional but the = is required.

The allowed keys are:

auto-remove = 0 or 1 (default 1), same as command-line option.
gui-expertmode = 0 or 1 (default 1). This switches between the full GUI and a simplified GUI with only the most common settings.
gui-lang = llcode, with a language code value as with the command-line option.
no-checksums = 0 or 1 (default 0, see below).
persistent-downloads = 0 or 1 (default 1), same as command-line option.
require-verification = 0 or 1 (default 0), same as command-line option.
tkfontscale = floating-point number (default 1.0); scaling factor for fonts in the Tk-based frontends.
update-exclude = comma-separated list of packages (no spaces allowed). Same as the command line option --exclude for the update action.
verify-downloads = 0 or 1 (default 1), same as command-line option.

The system-wide config file can contain one additional key:

allowed-actions = action1[,action2,...] The value is a comma-separated list (no spaces) of tlmgr actions which are allowed to be executed when tlmgr is invoked in system mode (that is, without --usermode). This allows distributors to include tlmgr in their packaging, but allow only a restricted set of actions that do not interfere with their distro package manager. For native TeX Live installations, it doesn't make sense to set this.

Finally, the no-checksums key needs more explanation. By default, package checksums computed and stored on the server (in the TLPDB) are compared to checksums computed locally after downloading. no-checksums disables this process. The checksum algorithm is SHA-512. Your system must have one of (looked for in this order) the Perl Digest::SHA module, the openssl program (, the sha512sum program (from GNU Coreutils,, or finally the shasum program (just to support old Macs). If none of these are available, a warning is issued and tlmgr proceeds without checking checksums. no-checksums avoids the warning. (Incidentally, other SHA implementations, such as the pure Perl and pure Lua modules, are much too slow to be usable in our context.)


tlmgr and install-tl perform cryptographic verification if possible. If verification is performed and successful, the programs report (verified) after loading the TLPDB; otherwise, they report (not verified). But either way, by default the installation and/or updates proceed normally.

If a program named gpg is available (that is, found in PATH), by default cryptographic signatures will be checked: we require the main repository be signed, but not any additional repositories. If gpg is not available, by default signatures are not checked and no verification is carried out, but tlmgr still proceeds normally.

The behavior of the verification can be controlled by the command line and config file option verify-repo which takes one of the following values: none, main, or all. With none, no verification whatsoever is attempted. With main (the default) verification is required only for the main repository, and only if gpg is available; though attempted for all, missing signatures of subsidiary repositories will not result in an error. Finally, in the case of all, gpg must be available and all repositories need to be signed.

In all cases, if a signature is checked and fails to verify, an error is raised.

Cryptographic verification requires checksum checking (described just above) to succeed, and a working GnuPG (gpg) program (see below for search method). Then, unless cryptographic verification has been disabled, a signature file (texlive.tlpdb.*.asc) of the checksum file is downloaded and the signature verified. The signature is created by the TeX Live Distribution GPG key 0x0D5E5D9106BAB6BC, which in turn is signed by Karl Berry's key 0x0716748A30D155AD and Norbert Preining's key 0x6CACA448860CDC13. All of these keys are obtainable from the standard key servers.

Additional trusted keys can be added using the key action.

Configuration of GnuPG invocation

The executable used for GnuPG is searched as follows: If the environment variable TL_GNUPG is set, it is tested and used; otherwise gpg is checked; finally gpg2 is checked.

Further adaptation of the gpg invocation can be made using the two environment variables TL_GNUPGHOME, which is passed to gpg as the value for --homedir, and TL_GNUPGARGS, which replaces the default options --no-secmem-warning --no-permission-warning.


tlmgr provides a restricted way, called ``user mode'', to manage arbitrary texmf trees in the same way as the main installation. For example, this allows people without write permissions on the installation location to update/install packages into a tree of their own.

tlmgr is switched into user mode with the command line option --usermode. It does not switch automatically, nor is there any configuration file setting for it. Thus, this option has to be explicitly given every time user mode is to be activated.

This mode of tlmgr works on a user tree, by default the value of the TEXMFHOME variable. This can be overridden with the command line option --usertree. In the following when we speak of the user tree we mean either TEXMFHOME or the one given on the command line.

Not all actions are allowed in user mode; tlmgr will warn you and not carry out any problematic actions. Currently not supported (and probably will never be) is the platform action. The gui action is currently not supported, but may be in a future release.

Some tlmgr actions don't need any write permissions and thus work the same in user mode and normal mode. Currently these are: check, help, list, print-platform, print-platform-info, search, show, version.

On the other hand, most of the actions dealing with package management do need write permissions, and thus behave differently in user mode, as described below: install, update, remove, option, paper, generate, backup, restore, uninstall, symlinks.

Before using tlmgr in user mode, you have to set up the user tree with the init-usertree action. This creates usertree/web2c and usertree/tlpkg/tlpobj, and a minimal usertree/tlpkg/texlive.tlpdb. At that point, you can tell tlmgr to do the (supported) actions by adding the --usermode command line option.

In user mode the file usertree/tlpkg/texlive.tlpdb contains only the packages that have been installed into the user tree using tlmgr, plus additional options from the ``virtual'' package 00texlive.installation (similar to the main installation's texlive.tlpdb).

All actions on packages in user mode can only be carried out on packages that are known as relocatable. This excludes all packages containing executables and a few other core packages. Of the 2500 or so packages currently in TeX Live the vast majority are relocatable and can be installed into a user tree.

Description of changes of actions in user mode:

User mode install

In user mode, the install action checks that the package and all dependencies are all either relocated or already installed in the system installation. If this is the case, it unpacks all containers to be installed into the user tree (to repeat, that's either TEXMFHOME or the value of --usertree) and add the respective packages to the user tree's texlive.tlpdb (creating it if need be).

Currently installing a collection in user mode installs all dependent packages, but in contrast to normal mode, does not install dependent collections. For example, in normal mode tlmgr install collection-context would install collection-basic and other collections, while in user mode, only the packages mentioned in collection-context are installed.

If a package shipping map files is installed in user mode, a backup of the user's updmap.cfg in USERTREE/web2c/ is made, and then this file regenerated from the list of installed packages.

User mode backup, restore, remove, update

In user mode, these actions check that all packages to be acted on are installed in the user tree before proceeding; otherwise, they behave just as in normal mode.

User mode generate, option, paper

In user mode, these actions operate only on the user tree's configuration files and/or texlive.tlpdb.

User mode logs

In user mode, tlmgr.log and <tlmgr-commands.log> are written in the TEXMFVAR/web2c/ directlry instead of TEXMFSYSVAR/web2c/.


The main TeX Live repository contains a vast array of packages. Nevertheless, additional local repositories can be useful to provide locally-installed resources, such as proprietary fonts and house styles. Also, alternative package repositories distribute packages that cannot or should not be included in TeX Live, for whatever reason.

The simplest and most reliable method is to temporarily set the installation source to any repository (with the -repository or option repository command line options), and perform your operations.

When you are using multiple repositories over a sustained length of time, however, explicitly switching between them becomes inconvenient. Thus, it's possible to tell tlmgr about additional repositories you want to use. The basic command is tlmgr repository add. The rest of this section explains further.

When using multiple repositories, one of them has to be set as the main repository, which distributes most of the installed packages. When you switch from a single repository installation to a multiple repository installation, the previous sole repository will be set as the main repository.

By default, even if multiple repositories are configured, packages are still only installed from the main repository. Thus, simply adding a second repository does not actually enable installation of anything from there. You also have to specify which packages should be taken from the new repository, by specifying so-called ``pinning'' rules, described next.


When a package foo is pinned to a repository, a package foo in any other repository, even if it has a higher revision number, will not be considered an installable candidate.

As mentioned above, by default everything is pinned to the main repository. Let's now go through an example of setting up a second repository and enabling updates of a package from it.

First, check that we have support for multiple repositories, and have only one enabled (as is the case by default):

$ tlmgr repository list
List of repositories (with tags if set):

Ok. Let's add the tlcontrib repository (this is a real repository hosted at with the tag tlcontrib:

$ tlmgr repository add tlcontrib

Check the repository list again:

$ tlmgr repository list
List of repositories (with tags if set): (tlcontrib)
   /var/www/norbert/tlnet (main)

Now we specify a pinning entry to get the package classico from tlcontrib:

$ tlmgr pinning add tlcontrib classico

Check that we can find classico:

$ tlmgr show classico
package:     classico
shortdesc:   URW Classico fonts

- install classico:

$ tlmgr install classico
tlmgr: package repositories:
[1/1,  ??:??/??:??] install: classico @tlcontrib [737k]

In the output here you can see that the classico package has been installed from the tlcontrib repository (@tlcontrib).

Finally, tlmgr pinning also supports removing certain or all packages from a given repository:

$ tlmgr pinning remove tlcontrib classico # remove just classico
$ tlmgr pinning remove tlcontrib --all    # take nothing from tlcontrib

A summary of tlmgr pinning actions is given above.


The graphical user interface for tlmgr requires Perl/Tk For Unix-based systems Perl/Tk (as well as Perl of course) has to be installed outside of TL. has a list of invocations for some distros. For Windows the necessary modules are no longer shipped within TeX Live, so you'll have to have an external Perl available that includes them.

We are talking here about the GUI built into tlmgr itself, not about the other tlmgr GUIs, which are: tlshell (Tcl/Tk-based), tlcockpit (Java-based) and, only on Macs, TeX Live Utility. These are invoked as separate programs.

The GUI mode of tlmgr is started with the invocation tlmgr gui; assuming Tk is loadable, the graphical user interface will be shown. The main window contains a menu bar, the main display, and a status area where messages normally shown on the console are displayed.

Within the main display there are three main parts: the Display configuration area, the list of packages, and the action buttons.

Also, at the top right the currently loaded repository is shown; this also acts as a button and when clicked will try to load the default repository. To load a different repository, see the tlmgr menu item.

Finally, the status area at the bottom of the window gives additional information about what is going on.

Main display

Display configuration area

The first part of the main display allows you to specify (filter) which packages are shown. By default, all are shown. Changes here are reflected right away.


Select whether to show all packages (the default), only those installed, only those not installed, or only those with update available.


Select which categories are shown: packages, collections, and/or schemes. These are briefly explained in the "DESCRIPTION" section above.


Select packages matching for a specific pattern. By default, this searches both descriptions and filenames. You can also select a subset for searching.


Select packages to those selected, those not selected, or all. Here, ``selected'' means that the checkbox in the beginning of the line of a package is ticked.

Display configuration buttons

To the right there are three buttons: select all packages, select none (a.k.a. deselect all), and reset all these filters to the defaults, i.e., show all available.

Package list area

The second are of the main display lists all installed packages. If a repository is loaded, those that are available but not installed are also listed.

Double clicking on a package line pops up an informational window with further details: the long description, included files, etc.

Each line of the package list consists of the following items:

a checkbox

Used to select particular packages; some of the action buttons (see below) work only on the selected packages.

package name

The name (identifier) of the package as given in the database.

local revision (and version)

If the package is installed the TeX Live revision number for the installed package will be shown. If there is a catalogue version given in the database for this package, it will be shown in parentheses. However, the catalogue version, unlike the TL revision, is not guaranteed to reflect what is actually installed.

remote revision (and version)

If a repository has been loaded the revision of the package in the repository (if present) is shown. As with the local column, if a catalogue version is provided it will be displayed. And also as with the local column, the catalogue version may be stale.

short description

The short description of the package.

Main display action buttons

Below the list of packages are several buttons:

Update all installed

This calls tlmgr update --all, i.e., tries to update all available packages. Below this button is a toggle to allow reinstallation of previously removed packages as part of this action.

The other four buttons only work on the selected packages, i.e., those where the checkbox at the beginning of the package line is ticked.


Update only the selected packages.


Install the selected packages; acts like tlmgr install, i.e., also installs dependencies. Thus, installing a collection installs all its constituent packages.


Removes the selected packages; acts like tlmgr remove, i.e., it will also remove dependencies of collections (but not dependencies of normal packages).


Makes a backup of the selected packages; acts like tlmgr backup. This action needs the option backupdir set (see Options - General>).

The following entries can be found in the menu bar:

tlmgr menu

The items here load various repositories: the default as specified in the TeX Live database, the default network repository, the repository specified on the command line (if any), and an arbitrarily manually-entered one. Also has the so-necessary quit operation.

Options menu

Provides access to several groups of options: Paper (configuration of default paper sizes), Platforms (only on Unix, configuration of the supported/installed platforms), GUI Language (select language used in the GUI interface), and General (everything else).

Several toggles are also here. The first is Expert options, which is set by default. If you turn this off, the next time you start the GUI a simplified screen will be shown that display only the most important functionality. This setting is saved in the configuration file of tlmgr; see "CONFIGURATION FILE FOR TLMGR" for details.

The other toggles are all off by default: for debugging output, to disable the automatic installation of new packages, and to disable the automatic removal of packages deleted from the server. Playing with the choices of what is or isn't installed may lead to an inconsistent TeX Live installation; e.g., when a package is renamed.

Actions menu

Provides access to several actions: update the filename database (aka ls-R, mktexlsr, texhash), rebuild all formats (fmtutil-sys --all), update the font map database (updmap-sys), restore from a backup of a package, and use of symbolic links in system directories (not on Windows).

The final action is to remove the entire TeX Live installation (also not on Windows).

Help menu

Provides access to the TeX Live manual (also on the web at and the usual ``About'' box.

GUI options

Some generic Perl/Tk options can be specified with tlmgr gui to control the display:

-background color

Set background color.

-font " fontname fontsize "

Set font, e.g., tlmgr gui -font "helvetica 18". The argument to -font must be quoted, i.e., passed as a single string.

-foreground color

Set foreground color.

-geometry geomspec

Set the X geometry, e.g., tlmgr gui -geometry 1024x512-0+0 creates the window of (approximately) the given size in the upper-right corner of the display.

-xrm xresource

Pass the arbitrary X resource string xresource.

A few other obscure options are recognized but not mentioned here. See the Perl/Tk documentation ( for the complete list, and any X documentation for general information.


With the --machine-readable option, tlmgr writes to stdout in the fixed line-oriented format described here, and the usual informational messages for human consumption are written to stderr (normally they are written to stdout). The idea is that a program can get all the information it needs by reading stdout.

Currently this option only applies to the update, install, and "option" actions.

Machine-readable update and install output

The output format is as follows:

fieldname "\t" value
pkgname status localrev serverrev size runtime esttot
other output from post actions, not in machine readable form

The header section currently has two fields: location-url (the repository source from which updates are being drawn), and total-bytes (the total number of bytes to be downloaded).

The localrev and serverrev fields for each package are the revision numbers in the local installation and server repository, respectively. The size field is the number of bytes to be downloaded, i.e., the size of the compressed tar file for a network installation, not the unpacked size. The runtime and esttot fields are only present for updated and auto-install packages, and contain the currently passed time since start of installation/updates and the estimated total time.

Line endings may be either LF or CRLF depending on the current platform.

location-url location

The location may be a url (including file:///foo/bar/...), or a directory name (/foo/bar). It is the package repository from which the new package information was drawn.

total-bytes count

The count is simply a decimal number, the sum of the sizes of all the packages that need updating or installing (which are listed subsequently).

Then comes a line with only the literal string end-of-header.

Each following line until a line with literal string end-of-updates reports on one package. The fields on each line are separated by a tab. Here are the fields.


The TeX Live package identifier, with a possible platform suffix for executables. For instance, pdftex and pdftex.i386-linux are given as two separate packages, one on each line.


The status of the package update. One character, as follows:


The package was removed on the server.


The package was removed in the local installation, even though a collection depended on it. (E.g., the user ran tlmgr remove --force.)


Normal update is needed.


Reversed non-update: the locally-installed version is newer than the version on the server.


Automatically-determined need for installation, the package is new on the server and is (most probably) part of an installed collection.


Package will be installed and isn't present in the local installation (action install).


Package is already present but will be reinstalled (action install).


The revision number of the installed package, or - if it is not present locally.


The revision number of the package on the server, or - if it is not present on the server.


The size in bytes of the package on the server. The sum of all the package sizes is given in the total-bytes header field mentioned above.


The run time since start of installations or updates.


The estimated total time.

Machine-readable option output

The output format is as follows:

key "\t" value

If a value is not saved in the database the string (not set) is shown.

If you are developing a program that uses this output, and find that changes would be helpful, do not hesitate to write the mailing list.


tlmgr uses many of the standard TeX environment variables, as reported by, e.g., tlmgr conf ("conf").

In addition, for ease in scripting and debugging, tlmgr looks for the following environment variables. These are not of interest for normal user installations.


This variable allows selecting a different compressor program for backups and intermediate rollback containers. The order of selection is:

  1. If the environment variable TEXLIVE_COMPRESSOR is defined, use it; abort if it doesn't work. Possible values: lz4, gzip, xz. The necessary options are added internally.

  2. If lz4 is available (either from the system or TL) and working, use that.

  3. If gzip is available (from the system) and working, use that.

  4. If xz is available (either from the system or TL) and working, use that.

lz4 and gzip are faster in creating tlmgr's local backups, hence they are preferred. The unconditional use of xz for the tlnet containers is unaffected, to minimize download sizes.


These options allow selecting different download programs then the ones automatically selected by the installer. The order of selection is:

  1. If the environment variable TEXLIVE_DOWNLOADER is defined, use it; abort if the specified program doesn't work. Possible values: lwp, curl, wget. The necessary options are added internally.

  2. If the environment variable TL_DOWNLOAD_PROGRAM is defined (can be any value), use it together with TL_DOWNLOAD_ARGS; abort if it doesn't work.

  3. If LWP is available and working, use that (by far the most efficient method, as it supports persistent downloads).

  4. If curl is available (from the system) and working, use that.

  5. If wget is available (either from the system or TL) and working, use that.

TL provides wget binaries for platforms where necessary, so some download method should always be available.


By default, compression and download programs provided by the system, i.e., found along PATH are preferred over those shipped with TeX Live.

This can create problems with systems that are too old, and so can be overridden by setting the environment variable TEXLIVE_PREFER_OWN to 1. In this case, executables shipped with TL will be preferred.

Extra compression/download programs not provided by TL, such as gzip, lwp, and curl, are still checked for on the system and used if available, per the above. TEXLIVE_PREFER_OWN only applies when the program being checked for is shipped with TL, namely the lz4 and xz compressors and wget downloader.

Exception: on Windows, the tar.exe shipped with TL is always used, regardless of any setting.


This script and its documentation were written for the TeX Live distribution ( and both are licensed under the GNU General Public License Version 2 or later.

$Id: 71079 2024-04-25 22:15:30Z karl $