Installing LaTeX

Zettlr allows to export into a variety of file formats, including PDF. There are two ways of exporting to PDF, however: Via Zettlr itself and with the help of an external program called LaTeX. Out of the box, Zettlr supports an export format called Simple PDF. This will export a file to HTML and then "print" it similar to how browsers print websites.

To export more advanced PDF files, you'll need to install LaTeX. LaTeX is a typesetting language that allows for a large amount of customization, but because it is a relatively large program, it does not come bundled with Zettlr. Here we show you how to install it.

LaTeX distributions come in two flavors: A "full" installation featuring a host of graphical programs for writing TeX directly, and a "minimal" installation that only contains the actual compilers. Zettlr is happy with only a minimal installation (because it just needs the compiler), but if you want to fiddle around with LaTeX more you are free to also install the full package.


Especially if you only install the minimal setup, you'll need to install additional packages afterwards. Read to the end of this guide to see how.


Installing LaTeX on Windows works just like any other program. Simply download one of the following:


Similar to Windows, macOS also features simple installers that will install one of the two versions:


Linux distributions commonly have several LaTeX packages available to install directly from your software manager. There are also minimal and full packages. We list options for common distributions below.


It doesn't really matter which of the versions you install, but there is one requirement: You need to install the xetex binary, since that is the compiler that Zettlr uses by default. If in doubt, consult your distribution's manual for more information on how to correctly install TeX.


The minimal setup with the XeLaTeX compiler:

$ sudo apt install texlive-base texlive-xetex

The full setup:

$ sudo apt install texlive-full


Fedora offers three distributions, basic, medium, and full. Install one of these:

$ sudo dnf install texlive-scheme-basic
$ sudo dnf install texlive-scheme-medium
$ sudo dnf install texlive-scheme-full


Install the texlive plugin for Flatpak (be warned, it is the full version and thus quite large):

$ flatpak install org.freedesktop.Sdk.Extension.texlive

Installing Additional Packages

Most LaTeX features come in the form of packages. By default, minimal installations only come with a basic set of packages. The default template that Zettlr uses requires a few additional packages to be present on your system, however. You'll need to install these packages, but they are often just a few Kilobytes large so they won't occupy much disk space.

We recommend you don't install packages unless Zettlr complains during exports. If you are missing some package, Zettlr will give you one of two errors: either Command \somecommand not defined or File somefile.sty not found.

In both cases it is likely that the command or file will be provided by a package. It's easy to install the missing packages using the following procedure.


On Windows, LaTeX will attempt to install the missing packages automatically and will ask you if it should do so.

  1. All LaTeX packages are listed in the "Comprehensive TeX Archive Network" (CTAN). Take the filename (including its extension, .sty) or the command, and search for it using the search bar.
  2. For example, if LaTeX complains that the command \hypertarget is not defined, search for it like this.
  3. In the case of "hypertarget", it will give you a single package: gmiflink. If there are more than one result, try to google which one you need.
  4. To install it on macOS or Linux, type sudo tlmgr install <packagename> into a terminal window.
  5. Afterwards, try the export again. Then it should work; otherwise repeat these steps.