tectonic -X compile

Compile a standalone TeX document.

This is a V2 CLI command. For information on the original (“V1” CLI), see its reference page.


Generate myfile.pdf from myfile.tex:

tectonic -X compile myfile.tex

Usage Synopsis

tectonic -X compile  # full form
  [--bundle PATH] [-b PATH]
  [--chatter LEVEL] [-c LEVEL]
  [--color WHEN]
  [--format PATH] [-f]
  [--hide PATH...]
  [--keep-intermediates] [-k]
  [--makefile-rules PATH]
  [--only-cached] [-C]
  [--outdir DIR] [-o]
  [--outfmt FORMAT]
  [--pass PASS]
  [--print] [-p]
  [--reruns COUNT] [-r COUNT]
  [--web-bundle URL] [-w]


This command compiles a freestanding TeX document, outside of the Tectonic document framework. It is virtually the same interface as the “V1” command-line interface, with lots of options. In comparison, the V2 interface is “cargo-like”, with a variety of subcommands anchored around a Tectonic.toml file defining a document to build.

Basic usage of this command is often as simple as:

tectonic -X compile myfile.tex

This will compile the file and create myfile.pdf if nothing went wrong. You can use an input filename of - to have Tectonic process standard input. (In this case, the output file will be named texput.pdf.)


By default, the document is compiled in a “trusted” mode. This means that the calling user can request to enable certain engine features that could raise security concerns if used with untrusted input: the classic example of this being TeX's “shell-escape” functionality. These features are not enabled by default, but they can be enabled on the command line; in the case of shell-escape, this is done with -Z shell-escape.

If the command-line argument --untrusted is provided, these features cannot be enabled, regardless of other settings such as -Z shell-escape. So if you are going to process untrusted input in a command-line script, as long as you make sure that --untrusted is provided, the known-dangerous features will be disabled.

Furthermore, if the environment variable TECTONIC_UNTRUSTED_MODE is set to a non-empty value, Tectonic will behave as if --untrusted were specified, regardless of the actual command-line arguments. Setting this variable can provide a modest extra layer of protection if the Tectonic engine is being run outside of its CLI form. Keep in mind that untrusted shell scripts and the like can trivially defeat this by explicitly clearing the environment variable.


The following are the available flags.

-b--bundle <PATH>Use this Zip-format bundle file to find resource files instead of the default
-c--chatter <LEVEL>How much chatter to print when running. Possible values: default, minimal
--color <WHEN>When to colorize the program’s output: always, auto, or never
--format <PATH>The name of the "format" file used to initialize the TeX engine. Default: latex
-h--helpPrints help information
--hide <PATH>...Tell the engine that no file at <PATH> exists, if it tries to read it
-k--keep-intermediatesKeep the intermediate files generated during processing
--keep-logsKeep the log files generated during processing
--makefile-rules <PATH>Write Makefile-format rules expressing the dependencies of this run to <PATH>
-C--only-cachedUse only resource files cached locally
--openOpen the output PDF after it is built
-o--outdir <OUTDIR>The directory in which to place output files. Default: the directory containing INPUT
--outfmt <FORMAT>The kind of output to generate. Possible values: pdf (the default), html, xdv, aux, format
--pass <PASS>Which engines to run. Possible values: default, tex, bibtex_first
-p--printPrint the engine's chatter during processing
-r--reruns <COUNT>Rerun the TeX engine exactly this many times after the first
--synctexGenerate SyncTeX data
--untrustedInput is untrusted: disable all known-insecure features
-V--versionPrints version information
-w--web-bundle <URL>Use this URL find resource files instead of the default
-Z-Z <UNSTABLE-OPTION>Activate experimental “unstable” options

Unstable options

The following unstable options may be available. As the name aims to indicate, the set of unstable options is subject to change at any time.

-Z helpList all unstable options
-Z continue-on-errorsKeep compiling even when severe errors occur
-Z min-crossrefs=<num>Equivalent to bibtex's -min-crossrefs flag. Default vaue: 2
-Z paper-size=<spec>Change the initial paper size. Default: letter
-Z search-path=<path>Also look in <path> for files (unless --untrusted has been specified), like TEXINPUTS. Can be specified multiple times.
-Z shell-escapeEnable \write18 (unless --untrusted has been specified)