Asymptote: Macintosh

Asymptote (Vector Graphics Language)
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Useful functions - CSE5 Package

Installing Asymptote on a Mac/Linux

The first two installations were tested on Mac OS 10.15.7 "Catalina," but should work for most older systems as well as other Unix systems. The third was tested on Mac OS 11.3 "Big Sur"

Download the Asymptote source here (at the time of this edit, it is version 2.86) by selecting the latest version and downloading the asymptote-x.xx.src.tgz file.
Download and install MacTeX.
Note that anywhere you see "x.xx", replace it with the Asymptote version number (e.g. If the file name was asymptote-2.86.src.tgz, you would replace x.xx with 2.86).

There are three ways to actually install Asymptote: using the AsyIntaller written by PrintrBot, installing it manually via terminal, or using Homebrew.

Installing via the AsyInstaller

  1. Download the code from GitHub here
  2. Unzip the folder if it was not automatically.
  3. Double click the asyinstaller file and follow the instructions in the installer.

If all went well, Asymptote should be installed.

Installing Manually

Terminal commands are italicized.

  1. Open Terminal (located in /Applications/Utilities/
  2. Run: cd ~/Downloads # or wherever you put the asymptote-x.xx.src.tgz file
  3. tar -xvzf asymptote-x.xx.src.tgz
  4. cd asymptote-x.xx
  5. ./configure
  6. make all
  7. sudo make install

If you get an error at the./configure step, stating that there is no acceptable C compiler found in $PATH, a solution is to download and install Xcode (you can get it on the app store.) or Xcode tools

You have finished installing Asymptote.

Installing via Homebrew

1. To download homebrew, run

/bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL"

in the terminal window.

2. Run

brew install --cask mactex

3. Then run

brew install asymptote

both in the terminal window.


Suppose that on the Desktop, you have a file named asyfile.tex

Here is a sample file:



Use whatever LaTeX editor to compile the file. It will return a warning that looks something like this:

Package asymptote Warning: file asyfile_1.pdf does not exist on input line 17.

To compile this into PDF form, in the terminal, run:

cd ~/Desktop
pdflatex asyfile
asy asyfile-*.asy
pdflatex asyfile

To only compile the code, run:

cd ~/Desktop
latex asyfile
asy asyfile-*.asy
latex asyfile

(Only use one or the other). The first latex compilation creates the latex file needed to run asy in the 4th command. The asy command compiles the asymptote code in asyfile.asy, and the final latex compilation completes the file with the asy code. If done correctly, the file will produce a diagonal blue line.


If you don't want to run those 3 commands (the last three are what you really need to compile it - the first 2 are to get into the correct folder), in the terminal, run:

vi ~/.zshrc

Then click "i" to "insert" into the file. Copy and paste this code into the file:

asytex () { pdflatex $1.tex; asy $1-*.asy; pdflatex $1.tex }

Press esc + :wq + return. Quit the terminal, and restart it. You may now compile the file above by running:

asytex asyfile

If you wish to not use "asytex", you can rename it via following the steps above, except, instead of copy and pasting the code above, change the "asytex" at the start of the copy and pasted command. For example, if you want to rename it as "texasy", then the line will look like:

texasy () { pdflatex $1.tex; asy $1-*.asy; pdflatex $1.tex }

And if you wish to only compile it with latex, and not into a pdf, simply replace "pdflatex" with "latex", like so:

asytex () { latex $1.tex; asy $1-*.asy; latex $1.tex }