LaTeX on the iPad [Ask AstroBetter]

K asks:

Any way to mark up text with Latex on the iPad? Or any other tablet? Without internet access (on an airplane)? I’m spending a lot of time on days-long international flights, and in economy class the risk is too high of the person in front of me lowering their seat and encountering my laptop at a right angle, so I was thinking maybe a tablet would let me get some work done on the plane.

Stay tuned for a guest post about how to minimize your time in cattle class, but in the meantime, the iPad LaTeX solution I’ve converged on is Textastic ($10). Most importantly for me are 1) syntax highlighting and 2) Dropbox integration. The syntax highlighting is crucial for being able to easily wade through and work within all the markup. And Dropbox is the best way to get the document synchronized between the iPad and your other machines. Just be sure to sync the document before you loose internet access!

What I haven’t figured out is how to compile the tex and generate the PDF, but I think this is actually a ‘pro’ since it forces me to work on the words and to not mess around with the formatting and figure placement. (There is an app for that, TexTouch, but it requires internet, a remote computer, etc. and is simply not worth it.)

Check out this post for an app rundown from a mathematicians perspective: Using LaTeX on the iPad: A review of the best and worst apps for writing mathematics.

What have other iPad users figured out? Do you really need to compile the tex in order to make progress on your paper?

(It would be great if one of you could update our iOS wiki page with Textastic, TexTouch, and whatever else comes out of this discussion! Only if we work together can we truly AstroBetter.)

3 comments… add one
  • Alex Feb 3, 2012 @ 8:06

    Textatic is a great app for LaTeX. I used it regularly to start/edit reports and articles on the go. For the compiling, I do not know any way to do it on the iPad. Such a shame as the power of the iPad is more that enough to handle that. I wish I could do it with the same ease as writing html in Textatic: a button lets you display the rendered webpage.
    The only solution I’ve come up with involves a SFTP server in linux and a cron job. I download and look at the rendered pdf using Goodreader.

  • litchie Aug 29, 2012 @ 20:02

    You might be interested in a new app TeX Writer for iPad. It not only lets you edit tex files on iPad, you can compile them right on the device.

  • Hermine Potter Sep 21, 2012 @ 3:02

    Another (free) LaTeX editor solution for the iPhone/iPad is called iVerbTeX. It’s still in an early stage of development but some features like managing projects/project import/export/PDF generation/preview are available. Future releases will include syntax highlighting, dropbox support, autosave, etc.

    Link to App Store:
    Link to Support:

    Hope you like it.

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