TeX - LaTeX Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and related typesetting systems. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Several times now I have inadvertently lost the .tex file that generated a PDF file with pdflatex. Given what I know of the internal structure of PDF files, it should be possible to embed a text file containing the original LaTeX file into the PDF file so that it can be extracted later.

I am aware of no technology for doing this, but perhaps you are. Does anybody have something like this?

share|improve this question
I'd never thought of doing that, but it's a really good idea! – Seamus Mar 11 '11 at 11:19
LaTeXiT, a small utility for MacOS does this. It is a tool to typeset formulas or other stuff (I use it mostly for small TikZ-Figures) in LaTeX and to directly copy the resulting (cropped) PDF into other applications, such as Keynote or Powerpoint. The cool thing is that it embeds the source code into the PDF, so if you, some day later, copy it back into LaTeXiT, you can edit the image. – Daniel May 28 '11 at 19:16
That is super-cool. Thanks for telling me about LaTeXiT – vy32 May 28 '11 at 22:25
If you want to embed the source but keep it secret, use this: tex.stackexchange.com/a/34204/1871. – alfC Sep 18 '12 at 3:19
LaTeXiT appears to do this by storing metadata inside the PDF file. That's different, but it's still super-cool. – vy32 Mar 11 '13 at 4:13
up vote 55 down vote accepted

I would recommend the embedfile or the navigator package (the latter has the additional advantage of working together with dvipdfmx, see this question of mine). Both are quite similar in usage:

With the embedfile package:



The document

With the navigator package:



The document
share|improve this answer
Very nice! This seems better than attachfile since it doesn't insert any objects on the page. Note, however, that you need ./\jobname.tex for xdvipdfmx, as explained in the question I linked to earlier. – Andrey Vihrov Mar 11 '11 at 11:29
@diabonas: It doesn't work here with xdvipdfmx version 0.7.8, TeX Live 2010, though. My TeX Live comes from Gentoo, so it might have different configuration than the one used by the official TeX Live installer. – Andrey Vihrov Mar 11 '11 at 11:48
@Andrey That's quite strange - the same version of the program producing different results? You have convinced me, however, to add the ./ to my answer to be sure that it works :-) – diabonas Mar 11 '11 at 11:54
This worked, but how do I get the embedded file out of my pdf? – Seamus Mar 11 '11 at 12:39
@Seamus Adobe Reader shows the files embedded/attached to the PDF file in the attachment tab - in the most recent version (Adobe Reader X), you open it by clicking the paper clip icon in the left side bar. As an alternative, you can use pdftk to do the extraction on the command line: pdftk file.pdf unpack_files output ~/folder/ – diabonas Mar 11 '11 at 13:26

You can attach arbitrary files to a PDF document using the attachfile2 package.

The above package works only with pdfTeX and dvips. For a XeTeX/xdvipdfmx solution, see this question.

share|improve this answer
I was just drafting much the same answer. The OP might also want to look at the original attachfile package for details of the basic options (basically use \attachfile!). – Joseph Wright Mar 10 '11 at 21:23
Well, I tried attachfile2 and just wasn't able to get it to work properly because of Unicode issues. – vy32 Mar 11 '11 at 19:41

You can do this in ConTeXt as well. Example:

\setupinteraction [state=start]
Foo \attachment[file=attachfile.tex, title=Some file, author=Me]


The file key contains the file name, the title key is used (probably depending on the reader) e.g. for a tool tip (see screenshot). Interaction needs to be activated, otherwise the attachment mechanism don't work.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.