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I use the following to live-preview my LaTeX files:

latexmk -pvc -pdf my_file.tex

However, in OS X, Preview only updates when you bring it into focus (e.g. you click on the the window). In many ways, this detracts from the experience of having a live-preview.

Are there any PDF viewers in OS X that are particularly well suited for live-preview?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you do your editing in Emacs (see TeX.SX's review and a binary .app for OS X), you can activate auto-revert-mode in the PDF preview buffer. Each time the PDF changes, the change will be reflected in the window without you moving focus.


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Thanks! I actually use Emacs on OSX (the same binary you pointed to), and have AUCTeX installed. How do you get that preview buffer in Emacs ? – Amelio Vazquez-Reina Mar 15 '14 at 3:35
Just C-x C-f foo.pdf; DocView should kick in at that point. Remember to run M-x auto-revert-mode when you find it. (You can also add something of an auto-minor-mode-alist to emacs with this answer to an old question of mine on SO.) – Sean Allred Mar 15 '14 at 3:43
I don't think preview buffer work with xelatex. – Aung Mar 15 '14 at 14:09
@Aung how do you mean? I work with XeTeX almost exclusively these days and I've never had a problem. – Sean Allred Mar 15 '14 at 16:16
@SeanAllred Thanks for the info. Do I have to set up specifically like Skim? Could you guide me more info for .emacs? – Aung Mar 15 '14 at 21:36

I use two.

Skim ($0) (available here) works as a general PDF viewer and has a decent auto-update feature. Occasionally the update is broken (some errors in code compilation cause this at times), but for the most part it is pretty reliable. The window comes to the foreground when it updates, too, which can be nice if you have buried it since the last update.

Latexian is more of a full development environment ($10) (featured on SE) that has a built-in live preview; it has support for bibtex, indexes and glossaries, among other features. As an additional note, I find Latexian to be very useful in prototyping solutions to some of the questions I examine from TeX.SE. It is very quick to start a document, and you can immediately live-preview, even before committing to saving the file(s) on your hard drive.

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I'll note that the files are always saved to disk before they're compiled -- it's just a matter of where it's being saved :-) I have some config in my editor to just open a file in a temporary directory (no matter what OS I'm on) -- this directory is deleted every so often by the OS, so it's no clutter. – Sean Allred Mar 9 at 20:59

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