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I am using \tikzexternalize to compile my pictures outside of the main document.

However, when I issue simple \tikz commands within the text, I'd like them to be compiled within the main document, to save some time.

Is there a way to turn externalization on/off, or to just limit it to the tikzpicture environment?

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The global externalization setting can be temporary disabled/enabled (until the end of the TeX group) using \tikzexternaldisable and \tikzexternalenable. Another option is to set the /tikz/external/export={true/false} key; the variant /tikz/external/export next={true/false} applies only for a single picture.

All these are described on page 348f of the TikZ userguide.

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Oops! I was using an older version of the manual :) –  yannick Feb 19 '13 at 22:38

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