I’m still looking for the solution to a question asked in 2010: Under Mac OS X, but staying compatible with other operating systems, I want to hide the mechanics. Please note: I do not want to delete the helper files after the job is done and I do not want to attach them to the PDF either!

A *TeX project should appear as a single file in the Finder, despite its many temporary and auxiliary actual files. It would either open the associated PDF for Quick Look (incl. icon), viewing and printing or the main .tex for compilation or all .tex files for editing. It would still maintain transparent file access for terminal applications. The concept is called either bundle or package in OS X.

Doing this should require only few things that a script or small app should be able to automate:

  • Append .texp or .texd to the folder name (as introduced by Jérôme Laurens for iTeXMac). This is the only change the *tex programs would face.
  • Generate and add at least one .plist file – Info.plist? –, possibly keep it up to date.
  • Adhere to and maintain a certain file and folder structure within.

Several steps would be nice to have, too:

  • Hack the Info.plist of TeXShop (or what-have-you) to claim edit support for the two aforementioned file extensions, and Preview for viewing.
  • Actually make TeXShop support bundles, i.e. no longer store metadata in comments like % !TEX encoding = UTF-8 Unicode or % !TEX TS-program = XeLaTeX or % !BIB TS-program = biber or % !TEX root = main.tex.
  • Store a local copy of all classes and packages used to compile, but only use this if asked to.
  • Revive the texwrapper project, it’s such a good idea.

A recent, closed question suggests – or at least commenters there assume – that such bundles would be used parallel to the actual development version; this is not the case!

  • + 1 But I think it might be helpful if you clarify how this is distinct from the 2010 question that you linked to. If there is no distinction, then it seems likely that this will just be marked as a duplicate. – Adam Liter Dec 20 '13 at 1:45
  • 2
    I think the difference is that Debilski asked how this could be done and I’m asking whether someone has already done or would do it with a script or app, even if it’s (still) not natively supported in frontends. – Crissov Dec 20 '13 at 9:43
  • One of the best features of Mac OS X is the quick preview (by pressing space-bar on a file you can preview it's content without opening it in proper application). Do you think if you bundle the files, you still will be able to have this feature to quick preview the pdf? – Pouya Dec 20 '13 at 10:53
  • Yes, absolutely. Bundles can specify a file (e.g. thumbnail) to be used for Quick Look. – Crissov Dec 21 '13 at 19:42
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    Why would the TeX programmes need to deal with the directory name? I mean, underneath, it is just a directory - that's what all OS X bundles look like to command line tools. So why would they need to accommodate any change at all? – cfr Dec 22 '13 at 19:56

This is a working but basic answer; it's somewhat involved. Also, I am not a programmer by any definition, nor an Os X expert. Surely there are better ways to achieve the same effect.

At the end of the answer, there's a link where you can download a copy of the app described in the post.


In Os X, any directory with an extension can be a "document bundle". To determine if a directory is a bundle, some application has to declare the extension as a bundle. The simplest way to code an application is to use the (free) software Platypus. This software will wrap your shell script into a mac app (and it does much more).

In principle, you can use directly a script and hand wrap it as an app, but this is not supported in 10.6. I own a machine with 10.6, so I decided to use Platypus to give it support for .texd documents.


The same app that claims ownership of the bundle can set up a bundle icon. I made up one using docerator and artwork from here, which looks like this:

enter image description here

The document icon ended up looking like this:

enter image description here

Shell script

Now, on to the programming part. Basically, what you want here is script that tells TeXShop (or some other software of your choice) to open the .tex file inside the .texd directory. I cooked a quick and dirty script, let's call it bundle-actions.sh.

The input to the script is the full path to the bundle, i.e., something like "/Users/koji/Documents/TeX/My test Bundle.texd". The script looks inside the .texd folder for

  1. A file called main.tex – This is the best option.
  2. A file called with the same name of the enclosing .texd folder, i.e. ".../LetterToSanta.texd/LetterToSanta.tex". Mainly for backwards compatibility, though I don't like it too much. Changing the name of the enclosing bundle document can break the bundle. Not so clever.
  3. Any single .tex file, if there's one.

If none of the above works, you have to go inside the .texd bundle (right click, "Show Package Contents") and fix it up yourself.

Also, there's a basic QuickLook support. In QuickLook, tapping the space bar from the Finder will give you some preview of the bundle. I chose to direct QuickLook to the .pdf file corresponding to the .tex file described above. The support is "basic" in the sense that there's no error checking. If there's no QuickLook folder inside the bundle, it will create one and link Preview.pdf (name's fixed by QuickLook) to the main pdf file. Also, it will flag it as hidden, so it doesn't pop up in your finder view.

Finally, the Finder will also reveal the contents of the bundle. This is so you can add files, delete, make subdirectories etc. Caution: It sometimes works, and sometimes the Finder will not let you make changes. In that case, go back one step, right click the bundle and "Show Package Contents". Then you'll be able to edit inside the bundle.

The Shell script is this:


# This is the ".texd" bundle opener for MacOS. 
# It looks inside the .texd directory to open 
# some tex file.

# The algorithm is: if there's a main.tex file, open that. 
# If not, but there's a .tex file with the same name of the .texd
# bundle, open that (e.g. letterToSanta.texd/letterToSanta.tex)
# If not, but there's only one tex file, open that.

#osascript -e 'quit app "TeXShop"'

sameFile="$1/`basename $1 .texd`.tex"
# This here is to compute the number of .tex files in .texd folder
noTeXs="`ls \"$1\"/*.tex 2>/dev/null | wc -l|cut -d' ' -f 8`"

if [ -f "$1/main.tex" ] ; then 
elif [ -f "$sameFile" ] ; then
elif [ $noTeXs -eq 1 ] ; then
    TSFile="`ls \"$1\"/*tex`"
    osascript -e 'tell app "TeX Bundle" to display dialog "I could not find a TeX file to open"'

# Add a TeX subtree inside the bundle.
export TEXMFHOME="$1/texmf:`/usr/texbin/kpsewhich -var-value TEXMFHOME`"

# ==========================
# = Basic QuickLookSupport =
# ==========================
# If QuickLook subdirectory does not exist, create it
# a link to the .pdf file, and hide it, 
# so that the .texd document previews as .pdf
if ! [ -d "$1/QuickLook" ]  ; then
    # File aliases would be useful here, but you can't 
    # make file aliases inside a bundle :(
    # In any event, removing the QuickLook subdir, will recreate it next time

    mkdir "$1/QuickLook" && ( cd "$1/QuickLook";  ln -s  "../`basename \"$TSFile\" .tex`.pdf" \
            "Preview.pdf"  ) && /usr/bin/chflags hidden "$1/QuickLook"

# =====================
# = Call the programs =
# =====================

# Reveal what's inside the .texd
open -R "$TSFile" 
# Open TeXShop
open -a TeXShop "$TSFile"

Making the app

Now, fire up Platypus and setup a project like this:

  • Set your artwork.
  • Output: None
  • Identifier: org.koji.TeXBundle (or some such)
  • Author: Yourself here.
  • Set flag "Run in background"
  • Unset all other flags.
  • Set "Accepts dropped items". Once you set this, a button "Settings" will appear. Click it and,
    • Delete extension *
    • Add extension texd
    • app is "Viewer"
    • Choose your artwork and set it up with "Select document icon"

Here are a couple of screen grabs of the options:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Now create an application and save it. Optimize it if you want, but make sure to mark the option "Use XML property list format instead of binary". This is important!

enter image description here

Final touches

Now comes the last touch; you'll need to go behind OSX's back to trick it into treating directories as file bundles.

Open the terminal, and cd /path/to/your/application/TeXBundle.app/Contents, and edit the file Info.plist. You'll need a plain text editor to edit it. Use vi Info.plist or open -a TextEdit Info.plistor what-have-you.

Go to the part that reads:


And change it to


The LSTypeIsPackage part that you add is where the magic happens. From now on, Os X will let you see .texd folders as files.

To test it, make a folder "test", and inside it, edit "main.tex" to look like this:

enter image description here


enter image description here

The file main.tex can be anything; try this:

    I work!

Now go back one level, and add the extension .texd to the folder test. Finder should look like this:

enter image description here

Notice how the folder now takes the appearance of a file, with your selected artwork. Double clicking in it will launch TeXShop and open a Finder window to inside the texd folder.

After one compilation, tapping the space bar while in the finder will show a preview of the pdf you obtained from latex.


I am not a programmer. I don't know what I am doing; I only researched a bit the answer because the question was interesting. You are on your own if you loose information. Ask someone with real knowledge before trying this.

Hopefully someone will improve on this answer.


I uploaded a copy of the bundle app to File Dropper. Use with caution.

| improve this answer | |
  • One could probably do it in a more elegant or flexible way (e.g. just open "$TSFile" to use standard editor for .tex files or AppleScript instead of shell script or Automator / Xcode instead of 3rd party applications), but it seems to work fine, so I accepted your answer, gratefully. Btw., why is CFBundleTypeRole “Viewer” not “Editor”? – Crissov Feb 21 '14 at 11:03
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    @Crissov Yes, open "$TSFile" would open the tex file with the standard editor for .tex. Automator works OK also, but the simplest app I could make was 3.5Mb, vs 620K via Platypus. Probably Xcode would be better, but I haven't ever used it. Can it wrap scripts too? CFBundleTypeRole: "Viewer" stands for "this app can open, but not save documents of type .texd". – Koji Feb 21 '14 at 11:22

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