So far, I didn't have the chance to use either of these services. Before starting, I would like to hear your opinions. What are the advantages and disadvantages? Why should I choose one over the other? I am mainly interested in the technical side, but I would also love to hear comments also regarding the plans and prices.

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    @Jubobs if a complete free no-registration service exists, it would be nice for people doing a LaTeX course as it avoids having to explain to students how to install a distribution on their own, if any, computers, for homework, alongside work at school. – user4686 May 19 '14 at 12:42
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    I may lose some reputation here by saying this, but... WriteLatex has a pseudo-WYSIGYG option which can help some new/eventual LaTeX users... – Andrestand Jun 25 '14 at 7:15
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    This poster may be a useful overview: academia.edu/3471054/… – crsh Jul 30 '14 at 15:45
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    One interesting vantage point of ShareLaTeX over WriteLaTeX is that the former is free and open source software and can be customized and deployed locally if the users wishes so. – Giovanni Mascellani Dec 16 '14 at 15:45
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    sharelatex and overleaf just merged overleaf.com/blog/… – KlingonJoe Jul 20 '17 at 23:57

I have used the free versions of both.

I started out with Overleaf (formerly WriteLaTeX) since when I first started learning LaTeX, it was the first Google result.

["I find it nice since it auto-compiles, but that also is annoying since if you do not type fast enough, it will compile, even if you are in the middle of an environment that you haven't closed yet. It will then spit out errors"] There is an option to disable the auto compiler of the preview.

. Still, it has find and replace, a rich text editor, tags for projects, and a large library of templates (that I haven't used). The free version comes with 1GB of storage, unlimited projects and collaborators, and a basic save and restore history. Paid versions include save to Dropbox, spellcheck (it is disabled in free), autocomplete, version comparing, priority support, access control (otherwise anyone with the link can edit), and full version history (coming soon).

ShareLaTeX is also good. The free version has a spell checker, autocomplete, and it saves the code to a private Github repo. The paid versions include access to version history, unlimited projects, and sync to Dropbox. The project organization is somewhat worse than Overleaf; ShareLaTeX only has folders. I suggested several improvements that the developers said they would get back too, so project management should be improved in the future. The autocomplete is fuzzy, which means that \beeq matches \begin{equation} which allows for faster completion. It also automatically adds the \end when you do that too.In addition, ShareLaTeX is completely open source; it has a Github repo with all of the code including the LaTeX compiler.

All in all, I believe that ShareLaTeX is better than Overleaf (formerly WriteLaTeX) because of the slightly better feature set.

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  • @alphadelta you're welcome, my edit was prompted by a (now deleted) answer for Overleaf and I figured we could just update this one. I don't use either service, so if any capabilities have changed since you wrote the answer, feel free to update it. Cheers! – Paul Gessler Apr 19 '15 at 19:31
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    And updated to reflect my revised opinion after using ShareLaTeX for a while. – 0az Apr 20 '15 at 22:16
  • It seems Overleaf now has only 100MB free (I still prefer it though). – Mark Jun 18 '15 at 21:22
  • ShareLaTeX misses git support: github.com/sharelatex/sharelatex/issues/10 – koppor Sep 10 '15 at 10:21
  • With their new update one should mention that ShareLaTeX now includes in-code commenting, as well as mathmode-supported chat. Both are a huge collaboration deal-brakers for me! – Matjaž Krnc Mar 10 '17 at 9:12

I've also tried both. WriteLaTeX (now Overleaf) is a bit prettier, but in the end I prefer ShareLaTeX for these reasons:

  • It compiles faster
  • Autocomplete is more robust: it works with package and custom commands
  • It doesn't spawn multiple browser windows/tabs like Overleaf
  • Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V work in vim mode, this doesn't work in Overleaf
  • It's really easy to access the compiled pdf, it is just https://www.sharelatex.com/project/[project_id]/output/output.pdf
  • You can zoom into the preview, and click \url{} links the preview. You can't in Overleaf, this is a showstopper for Overleaf for me.

The only things I miss from Overleaf are autocompile and better editor/preview position sync.

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An interesting property of Overleaf not mentioned here yet, is the fact that the free version supports Git. It is possible to clone your project to your computer, work on it offline, commit your changes, pull new changes, etc.

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Just a quick note that ShareLaTeX and Overleaf have now merged into the new Overleaf v2 platform on 4th September 2018. All previous features from ShareLaTeX and Overleaf are/will be retained (or re-implemented) in v2, including most mentioned on this page. See this Overleaf v2 FAQ for more information.

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One of the main differences I saw is in the use of BibTeX: Overleaf gives you popup access to a search windows when typing \citep{}, making easy to find the key you want to use, while ShareLaTeX does nothing.

edit: ShareLaTeX has just added this feature too, see: https://www.sharelatex.com/blog/2016/02/09/word-count.html

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I totally love the RTF (Rich Text)mood of Overleaf. I don't like the online stuff; but, I am sold because of it. Writing with the neat window is much attractive than swimming inside a Latex code. The code blurs, obstructs the content in the usual Latex editor---The RTF mood removed the obstruction without minimizing the power of the latex: LYX does simplify the editing under the price of losing full control.

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I have tried only Overleaf. Brief word about my profile: I am a scientist (astrophysicist), use three different computers, and mostly mac user but do heavy computing with linux.

Whenever I have an internet connection, I use overleaf instead of a local editor and here is why:

  • automatic updating and preview of final document in the right side of the screen
  • support for git versioning: you can easily add files locally and push to the cloud using git (you can keep a github repo if you want and sync with overleaf)
  • awesome syntax highlighting for latex (the best I’ve seen)
  • no hassle about installing common latex packages
  • lots and lots of templates for all kinds of documents and scientific journals
  • can save tagged versions of the document (similar to LibreOffice versions)
  • and of course: support for collaborative editing (a la google docs)

It has some other features which I do not really care about, but might be useful for some users:

  • support for rich text format if you are not a fan of latex syntax
  • works in your smartphone (tested on iOS)

I tested Overleaf on Safari and Chrome; Macbook and Chromebook. Works like a charm.

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One thing I like about overleaf, is that it lets you download your bibliography directly from Zotero (so you can just click refresh, rather than export a bib file from your computer then upload it).

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  • Major drawback: they import your ENTIRE zotero library. Mine has grown to be quite large (overleaf's bib file is 1.5M) - not a show stopper but unnecessary bloat for the project and it took a while to download and it doesn't update as I add things to zotero. – drevicko Aug 23 '17 at 10:19

I preferred ShareLaTeX because the documents are private. In free Overleaf, whoever has the document url can edit.

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    Welcome to the site! Note that you can get Read only-links for Overleaf projects. – Torbjørn T. Nov 15 '16 at 15:52
  • In Overleaf v2, new projects are private by default including on Free plans unless you've turned on the Link Sharing feature by clicking on the "Share" button at the top. Overleaf v1 projects imported into v2 will have link sharing enabled; you can turn it off again. – imnothere Mar 25 '19 at 12:26

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