Whenever I used an underscore it automatically adds those curly brackets to it. Now sometimes thats nice, but sometimes you really dont need this. Is there a way to disable that feature? I roamed through the options several times now but can't find the one regarding my problem.

  • Can't you simply use a backslash? \_
    – scitexter
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 19:29
  • Though _{1} and _1 are equivalent, I believe it's best to stick to the braces. A well known counterexample is _\in which might surprise the beginner; writing _{\in} it won't break.
    – egreg
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 23:20
  • Actually, while some (like George Gratzer, in his book More Math into LaTeX) advocate the uniform use of braces to delimit materials in subscripts and superscripts, I find that it does decidedly not enhance the legibility of the LaTeX/TeX code that contains lots of expressions with sub- and superscripts. In fact, a thicket of _{t}, ^{n} etc terms, rather than the simpler _t and ^n terms, can make it harder to decipher the code. To improve legibility, it's far more important to leave adequate whitespace, to break up long lines judiciously, and to indent as appropriate.
    – Mico
    Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 4:01

1 Answer 1


There are two ways you can control this behaviour in TeXShop: permanently or temporarily.


At the top of each source window there should be a check box called Key Bindings. (If it's not there, you can add it by choosing the Customize Toolbar item from the Window Menu and dragging it to the toolbar.)

Toolbar image

If you unclick the checkbox, you can turn off all automatic substitutions temporarily.


If you want to change just the behaviour of the underscore or caret, you can permanently change them by choosing the Key Bindings menu item from the Source menu. This will give you the Key Bindings editor and you can change any key binding you like:

enter image description here

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