This question concerns TeXshop 3.77 on OSX 10.10.5. Suppose you have already placed two labels:




If you type


then press Esc, BibDesk gives you the two suggestions eq:abstract and eq:abstain. If, however, you type one more character (or more), as in


then press Esc, then no suggestions appear. This can be a bit of a nuisance when typing large documents, for which one needs lots of labels. Incidentally, other editors's autocompletion features do not seem to suffer from this limitation (I have tried Kile and TeXmaker).

Is this a known fact/issue? Is there any way to remove this limitation from BibDesk?

  • Sigh... I'm not seeing this behavior. I use F5 to get BibDesk to check (cross)references, not ESC, because I have ESC set to do Command Completion. What version of BibDesk are you using? (Although that code is probably all in TeXShop itself. PS: I'm also using TeXShop 3.77. Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 19:59
  • I can't reproduce this either.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 20:15
  • @HerbSchulz: I must admit that I do not know how to check my BibDesk version. :-) Anyway, I confirm the phenomenon, in all my documents. I will try to understand what could cause it. Thank you for your time Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 23:04
  • @GiuseppeNegro open BibDesk and click BibDesk->About BibDesk. Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 1:08
  • 1
    Aha... with eqref I am seeing something. It appears that using eq:ab the suggestions say (BibDesk) but eq:abs doesn't show the (BibDesk) so it looks like Apple's completion is taking over. I don't know why. Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 0:55

1 Answer 1


These completions are not actually coming from BibDesk; the code is in TeXShop, and was a patch that I wrote to replace the old BibDesk input manager. I guess they might still be tagged as BibDesk completions for historical reasons, but only bibliographic suggestions will come from BibDesk.

Anyway, there is a limit on how many characters (12) the textview will look back from the insertion point to see if it's an autocomplete context. If it doesn't see a \ref of some kind, it falls over to the system's autocomplete. At the time, there was a range limit imposed because

  1. we were injecting code into all Cocoa applications
  2. interprocess communication (IPC) when getting references from BibDesk was slow and we didn't want to penalize dictionary lookups

Now that IPC doesn't use AppleScript and computers are faster than they were in 2005, that limit could likely be raised.

  • Thank you very much for your answer. Even a small increase, from 12 to 15 characters, say, would make a big difference IMHO. One usually needs only the first few characters to identify a label. Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 9:12

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