I have the inverse question of this one, Autocompletion of citation in TeXShop without BibDesk, but instead of "without BibDesk," I am looking for a way to have autocompletion of citekeys from my bib-file "without TeXShop."

I use BibDesk and was wondering if anyone has come up with/would be able to help me find a solution to get system-wide autocompletion on the Mac, similar to the general text-completion.

1 Answer 1


System-wide, the best option is to use BibDesk's Services. For example, in TextEdit I can type

according to \cite{font19

Select font19 and choose TextEdit -> Services -> Complete Cite Key. BibDesk inserts font1991, font1998 in my document. Note that BibDesk has to be set to open the correct bib file on launch, or you should open it manually.

I wrote a TextMate bundle that uses BibDesk, and gives you a popup menu of completion items. It could probably be adapted to other editors with a plugin architecture, but I don't know of a way to tie BibDesk into the dictionary autocompletion these days.

We used to have an Input Manager that gave you \cite and \ref autocompletion in any Cocoa application, but Apple disabled that bundle loading mechanism for security reasons in 10.4 or 10.5, IIRC.

  • This is close to what I'm after, but I was hoping to get something similar to the popup list that TeXShop provides instead of having it insert all of the Cite Keys containing the selected term. Doesn't necessarily need to use the dictionary autocompletion, but some pop-up list through a Service would be awesome.
    – jan
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 10:49
  • Yeah, I know that's what you want, but Apple ties the complete: selector in text views to a dictionary by default, and that's what you get unless the author of the application overrides it specifically. Services can only manipulate your selection, whether it's text or file(s). They don't have a way to draw user interface elements on-screen. Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 15:01
  • So there is no way to get a Service to produce a pop-up window? Please pardon my ignorance, I was hoping there was maybe a way to get an AppleScript produce a list from which the user could choose ...
    – jan
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 20:22
  • It would be possible to display a completion window as a standalone application (e.g., tableview in a transparent window), but positioning the window would be tricky, as you'd have to base it off the global mouse position (which could be different from your selection), or just put it in a random position on the screen. Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 2:23
  • Would that be something you'd be able to help out with if you have time?
    – jan
    Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 10:52

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