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What's the fastest way to preview changes as I learn TeX?

This is my first post to TeX. I have taken it upon myself to learn how to type math formulations via LaTeX, but I need some help setting up.

Basically, what I am trying to do, is:

  • Get some editor, (From the stack exchange they talk about many already)
  • However, I would like my editor to be simple in the sense that, as I type a math equation, its results are shown to me automatically so that I can quickly learn it as I go.

Does such a thing exist? Googling this results in information overload, I just want a quick/easy way to get started with those qualities.

P.S. I am very new to TeX/LaTeX all I know is that LaTeX is associated with being able to type math formulas, I don't know about all those others ones I am seeing.

  • What @tohecz's comment means is that a question almost identical to yours has already been asked here on tex.sx. It is in the nature of this site to avoid having duplicate answers, hence this question here will be closed soon (once five people have voted for closing). Have a look at the question tohecz pointed you to.
    – doncherry
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 16:49
  • Exactly as @doncherry says. It is nothing against you, it's just a way to keep the TeX.SE forum clean. You might be interested in another thread as well: Is there any way to get real-time compilation for LaTeX?
    – yo'
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 16:58
  • Isn't it a bit like asking if there's a computer that can compute computations?
    – polemon
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 17:40
  • @Mohammad I recently released such an app which can also export to PDF, play.google.com/store/apps/…
    – T. Webster
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 8:04
  • @T.Webster Thanks Ill have to check it out. Its paid?...
    – Spacey
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 15:08

5 Answers 5


http://www.bakoma-tex.com/ is a 'real time' editor. I've never tried it myself but you might want to give it a go.

An alternative would be LyX which is not real time but basically a WYSIWYM-Editor.

  1. On the Mac, there is Latexian which works well. Lataxian is no longer maintained (March 2016)
  2. From my own experience, the usefulness of such a tool is limited:
    1. If the document is long, you will get a sluggish feeling. Each compilation will require time and not be apparent immediately
    2. You will start to look too often at the finished result and not on the content.
  3. Where it is useful is for drawing diagrams that require a lot of tweaking or for (extremely) complicated multiline equations
  • Latexian is a little too slow to be used as a real time editor on my Mac Commented May 28, 2014 at 1:55

Another possible, near real time, is Emacs with Preview LaTex on a fast PC or Mac.


latexmk has a -pvc flag that continually checks the file that you want to build (or any of its dependancies for updates, and recompiles as appropriate. This leaves you free to use any text editor of your choosing. This won't quite be instantaneous, and will only occur when you save your source, but it may be as quick as you can manage.

If you intend to use LaTeX to produce more complicated documents with references, tables of contents/figures/listings and the source split across multiple files, using a build system such as latexmk or rubber greatly simplifies the compilation process and keeps track of the number of times the various tools need to be run and in what order. Because of this I'd recommend learning to use latexmk now, as it'll probably be something you'll want to learn to use down the line anyhow.


Gummi automatically compiles the document and updates the PDF display at regular intervals, and so the experience approximates real-time preview. It was originally developed for Linux platforms, the Windows version is now in beta. The website says there is no plan for a Mac OS version, though.

  • It got moved to a different URL—project was dormant for a few years and then revived by the author (albeit just posting a new README, there doesn't seem to be very active development). I've updated the URL now.
    – imnothere
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 1:11

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