Is there a (La)TeX distribution running on iPad?


9 Answers 9


As far as I'm aware you can't install LaTeX on the iPad because of the restrictions that Apple put on it. However, tex documents can be edited and compiled using Tex Touch . The editor is installed on the iPad and the tex document is then compiled online at TeX Cloud. I haven't used Tex Touch myself so I can't comment on how well it works.

  • Interesting data point may be iLuaBox which shows that it is possible to get permission for distributing a "user programmable interpreter" through the App Store. They did have to pull some toolboxes such as their GUI library.
    – Sharpie
    Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 18:50
  • -1 Tex Touch sxcks, more here. It freezes and compilation is really-really bad and time-consuming, never even got it working! Much better idea is to use iPad to handle irritating things such as photographing-insertion-immediately to document, drawing, cropping, adjusting small details -- not yet sure whether any such app exist but trying to find.
    – hhh
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 18:08
  • Are there not also licensing issues? That is, code which is GPL licensed cannot be used as far as I know for any application available through the app store.
    – cfr
    Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 22:55

Dick Koch, the creator of MacTeX, showed me his working installation on his iPad. You should drop a note to the MacTeX mailing list for further information.


A full version Plain TeX/LaTeX on iPad:

This app can compile TeX files on iPad without a cloud server.

  • Downloaded and in testing. Thanks for the heads-up! Follow-up question: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/68436/… Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 13:00
  • ...Texpad looks higher-quality?!
    – hhh
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 18:23
  • -1 don't like this, more here.
    – hhh
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 19:09
  • 2
    @hhh: Please consider that this question is actually not picture-specific, so no reason really to downvote this answer. (Probably the same applies to my answer here.)
    – doncherry
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 0:34

Texpad developers here.

Since version 1.1 Texpad for iOS has had a built in LaTeX typesetter, no internet connection required. Most commonly used LaTeX packages are now included, and we expand the distribution with every update (9 updates in the past three months). It is now so good that one user edits LaTeX on his Mac and typesets on his iPhone because the distribution is leaner, simpler and faster than TeX Live.

PGF drivers are underway right now and the update with local TikZ/Beamer typesetting should be ready for download in Feburary.

In addition to the onboard typesetter, we still provide free cloud typesetting servers with the entirety of TexLive 2012 installed. If you have any further questions, email us at [email protected].


If your device is jailbroken, you might find TeX Live for iPhone interesting (Often, apps for iPhone work on iPads). I haven't tried this "distribution" myself, so I can't give you any advice on or review of it, unfortunately.

(However, if you need information on jailbreaking, I can recommend a few good websites to you.)

Here's a blog article on why a (non-jailbroken) TeX port for iPad isn't very likely until some seriously major work on TeX itself has been done: The Price of a Messy Codebase: No LaTeX for the iPad

  • The linked post is all about TeX at a binary level: there is very little about LaTeX! (Or indeed the fact that a lot of a TeX system is documentation and sources, not code).
    – Joseph Wright
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 22:32
  • @JosephWright: So I should say "TeX port" and "on TeX itself" instead of "LaTeX port" and "on LaTeX itself"?
    – doncherry
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 22:54
  • 1
    Texpad developers here. As it happens, we've spent the last 9 months doing that serious work. Huge chunks of the underlying system were re-written in bringing LaTeX to iOS: texpadapp.com . A universal app for iPad and iPhone.
    – VV Texpad
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 16:17

The online collaborative LaTeX editor writeLaTeX works well on the iPad. It compiles on the server, and so requires an internet connection, but is totally free to use and allows easy access to your LaTeX files when out and about.

As there's no sign up required, you can also try it out for free without any commitment.

(I should point out I'm one of the developers at writeLaTeX - we hope you find it useful, and any feedback is always appreciated, thanks)

  • 1
    writeLaTeX is now Overleaf.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 1:51

If you are happy with being able to edit LaTeX on your iDevice but having the actual LaTeX binaries running on a server you have the following two browser based alternatives:

  • ScribTeX has its own javascript editor and works on iPad and iPhone.

  • LaTeX Lab is using a Google docs front-end which should partially work on an iPad.

  • 1
    Or you could just use iSSH and your desktop at work/home. Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 10:58

I have tried Tex Writer, Tex Touch, Texpad -- and a lot of small apps. I think Texpad and TeX Writer complement one another, Texpad with cool outlining mode while TeX Writer with ability to have Texlive with it. So I would recommend both of them but this suggestion may change.

Likes and Dislikes

I don't like that Texpad misses features to share short LaTex snippets to services such as Twitter, irritating. Then I don't like that it takes too long time to add images to LaTex document and adjust images, it could be done a way better with iPad's camera and even text -insertion with Mic could be done easier. Key reasons why I don't like them: features such as Vim -style movements, making writing faster, missing, and nothing like described at App to Add photos to LaTex document with iPad camera?. The last features are totally missing in TexPad and TeX Writer which I would like to have.

Why Do I still like Texpad?

  • outlining mode
  • good colours for syntax

Why Do I still like TeX Writer?

  • ability to run native Texlive with it, more here.

Perhaps related

  1. App to Add photos to LaTex document with iPad camera?

  2. Math SE -question about reading books and writing with iPad here

  • (Texpad developers here.) I should address the confusion that appears to have been surrounded on Texpad's abilities: currently it's the most complete LaTeX system on iOS. Please see my fuller answer below.
    – VV Texpad
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 16:22

Texpad currently delivers the most complete LaTeX system on iOS. Its LaTeX Bundle Manager effectively puts the whole of Texlive in your hands, but not in a monolithic block that takes up your expensive iOS storage space unnecessarily. See more here: http://support.texpadapp.com/kb/typesetting-ios/latex-bundle-manager-on-texpad-ios . Briefly, when you typeset, Texpad flags the missing package and the Texpad Bundle that includes it. All you have to do then is tell Texpad to go ahead and download and install the bundle that includes your missing package.

In addition to the Bundle Manager delivering the actual packages and font files, a lot of drivers had to be rewritten to cope with the iOS build requirements.

We believe that we're also the first app to deliver a working, local implementation of Beamer (for presentations) and TikZ (for graphics). It was a lot of work guys, but we're glad to have delivered it.

To answer a related question raised above: you can import images into Texpad from your Camera and from the Photo Library. See the iOS section of our KB article: http://support.texpadapp.com/kb/user-interface-ios/graphics-support-in-texpad-ios-and-os-x

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