Synctex, emacs and okular on Fedora 17

Posted on 31 January 2013

Synctex is a feature available in the more recent LaTeX distributions that embeds links to locations in the source code (e.g. file name and line number) at the corresponding locations in a pdf file. When viewed with a compatible viewer and editor, we can automatically scroll the viewer to the point in the pdf corresponding to the location of the cursor in the editor, and vice versa. Very handy if you are editing a long document (e.g. a thesis or paper)! In theory, emacs and Okular is an example of a compatible editor and viewer combination.

In TeX Live 2007 (the distribution installed by default on Fedora 17 using yum), synctex is not supported so all this goodness does not work. To get things working, we need to update to the more modern TeX Live 2012. This can be easily done by installing directly from TeX Live. I installed TeX Live 2012 to /opt/texlive/2012 as this is a distribution-independant location (the default is in /usr/ and might clash with with any yum installation.) Remember to uninstall any other latex distributions, and add the newly installed location to the PATH environment variable.

Once this is done, some configuration code needs to go into the .emacs file:

(add-hook 'LaTeX-mode-hook
           (add-to-list 'TeX-expand-list
                          (lambda () default-directory)))))
(add-hook 'LaTeX-mode-hook 'TeX-source-correlate-mode)
(setq TeX-view-program-list 
      '(("okular" "okular --unique %o#src:%n%(dir)./%b")))
(setq TeX-source-correlate-method 'synctex)

Note that this snippet is not compatible with TeX Live 2011 even though TeX Live 2011 also supports synctex. This is because there is a difference in the file path formatting used.

Okular also needs some set up. In Settings>Configure Okular...>Editor select emacs client as the editor. Finally restart emacs. With that we are done. LaTeX files need to be compiled from within AUCTEX for synctex to work.

If everything works, Okular will automatically scroll to the location of the emacs cursor on C-c C-v. Shift-left click in Okular should perform the reverse look-up and scroll to the relevant line in the source in emacs. Lovely!

I’m using emacs 24.1.1, Okular 0.15.5 and AUCTEX 11.86.