TeXShop with Unicode Hebrew (i.e., Hebrew Latex on OS X)

(written April 2006, might be outdated!)


The best way to obtain a fancy document, with fancy equations, is to use LaTeX (or its cousins). The catch is a high learning curve, but one which is well worth the investment.

If you are working on Mac OS X, this is especially the case, because the standard (mediocre) solution on windoze, which is MS Word, does not exist—Microsoft on purpose avoids adding multilingual support to their Office Suite (why is it that Expolorer is the only browser on the Mac which doesn't support Hebrew?). Other options are no better (NeoOffice, Mellel or Nisus Writer Express) are either costly, don't display equations nicely, or both. (Though NeoOffice, with its 0$ price tag does have very nice advantages, because of which it is worth installation).

Thus, the cheapest (that is free) solution which properly displays Hebrew and math is LaTeX with Hebrew extensions. Since we wish to edit the files on "OS X" and in particular, on the really nice TeXShop front end which supports unicode but none of the other hebrew standards, we require unicode support for LaTeX.

Here is an example: Both the .tex file and the resulting .pdf

Downloading Components

1. Make Sure you install the latest TeXShop and the underlying teTeX engine. This can be done by following the instructions in the TeXShop website. (TeXShop is a front end applications with which you can edit and tex files. The application uses the underlying teTeX engine). It includes TeXShop installation (simple download and copying to the application folder) and installation of different packages using the i-Installer package handler. I used the full 2004 teTeX distribution.

2. Download Ivritex from sourceforge. Uncompress and open the archive. You have two options to install. Either in the teTeX directory (located at: /usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf ) or in your texmf directory in your local library (/Users/<your-login>/Library/texmf). The former option will get erased next time you upgrade teTeX, the latter option will be available only to a single user. To install:
  • cd <the-unachived-ivritex-folder>
  • Install the files required files, by typing:
make TEX_ROOT=/Users/<your-login>/Library/texmf install

For installing it in your Library. You can use the above teTeX/texmf location just as well. If the installation ended with an error, most likely the teTeX installed is not upto date, or, that the teTeX installation was not full.

3. Download unicode support for latex (which supports hebrew, as opposed to the standard unicode which doesn't support hebrew).

  • Unarchive the package. From the ucs folder that will appear, copy the files ucs.sty, utf8x.def, ucsencs.def and data/* to a TeX-path folder. For example:
mkdir /Users/<your-login>/Library/texmf/tex/ucs
cp -r ucs.sty utf8x.def ucsencs.def data /Users/<your-login>/Library/texmf/tex/ucs

Configuring TexShop

Open TeXShop. In the Document pane of the Preferences Window (under the "File" menu), make sure that encoding is set to UTF-8 Unicode. Also, it might not work properly with the TeX and ghostscript option.

You can now edit files. For example, you can use the above example files (here they are again: a .tex file and the resulting .pdf).

Note that in TeXShop, the hebrew is not right justified when you edit the text... but it doesn't change the final appearance of the document which is o.k.

You can also look more deeply at the ivritex examples which you downloaded (they use non-unicode encodings, so you cannot edit them with TeXShop, but they will LaTeX properly!)


Comments (5)

  • anon


    Thanks for the useful information. However, you write that it might not work properly with the TeX and ghostscript option -- is there an easy way to use Hebrew with the PS/Ghostview option (which is necessary if .eps files are to be used)? Alternatively, is there an easy way to use .eps figures with pdfLaTeX?

    Reply: In the few cases I needed hebrew LaTeX (which were writing exams), I generated pdf versions of the figures (e.g., with ps2pdf, or generating them as pdf to begin with). I didn't bother finding out whether you can make it work with PS/Ghostview.

    Sep 26, 2006
  • anon

    I followed your insrection, however I had errors when making the ivritex package (version 1.2.1). The error was using the -a option with cp. What should I do?

    Mar 05, 2007
  • anon

    -a option? it reads -r, which stands for recursive. This copies all the contents of the directories and not just plain files.

    Mar 06, 2007
  • anon
    Jacob Shapiro (not verified)

    It appears ivritex has some issues..
    I downloaded version 1.2.1 and I too get the problem about cp -a.
    So what I found that the file fonts/culmus/Makefile (within the ivritex distribution) contains calls for "cp -a". I changed those to cp -r, and then it worked. Not before I had to also do "touch fonts/culmus/tfm/shite.vf" after receiving an error about no files existing in this directory under the mask "*.vf". After doing the above procedures "make" ended successfully.
    However, it seems that unicode support for LaTeX has been moved, as it is no longer in the website mentioned in the original post, see:

    Is there anywhere else to find this unicode support?

    So far I've already finished all my dreadful lab reports, which were exclusively in English due to the fact I couldn't get Hebrew support straight. But perhaps it is better since in Hebrew half of the words in physics texts are "loazit" in any case.


    Apr 12, 2007
  • anon

    once I return back to the holy land. currently travelling.

    Apr 14, 2007