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What is instant preview?
Instant preview is a feature that renders math formulae inside the LyX screen using LaTeX. These are generated on the fly so you can see how they'll look in the final document without having to break your train of thought with View→DVI.
Here are some screenshots on Mac OS X and Windows:
LyX will generate previews of math insets. It will also generate previews of Include insets if you select the Show preview check box in the inset's dialog. This latter is useful if you wish to generate a preview of a LaTeX figure, for example.
How do I activate it?
You'll need to install some software (see below). Thereafter, you should enable Instant preview in the Tools→Preferences dialog. (It can be found in the Look & feel→Display pane) Previews are generated when you load a document into LyX and when you finish editing an inset. Previews of an already loaded document are not generated just by selecting the Instant preview check box.
OK, I'm interested. What do I need on Unix/Linux?
Several external utilities,
I'm using LyX under Windows. What do I need?
It works out of the box, have a look at this page: InstantPreview under Windows
If it doesn't work, install the LaTeX-package "preview" (for example via the program "MiKTeX Package Manager" which is available from Windows Start menu). After that package has been installed, you may have to reconfigure LyX with Tools→Reconfigure.
How could I test it?
To test, I recommend that you:
If the previews seem too small or too large compared to the surrounding text, you can fix it as follows:
Add a line
The default value is 0.9. If you have installed LyX on LyXWinInstaller the value is 1.0.
Only for Unix: If this file does not exist, just create it using this command:
echo '\preview_scale_factor 1.0' >> $HOME/.lyx/preferences