Abstract The important topic of temporal soliton propagation in double-negative metamaterials is discussed with an emphasis upon short pulses that exhibit self-steepening controlled by the frequency dependence of the relative permittivity and permeability. In addition, magnetooptic control is included, leading to some fascinating outcomes that should have practical application. The role of self-steepening, Raman scattering, third-order dispersion and magnetooptics is thoroughly investigated, and it is shown that pulses can acquire signatures in the form of additional velocities with respect to the moving frame. The metamaterial influence upon self-steepening has such a strong frequency dependence that it can be used to combat Raman scattering. The self-steepening can change sign, and it is shown that it is possible to arrange pulses in special switching formats to organise the output times. The metamaterial influence upon bit-patterns admits an important degree of control over multi-pulse interactions, and this is combined with magnetooptics to restore patterns. The role of third-order dispersion is also presented. Again, a control of the pulse behaviour in the neighbourhood where the frequency dependence causes the group-velocity dispersion parameter to approach zero is a direct consequence of using this kind of metamaterial. Finally, a Lagrangian analysis is used to support simulations of the positions of the pulse maxima.