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What viewers do you use for reviewing the beautifully-styled output of your LaTeX source?

List PDF, DVI and PostScript options.

Possibly, one entry per answer, and list platform availability, license conditions (open source vs. freeware/proprietary).

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Would just 'big-list' and 'viewers' make sense for the tags here? –  Joseph Wright Aug 19 '10 at 7:04
    
It'd be nice to have one program listed per answer. (And I suppose the [pdf] and [dvi] tags could go.) –  David Z Aug 19 '10 at 7:35
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What about including Postscript viewers in this question? –  Stefan Kottwitz Aug 19 '10 at 12:17
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It would be also nice if the answers said if you have to close the PDF before re-running latex or if it can auto-detect changes in the PDF and reload. –  Roman Plášil Aug 19 '10 at 13:46
    
Afaik, there is only one platform (Windows) that in some previewers forces you to close the PDF before rerunning. –  Taco Hoekwater Aug 22 '10 at 7:38
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12 Answers 12

For PDF, I use Preview, evince, or xpdf, depending on which computer I'm using. For dvi, I almost never do not convert the dvi to postscript, but if I don't, I use xdvi.

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Evince can also view dvi files. –  Caramdir Aug 19 '10 at 15:02
    
This preview is the same as preview.app in Debian? Description: General purpose image viewer for GNUstep. Homepage:home.gna.org/gsimageapps –  Faheem Mitha Feb 14 '11 at 21:55
    
@Faheem: Preview.app in Mac OS X. –  TH. Feb 15 '11 at 4:06
    
Ok. This is different from the one in Debian? –  Faheem Mitha Feb 16 '11 at 22:08
    
@Faheem: Almost certainly. –  TH. Feb 16 '11 at 22:12
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One unexpected entry here: Okular on Windows.

Good stuff:

  • Light-weight and quick to start, even on Windows (and that says something).
  • Rendering quality is perfectly good for a quick check of the output.
  • Supports refreshing of the document, so no need to close it and open again. That makes it so quick.
  • PDF bookmarks are supported.
  • Nicer output than the other viable contender (Sumatra PDF), and works better with .PNG files than the dreaded Reader.

Bad stuff:

  • You need to install KDE for Windows in order to use it, and that takes some extra HDD space (even the minimally required will eat some 200+ MB).
  • Some KDE libraries need to be loaded, and this will take up some precious memory (on my system, something like 50 MB just for those)
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what specifically does 'nicer output' mean? –  Mohan Dec 30 '12 at 22:38
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Mac OS X

  • Skim supports "reload when the file changed" and synctex (for forward and backward searching). It has a very nice "preview the internal link" feature (good for checking your bibliography references). It has lots of features, but it misses layer support (OCG).
  • Acrobat professional for layer support and to examine the file.
  • less for looking at the pdf in another way :)

(Others please continue this list)

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Linux

I use a whole slew of PDF viewers, basically anything I can get my hand on:

  • xpdf. Mostly because it starts up so quickly, but its feature set is quite limited.
  • acroread. When you want to be sure a pdf is generated ok, this is the best, but it is slow. Also needed for annotation support.
  • okular
  • evince
  • gv
  • mupdf
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xpdf is really great. Sometimes the fonts are rendered better in evince, though. –  Bran the Blessed Aug 19 '10 at 8:59
    
I like its key shortcuts. –  Leo Liu Aug 19 '10 at 9:03
    
xpdf is my standby, and it does load very quickly, but it can also be extremely slow to render large graphics (both vector and raster), especially if there is transparency. I find that for large graphics acroread is actually the fastest (once it eventually loads up). –  ESultanik Aug 19 '10 at 13:27
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I find mupdf very fast and its rendering is much "smooth" than xpdf, evince also got annotation support for a while now (reading only, editing in the development version AFAIK). –  Khaled Hosny Aug 29 '10 at 8:35
    
We had issues in my lab with xpdf displaying some JPEG images at very low resolution for no apparent reason when Adobe displayed them just fine. Just a warning. –  Canageek Mar 7 '12 at 4:21
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If you like vim, you might also like apvlv. This PDF viewer uses vim-like movement behaviour.

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Similar to apvlv is Zathura, which also uses vim-like movements. I hacked up some scripts to provide partial synctex forward/reverse search between Zathura and gvim, which you'll find here (scroll to post 370): bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?pid=807664 –  frabjous Aug 19 '10 at 15:27
    
@frabjous: Very interesting! I'll definitely take a look. –  Bran the Blessed Aug 19 '10 at 18:13
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epdfview is also nice. It is more like evince, but does not require the GNOME libraries.

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...trying to follow the "one program per answer" rule here :) –  Bran the Blessed Aug 19 '10 at 9:02
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Windows

The Foxit Reader is a small though feature-rich PDF viewer for Windows. Besides the usual features of a reader it provides

  • multi-tab browsing, single and multiple document interface mode,
  • editing tools like textbox and form filling,
  • adding comments with spell checking and undo/redo,
  • reviewing and commenting tools like highlighting, underlining and magnifying glass
  • conversion to text format,
  • adding and modifying bookmarks,
  • adding multimedia attachments and links to a document,
  • secure reading in safe mode.

Sadly, there's no auto-refresh.

Be careful though when installing: an additional installation of the ask.com toolbar is default.

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Sumatra, an open source viewer for Windows. It is very lightweight and fast, supports reload-on-file-change and synctex (for forward and backward searching). It intentionally doesn't have a lot of features, but it works very well.

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Would you mind improving your answer to include features that you think are useful in Sumatra, so that other people (me included) could vote it up? –  Martin Tapankov Aug 19 '10 at 12:24
    
The no-filelock-autorefresh and pdfsync make Sumatra a good choice for previewing. It has some bugs that can result in formattng errors (e.g., wrong margins) when printing so for printing it has a menu choice in "F"ile menu of "Open in Adobe Reader". The combo of Sumatra for viewing and Acrobat Reader for printing works well. –  Herbert Sitz Aug 23 '10 at 1:25
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Windows

After progressing from Adobe (!) through Sumatra and Foxit, I finally arrived at PDF-XChange Viewer, and am very pleased with it, especially the two full-screen modes (one of which truly is full-screen) and the facilities for annotation.

Hmm, forgot something very important: it also has the ability to add dimension lines, thus feeding my OCD for microscopic fine tuning of page layout!


@user714: Yes, your comment is partially valid; but my workflow is probably not the same as yours.

For the quick-and-dirty is-it-working sort of questions, I use the PDF viewer that comes with TeXworks; PDF-XChange is for close work and fine tuning, measuring distances, and so forth.

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To be useful as a TeX viewer, a program has to allow you to TeX the file while you are viewing it, and then it has to automatically refresh the file (so you are viewing it at the same spot). Neither PDF-XChange nor Foxit seem to do this, so I'm not sure why they are being recommended. Sumatra does do this.

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Some editors (TexnicCenter, AFAIR) support closing and reopening the file even if the PDF reader itself does not allow simply refreshing it. –  Martin Tapankov Aug 19 '10 at 14:14
    
Yes, but that's a clunky way of doing things. –  Mephisto Aug 19 '10 at 14:40
    
I guess it depends on your workflow. I don't like integrated editors (I prefer to compile on the command line), and it does not bother me to press a key in the previewer to update the display. If there is no way to updated the display, then it gets annoying, though (as was the cae in older versions of AcroRead). –  Taco Hoekwater Aug 22 '10 at 7:36
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Preview.app on Mac OS X seems to work surprising well as a PDF previewer, and it is a standard part of the operating system.

I usually keep two windows open: editor and Preview.app. I use a keyboard shortcut in my editor to trigger the Latex compilation. Then I cmd-tab to change windows; when I switch to Preview.app, it automatically notices that the document has changed and reloads it quickly. It doesn't lose the current location, zoom level or anything.

Even the following kind of scenarios work flawlessly: I have foo.pdf open in Preview.app. I delete foo.pdf (e.g., using something like "make clean" or "rubber --clean" to get a fresh start). Preview.app is still happy, I can still read the latest version of the document. Then I re-create the file foo.pdf (e.g., using something like "make" or "rubber"). When I switch to Preview.app, it notices that the file has been re-created and automatically reloads it.

Regarding dvi files: do we really need those any more?-)

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PDF/PS

okular

  • open source
  • Linux/Unix
  • automatic reload on file change -> perfect for pdflatex runs!
  • great usability (e.g. automatic vertical mouse wrap around while scrolling)

  • consumes some memory to cache next page etc.

DVI

xdvi

  • some magnifying features via mouse available
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thanks for pointing out okular. looks good. –  Faheem Mitha Feb 14 '11 at 21:53
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