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Most of the time when presenting a talk people connect their laptop to a video projector. So they effectively have an extra screen at their disposal. Because of that many Software options for presentations use the extra screen of the laptop to display notes, time left for the talk, a preview of the next slide and such information to the presenter.

I'm using LaTeX-Beamer which outputs a pdf. I'd like to have notes, a preview of the next slide and the time I have left for my talk displayed to me on the laptop screen, while the projector shows the regular presentation slides.

Ideally this program should work under Linux (Ubuntu 12.04). Does such a program exist?

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Interesting question: it seems that for Okular, this is a feature request that has been accepted: bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=152585 I guess it is worth monitoring that. – mSSM Nov 28 '12 at 11:40
Did you check Section 22 of the Beamer User Guide ("Taking Advantage of Multiple Screens")? I haven't tried it, but it seems to address exactly your request. – vaettchen Nov 28 '12 at 11:42
IIRC the beamer manual explains how to set up for dual screen presentations. In my documentation it's explained in Section 19.3. Also see this PracTeX journal article. – Marc van Dongen Nov 28 '12 at 11:43
Okay I found the package pdf-presenter-console which is worth a look. It has the timer thingy and a preview of the next slide. It does not display notes. – con-f-use Nov 28 '12 at 11:47
Maybe impressive is an option. It has a timer and an overview page, but it doesn't support an extra screen for notes. – maetra Nov 28 '12 at 13:26
up vote 70 down vote accepted

So pdfpc on github (which is a forked and improved version of the pdf-presenter-console) is the closest thing I found.


It has all the features I looked for. Regular slides on the projector, view of the next slide and the current one on the laptop. It pre-caches the slides for fast switch and can provide an overview with thumbnails for each slide (quick selection). It also plays videos. With the n one can edit notes that are stored in a textfile in the same directory as the PDF, or it can show beamer slides on the side screen.


To use, one has to invoke pdfpc with a PDF file like this in terminal:

pdfpc presentation.pdf

Of course once can add it to the list of applications to open pdfs with in your file-manager to make it easier. There command line options to interchange screens, set the timer hand have it coutn down instead of up.

The rest is straight forward and documented in the man pages. Ubuntu man-pages are outdated so one should consult the man pages on the site. I made request for importing LaTeX-Beamer notes.

The latest version (4.0 and up) supports LaTeX-Beamer notes. Just use --notes={left,right,top,bottom} to match the setting in your "beamer" document:

\setbeameroption{show notes}
\setbeameroption{show notes on second screen=right}

With the above, you would use --notes=right.

Installation / Compilation

For Windows PCs it might be a pain in the rear to compile, since the requirements state:

  • Vala Compiler Version >=0.11.0
  • Gnu compiler collection
  • CMake Version >=2.6
  • Gtk+ 2.x
  • libPoppler with glib bindings

Which is a handful to install and get running. For Ubuntu Install pdf-presenter-console and other Debian users it's a piece of cake as there are packages in the repositories.

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In fact pdfpc is a fork of pdf-presenter-console with more possibilities, not just a new version. – Carsten Thiel Nov 29 '12 at 10:43
this! Notes and video support make it the best viewer – jens_bo Dec 2 '12 at 21:34
Unfortunately, advanced pdf-features such as ogc or fancytooltips are not supported by pdfpc, even though its pdf-engine supports javascript which is used by fancytooltips. – maetra Dec 5 '12 at 9:41
This looks interesting, but I have serious problems with dependencies, probably due to naming discrepancies among different linux distributions. It would be nice to have it packaged on launchpad. – qed Aug 27 '13 at 12:56
@qed: It is packaged as pdf-presenter-console in the default Debian/Ubuntu archives. The package name is misleading, but this really installs David Vilar's fork (version 3.x), at least on the more recent versions of Debian/Ubuntu. – krlmlr Oct 2 '13 at 13:18

In case you're still interested, I have written a small viewing application in C++, called "dspdfviewer" for "Dual-Screen PDF Viewer".

Its built specifically for latex-beamer, and it's "show notes on second screen" option. This latex-beamer option will give you a double-width PDF, where the right part are your beamer-notes, and the right part can include a small preview of the current/next page. Check out the beamerguide for details. Only, I did not find a viewing application to correctly display those kinds of PDFs.

My program splits the PDF file in half and renders the left half in fullscreen on the "primary" screen (intended for the audience) and the second half together with some timers on the "secondary" screen (your notebook for example).

It currently works with Debian wheezy, and Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric) and newer.

You can download it for Ubuntu on the ppa https://launchpad.net/~dannyedel/+archive/dspdfviewer

The sourcecode is available at https://github.com/dannyedel/dspdfviewer, and the documentation is available as man page (included in the deb packages as "man dspdfviewer").

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I will give it a try as soon as I have to give my next talk. Thanks alot. Boy solutions may be hard to find but they are good an numerous. – con-f-use Nov 29 '12 at 16:29
This sounds exactly like what I was looking for. I will give it a try. – Thomas Arildsen Dec 1 '12 at 22:07
Can it play embedded javascript movies? – daaxix Nov 3 '15 at 4:05
It is not able to play external media files whose links are embedded in some frame. Impressive work though. – Diaa Abidou 2 days ago

I tested only a few minutes, but it is worth to take a look to

Impressive - Is a presentation program that displays slideshows of image files (JPEG, PNG, TIFF and BMP) or PDF documents. Rendering is done via OpenGL, which allows for some "eye candy" effects.

Installation is simply apt-get install impressive in Debian based distributions. Complete features are better explained in impressive -h,man impressive and impressive /usr/share/doc/impressive/demo.pdf but off the top of my head there are options for automatically advance, show timer an progress bar, control display aspect ratio, background rendering (by default active), cache modes, rotating, scaling and shuffling pages, use a custom cursor, make transitions, etc.

I have found mostly interesting the possibility of highlight boxes with the mouse during the presentation and even save and restore this for a second session as well as the spot light mode (a highlight circle around the mouse) and the overview mode (with Tab to quickly select a thumbnail with the mouse) , but you can also include options to include sound and videos, adjust gamma and black level with options or sort keys, mark pages with the skip flag, etc.

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There are even scripts to generate the .info files from beamer documents. – Martin Schröder Feb 4 '13 at 9:55
Remember: To show the slides properly impressive assumes that both screens have the same resolution! Otherwise the depiction is corrupted. – user1146332 Jun 25 '14 at 7:40
There are definitely some cool effects in Impressive, but unfortunately there is not a true presenter console or notes option and no plans to implement these features. The presenter console and notes features from pdfpc and the rendering from Impressive would be a fantastic combo! – cheflo May 22 at 15:25

Browsing around this morning, I came across pympress. I have not tried it yet myself, but it looks like it might do what you want.

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Hey Thomas, thank you. Wow pdfpc and pympress are really similar. I still favour pdfpc as it can handle notes and pre-caches the slides for smooth transition. – con-f-use Nov 29 '12 at 10:55

To my opinion, dspdfviewer is currently the best choice to be used with latex beamer and notes on a second screen under linux. It covers all features requested by the initial question. I tested it and it works very well, even with different resolutions. Many thanks to Danny Edel.

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Voting is the recommended way of saying thanks, and adding a "thanks" comment is also possible (especially if you want to add some information to the answer). On the other hand, "thank you" answers are to be avoided, because they mean mixing actual, useful content (the answers) with noise. – T. Verron Nov 20 '14 at 13:55

There is also slider which is designed to be lightweight and specialised. It is designed to allow the use of notes on a second screen etc. Since it is relatively new, it may be worth watching even if a feature you need isn't yet currently implemented. (It has changed quite a lot since I started playing with it.)

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My favorite pdf reader is Mupdf: (1) Firstly, the rendering of the popler-engine used in most pdf-viewers is horribly and mupdf's rendering is far superior (2) it's the reference pdf-viewer from ghostscript project

(3) Is quite easy to use it just with a keyboard (what makes the mupdf-pdf-viewer (and onmupdf based reader)) great for presentations

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