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comment Sweave, how to suppress opening new instance of a pdf when running pdflatex
It does still try the list of fixed known viewers though, so the solution to just set ess-pdf-viewer-pref won't stop a pdf viewer from being opened when you do a M-n P. Your solution worked for the questioner because s/he was using SumatraPDF and doens't have one of the "fixed known viewers" installed. I'm also using ESS version 12.09-2 and, for reference, that list of fixed known viewers is evince, kpdf, okular, xpdf, acroread, and xdg-open.