I have emacs23 and AucTeX installed on my Ubuntu system. I would like to change the default pdf viewer in emacs and enable forward and inverse search. How do I do it?

I would like to share my knowledge and experience with emacs by posting an answer.I have done the following for only keyboard shortcuts. I would be happy if it is extended to such a way that, if I double click my source in emacs, my pdf gets generated (forward search) and when I double click on some text in the pdf, it gets to the approximate location in the source(backward search). It's really awesome, requires less space and the best editor I have ever worked with.

2 Answers 2


This procedure will set up Emacs, AUCTeX, and the Okular viewer to handle integrated forward and inverse search. (These instructions were tested on a Debian system)

  1. Install Emacs. To install Emacs, open up the terminal and type the command:

    sudo apt-get install emacs
  2. Install AUCTeX.

    Within Emacs, run M-x package install RET auctex RET.

    To test for a successful installation, just open up a .tex file Emacs with and you will see new menus concerning LaTeX.

    enter image description here

  3. Install Okular.

    sudo apt-get install okular
  4. If not already done, open a tex file with emacs.

  5. In the LaTeX menu, go to "Customize AUCTeX" and click on "Extend this menu".
  6. Then go again to LaTeX, "Customize AUCTeX", go to the "Tex Command" submenu and click on the included "Tex command" item.
  7. From within Emacs, run

    M-x customize-group RET TeX-command RET

    You are now in the "Tex command group" configuration buffer. Scroll down until you reach "Tex Pdf Mode". Its value is off (nil); click on the "Toggle" button to activate this mode. Click on the "State" button and select "Save for Future Sessions". AUCTeX will now compile your TeX file using pdflatex.

    You should see something like this: enter image description here

    For the "Save for Future Sessions", the button with the green down arrow can also be selected. When this is done, your .emacs will be updated accordingly.

    enter image description here

  8. Still in the "Tex command group" configuration buffer, scroll all the way down and click on the special item called "Tex View". In the "Tex view group" buffer, you have two things to do:

    • activate the correlate mode between the PDF and the TeX file, and
    • declare a PDF viewer which can read these correlations.
  9. To activate the correlate mode:

    1. item "Tex Source Correlate Method", click on the "Value Menu" button and select "synctex" and save for future sessions,
    2. item "Tex Source Correlate Start Server", select "Always" and save,
    3. item "Tex Source Correlate Mode", toggle it on and save.
  10. To set Okular as the default PDF viewer:

    1. (NOTE: this is necessary only if you are using AUCTeX 11.87 or lower, in which case you really should upgrade the package to a more recent version) item Tex View Program List then click INS
      • name: Okular
      • choice: Command
      • command: okular --unique %o#src:%n%b
    2. item Tex View Program Selection then click INS

      • choice: Single predicate
      • single predicate: output-pdf
      • viewer: Okular

        If you just added Okular to the Tex View Program List, this choice might not appear. Restart Emacs or Set for Current Session to have it show up.

  11. Set and save both for future sessions.

  12. To configure Okular: in the Okular window, go to the "Settings" menu, item "Configure Okular", "Editor", select Emacs client.

  13. To use Forward search from Emacs to Okular, just hit C-c C-v or click on the glasses button of the tool-bar to call the viewer. Okular will center its display on the intended line of the pdf.

  14. To use Inverse search from Okular to Emacs, make sure that the Browse Tool (in the Tools menu of Okular) is enabled; then just hit Shift+Left mouse click on the pdf. Emacs will come up and position the cursor at the intended line of the TeX source.

As a sidenote, AUCTeX can also jump-to errors generated in the log file with a C-c `. If this keystroke throws an error, see Uninformative error message when using AUCTeX for an Emacs-based (i.e. cross-platform, works with the major distributions) solution.

  • 1
    Actually it isn't necessary to edit a system file to get the file:line:error style messages, see tex.stackexchange.com/a/124259/31416
    – giordano
    Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 13:58
  • @giordano Good resource. Unfortunately that part of the answer wasn't exactly related to the question at all, so I struck it out; do you think it should be put back in? Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 14:14
  • @SeanAllred I haven't a strong opinion about it. It's true that it wasn't explicitly requested in the answer but it could be a useful extra.
    – giordano
    Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 14:34
  • @SeanAllred I agree with giordano, the error styling would make emacs a completed editor for LaTeX and I would recommend to add the answer provided by giordano because in my answer,because editing the system file might be troublesome sometimes Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 14:48
  • 1
    @subhamsoni I will note that the solution linked to by giordano was successful for me (I was actually having the same problem but was far too lazy to research it). A link to this answer is certainly appropriate. Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 14:56

Following subham soni's instructions will add the following lines to your .emacs

 ;; custom-set-variables was added by Custom.
 ;; If you edit it by hand, you could mess it up, so be careful.
 ;; Your init file should contain only one such instance.
 ;; If there is more than one, they won't work right.
 '(TeX-source-correlate-method (quote synctex))
 '(TeX-source-correlate-mode t)
 '(TeX-source-correlate-start-server t)
 '(TeX-view-program-list (quote (("Okular" "okular --unique %o#src:%n%b"))))
 '(TeX-view-program-selection (quote ((engine-omega "dvips and gv") (output-dvi "xdvi") (output-pdf "Okular") (output-html "xdg-open")))))
 ;; custom-set-faces was added by Custom.
 ;; If you edit it by hand, you could mess it up, so be careful.
 ;; Your init file should contain only one such instance.
 ;; If there is more than one, they won't work right.
  • 1
    You must still do step 12 of subham soni's answer, to setup things on Okular.
    – Sav-econ
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 23:23
  • That may be true, but I found that for Evince it's sufficient to just paste the above code. Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 3:30

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