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).

  • It'd be nice to have one program listed per answer. (And I suppose the [pdf] and [dvi] tags could go.)
    – David Z
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 7:35
  • 1
    What about including Postscript viewers in this question?
    – Stefan Kottwitz
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 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. Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 13:46
  • Afaik, there is only one platform (Windows) that in some previewers forces you to close the PDF before rerunning. Commented Aug 22, 2010 at 7:38

13 Answers 13


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.

  • 1
    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? Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 12:24
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    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. Commented Aug 23, 2010 at 1:25


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
    • llpp
  • zathura
  • xpdf is really great. Sometimes the fonts are rendered better in evince, though. Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 8:59
  • I like its key shortcuts.
    – Leo Liu
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 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
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 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). Commented Aug 29, 2010 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
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 4:21

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)



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.


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.

  • 1
    Evince can also view dvi files.
    – Caramdir
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 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 Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 21:55
  • @Faheem: Preview.app in Mac OS X.
    – TH.
    Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 4:06
  • Ok. This is different from the one in Debian? Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 22:08
  • @Faheem: Almost certainly.
    – TH.
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 22:12

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)
  • what specifically does 'nicer output' mean?
    – Mohan
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 22:38

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.

  • Some editors (TexnicCenter, AFAIR) support closing and reopening the file even if the PDF reader itself does not allow simply refreshing it. Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 14:14
  • Yes, but that's a clunky way of doing things.
    – Mephisto
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 14:40
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    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). Commented Aug 22, 2010 at 7:36

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?-)



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.




  • open source
  • Linux/Unix
  • automatic reload on file change -> perfect for pdflatex runs!
  • great usability (e.g. automatic vertical mouse wrap around while scrolling)
  • supports backward and forward sync with editor (at least if you use Kile)
  • can also open .dvi and postscript files, with ghostscript backend

  • consumes some memory to cache next page etc. (but memory usage can be configured depending on how greedy or parsimonious you want it to be)



  • some magnifying features via mouse available

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
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 15:27
  • @frabjous: Very interesting! I'll definitely take a look. Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 18:13

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 :) Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 9:02

TeXShop is a Mac OS X (La)TeX editor with its own integrated PDF-viewer, which allows source-preview synchronization. I'm quite happy with it.

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