How can I have active hyperlinks in multipage beamer handouts?

So far, all \url{} and \href{} I have in my document work fine in the resulting PDF if I typeset in presentation mode, but as soon as I typeset in handout mode, all links are gone. I'd like them to be active even in the handout PDF.

It seems this is due to the \pgfpagesuselayout{} I'm using in handout mode (turning it off, and it works); is there a way to preserve hyperlinks here?

I also tried (unsuccessfully) to use pdfnup afterwards, but as it is basically using the same mechanism...

4 Answers 4


Looks like no, unless someone has a fix the author isn't aware of. From the Beamer manual, section 4.6.2 (Printing the Handout):

In such cases you can use the pgfpages package, which works directly with pdflatex, lualatex, xelatex and latex plus dvips. Note however that this package destroys hyperlinks. This is due to fundamental flaws in the PDF-specification and it is not likely to change.


This should in principle be possible by not employing the pgfpages package that ships with beamer, but the more generic (1) pdfpages package (note the pdf vs pgf in the package name) in conjuction with (2) pax. From the pdfpages documentation:

Links and other interactive features of PDF documents When including pages of a PDF only the so called content stream of these pages is copied but no links. Up to now there are no TeX-engines (pdfTeX, XeTeX, ...) available that can copy links or other interactive features of a PDF document, too. Thus, all kinds of links1 will get lost during inclusion. (Using \includepdf, \includegraphics, or other low-level commands.) However, there’s a gleam of hope. Some links may be extracted and later reinserted by a package called pax which can be downloaded from CTAN. Have a look at it!

pax is a combination of a Java tool to extract link information from the PDF you intend to embed and a package that reads in this information to restore the links into embedded PDF. It is still considered as experimental and I have not tried it. However, it is written by Heiko Oberdiek, so I would be optimistic that it works.

Basically, your process would be as follows:

  1. Generate the handout in 1x1 format, that is, without any pgfpages processing.
  2. Run the pax tool on the resulting PDF.
  3. Write an additional .tex-file that employs pdfpages to generate the 2x1 or 2x2 handout format from the 1x1 PDF and loads the pax package for link restoring.
  4. Let us know, if it works :-)
  • Thanks for the idea. I'll try (and document results) as soon as I have some spare time. But bear with me, semester has begun, and I'm late with my slides anyway ;-) Mar 15, 2012 at 13:13

Presently (april 2016) the links are shown in handouts: and they are somehow clickable. I usually put the links for my students on the bottom line of the slides. For some (to me) unknown reasons, when I hover in the empty area under the link, the mouse pointer change to a clickable item. And it actually opens the url.

My files are compiled on Mint 17.2 with:

pdfTeX, Version 3.14159265-2.6-1.40.16 (TeX Live 2015) (preloaded format=pdflatex 2015.12.22)  4 APR 2016 10:49
  • Are you sure they are the "right" links? In my handout version, there are some URLs which contain a link, but it's the link for some other URL in the file (on a different slide, even!). What a poor outcome!
    – CPBL
    Oct 20, 2016 at 13:43
  • Sorry for the delay. Yes, they were pointing to external sites such as wikipedia and others. But for some reasons they are no longer working after one year on Mint 17.3 and texlive 2016. No matter how long or where you are hovering your pointer.
    – Ottorino
    Apr 26, 2017 at 5:51

A link to a web page (made using href) in a 4 on 1 handout seems to work with SumatraPDF version 3.1.2, but not with Adobe Reader version 11.0.20. (Windows 7 and MikTeX.)

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