I'm new to Emacs and AUCTeX. On my home computer (with Windows XP) I can successfully compile .tex files and then, using C-c C-c again, launch a pdf viewer (Adobe Reader or Sumatra) to view the file.

However, on my work computer (Windows 7), I can successfully compile a .tex file to pdf using C-c C-c, but when I do C-c C-c again to view, the default view command that appears is start "" "a.pdf". Pressing Enter brings up the Windows error message Windows cannot find 'a.pdf'. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again. If I change the command so that it includes the full location of the file, e.g. start "" "//servername/mark/a.pdf", then the pdf viewer opens. At home, there is no need to change the default command start "" "a.pdf".

I'd appreciate if anyone can tell me how to get the pdf viewer to open without having to edit the command each time. At work I have AUCTeX version 11.86.

2 Answers 2


Your default PDF-viewer is controlled by two variables called TeX-view-program-list and TeX-view-program-selection. There are several ways of modifying these:

Through the Emacs's interface

M-x customize-group <RET>

Select the group called: Tex Command then find TeX View. Under TeX View Program List is all the list of known commands for viewing your generated pdf. In my case I use SumatraPDF.exe which I also have in my global PATH variable. Insert following:

Name: SumatraPDF
Command: SumatraPDF.exe %o

Under TeX View Program Selection the default viewer for pdf and dvi can be selected. Select the previously defined SumatraPDF.

Inserting setup in .emacs

Just insert following code in your .emacs configuration file:

(setq TeX-output-view-style '("^pdf$" "." "SumatraPDF.exe %o"))

(setq TeX-view-program-list
      '(("SumatraPDF" "SumatraPDF.exe %o")
 ((eq system-type 'windows-nt)
  (add-hook 'LaTeX-mode-hook
            (lambda ()
              (setq TeX-view-program-selection '((output-pdf "SumatraPDF")
                                                 (output-dvi "Yap"))))))

 ((eq system-type 'gnu/linux)
  (add-hook 'LaTeX-mode-hook
            (lambda ()
              (setq TeX-view-program-selection '((output-pdf "Okular")
                                                 (output-dvi "Okular")))))))

If you don't use SumatraPDF (I really recommend you do), then change the name and command. Remember to have your pdf-viewer in your PATH or refer directly to it through the full path.

  • Thanks for your reply, but it didn't work. My problem doesn't seem to be in specifying the pdf viewer to be used, rather it is in specifying the location of the pdf file to be viewed. If I change the default command start "" "a.pdf" to start "" "//servername/mark/a.pdf" then it works with both Acrobat and Sumatra. What I'd like to know is how to get Emacs/AUCTeX to look for the pdf file in the same directory as the .tex file.
    – mark999
    Commented May 22, 2012 at 0:41

I had the same issue under Windows 7 and i accidentally found out a while ago that editing start "" "a.pdf" manually into start "a.pdf" opens Sumatra PDF correctly. Following the beginning of the other answer, i figured out that i can solve the issue permanently by changing the corresponding command under Tex Output View Style, Extension ^pdf$, accordingly from start "" %o to start %o. You find the option Tex Output View Style by starting with

M-x customize-group <RET> 

and selecting the group Tex Command.

  • Thanks for the reply, but it didn't work. When I use start "a.pdf" instead of start "" "a.pdf", it opens another window with a command prompt (like a "DOS prompt"). I just open the pdf file manually, which I don't really mind.
    – mark999
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 5:43

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