236

Every second e-mail I get suggests to download Adobe Acrobat reader, but adobe.com doesn’t provide a Linux version.

Which PDF Viewer are there available for Ubuntu?
I’m fine with partial solutions, a perfect match however would not only display PDF files, but also be able to:

  • stageless zoom (not just predefined steps)
  • open files in tabs
  • display comments added with other PDF software
  • add and save comments
  • display forms filled in with other PDF software
  • fill in and save PDF forms
  • create and save bookmarks
  • have a presentation mode
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  • 41
    I often find these questions very useful. Just because it is not a clear cut answer I don't think they need to be closed. Its hard to give an unbiased opinion but you often get a quick survey with such type of Q&A.
    – simgineer
    Jul 1 '15 at 23:25
  • 5
    Maybe move to the software recommendation forum instead of closing? May 23 '16 at 13:32
  • 2
    Pdf.js works fine in Firefox. I was able to view and print document in Russian language which used Microsoft fonts. I was not able to do same from other viewers native viewers. Sep 13 '16 at 15:10
  • 6
    Please stop closing questions as non-constructive, if they get hundreds of upvotes.
    – Dr_Zaszuś
    Dec 21 '17 at 10:39
  • Foxit is a good and feature-rich PDF reader. Moreover Foxit is available for Windows too. You can connect the software to the cloud to sync your changes to a document accross multiple devices, be it Windows or Ununtu. I'd suggest going with it. You can download it from the official website: foxitsoftware.com/downloads If you need help installing it, here's a guide that might help: ubuntuhandbook.org/index.php/2015/09/… Hope it helps.
    – xeon
    Feb 20 '18 at 18:26

12 Answers 12

132

Lightweight

  • evince - the default document viewer on Gnome/Ubuntu, with support for PDF, PostScript, and a few other formats. Can fill forms, highlight text, and annotate. Normal text selection. Remembers window size and document zoom. Dark mode. [install]

  • qpdfview (see answer) - tabbed interface, can fill forms, remembers window size and document zoom. Block selection by holding Shift. [install]

  • MuPDF - extremely fast and minimalistic. Block selection by dragging with the right mouse button, search with /. Can't annotate, fill forms, sign, or anything else. Doesn't remember the zoom factor, or the window size/position. [install]

  • Zathura - extremely fast and minimalistic (uses the MuPDF ending via a plugin system). Keyboard-navigation, bookmarks, auto-reload on changes. Block selection by dragging with the left mouse button. No form filling or other features. Doesn't remember the zoom factor, or the window size/position. [install]

  • xpdf - "Xpdf is a small and efficient program which uses standard X fonts". Lightweight, but with outdated interface. [install]

  • gv - an old lightweight pdf viewer with an old interface. Size of the package is only 580k. gv is an X front-end for the Ghostscript PostScript(TM) interpreter. [install]

Full-featured

  • okular - Multi-format document viewer (PDF, CHM, ePub, others). Requires many KDE prerequisites. Can easily copy text and images. May be slow and have issues with printing. [install]

  • Browsers like Firefox and Chromium derivatives also have great support for PDF viewing and form filling, but no support for annotations or signatures.

Non-FOSS

  • Foxit Reader - View, create, convert, annotate, print, collaborate, share, fill forms and sign.

  • PDF Studio Viewer - free version can annotate, fill&save forms. Paid versions can sign, OCR, split/merge/insert/remove/rotate pages, add watermarks/header/footer/bookmarks, edit, redact, compare, optimize, batch process etc.

  • Master PDF Editor - View, create, modify, fill forms, sign, scan, OCR, annotate, split/insert/remove/rotate pages, add bookmarks. Free version allows editing text and objects, annotating, and filling forms.

Unsupported/outdated

  • kpdf - Extremely outdated (2008) PDF viewer based on xpdf, for KDE 3. [install]
  • acroread - Adobe Acrobat Reader, no longer supported for Linux by Adobe, seems to be no longer supported by Ubuntu.
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    Imho the list is useless without description what product has which benefit. For example xpdf loads pretty fast and allows to mark columnwise for copying content. Apr 7 '12 at 21:50
  • 5
    evince sucks. Try searching some words in it and you'll see it eating upto 1 GB memory.
    – xyres
    Dec 9 '15 at 16:20
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    okular allows you to zoom at 1600%. Great for inspecting graphics.
    – Raffi
    Mar 15 '16 at 14:40
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    I tried xpdf - it displayed then dumped core. Then tried evince which couldn't find files it was looking for and didn't display anything other that messages to stderr. Then tried gv which worked fine. Give me old that works to new that doesn't any day of the week.
    – Tom Ekberg
    May 16 '16 at 14:47
  • 1
    At least Foxit Reader, Master PDF, lately Okular DO provide advanced capabilities.
    – cipricus
    Jan 20 '20 at 8:27
97

In my opinion, qpdfview is the best PDF viewer for Ubuntu. Some of its attractive features are:

  • Fast opening of PDF files.
  • Great rendering of graphics.
  • Low memory consumption.
  • Tab browsing.
  • Annotations.
  • Support RTL (Right-to-Left) language with dual page view.

qpdfview can be installed from the official repositories with the command

sudo apt install qpdfview

It is also available via a Launchpad ppa.

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    This one gets my vote for not only being incredibly customizable, but especially for offering an outline of the PDF chapters on the left. A side panel of links to the various chapters in the PDF, that is. OS X's default PDF reader does this, and I wanted it on Linux. i.imgur.com/vnslr3J.png
    – badteeth
    Apr 14 '15 at 13:26
  • 2
    The best imo too. It's fast, there are plenty of shortcuts and they're quick to setup, it uses tabs, supports annotations and links to pages (e.g. from the index to the beginning of a chapter). For highlights and annotations I use PDF XChange Editor under Wine, but for reading this one's a very good all-arounder. I've tried also Evince, Okular, xpdf, MuPDF and Zathura but none of these I've found as complete and fast as qpdf (even though I liked Zathura..). Thanks for the suggestion! Oct 3 '15 at 10:22
  • Very good one, but it misses an important feature when working with big pdfs: Find with whole-word-only option. AFAIK, Only FoxitReader has it, but unfortunately it is quite bad on many other points.
    – calandoa
    Apr 6 '16 at 12:36
  • I was using Foxit, it is pretty powerful, but it shows super big bold font on a pdf file I am reading and I could not find a way to change the text font size (Since we are not supposed to change the font size in pdf files anyway). The qpdfview works fine on that file. Thanks for your suggestion.
    – r0ng
    Oct 11 '17 at 22:21
  • 4
    To select text in qpdfview you have to hold SHIFT. While selecting text, no (temporary) highlighting occurs, only a bounding box appears. Other than this, it seems good. Mar 16 '18 at 15:41
62

I'm going to mention some lesser-known options: MuPDF and Zathura.

These are not feature rich, but they are super-fast, lightweight, and keyboard-driven. It's hard to believe how fast MuPDF is.

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    Unfortunately Linux "community" still didn't pick up MuPDF render engine to make fast and modern PDF viewer interface on top of it like Windows "community" did - SumatraPDF
    – zetah
    Dec 16 '11 at 23:59
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    MuPDF is really fast! Mar 23 '14 at 15:30
  • 4
    I had to see how fast is MuPDF, and it is pretty much instant. Very impressive. Thanks for the suggestion.
    – nana
    Nov 1 '14 at 19:41
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    Zathura shines for those, who like vim-like key-binding. It took me a year to find it. Apr 10 '15 at 17:07
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    If anyone else is looking for a PDF viewer for opening large graphics/scientific plots, I have had a much better experience with PDF-XChange and Sumatra via wine than with mupdf or zathura. I tested this with a ~3 MB file with thousands of individual objects (many scatter plots). For the linux native viewers, okular was the fastest ahead of qpdfview and the refreshed evince. Still, nothing comes close to Sumatra in speed, and you can run the portable version directly via wine, highly recommended! May 23 '16 at 13:32
34

Try okular. It's a KDE/Qt application, and it has some of the most awesome features of any reader.

5
  • 46
    It will also install a bunch of dependency of KDE.....
    – Ravi
    Apr 17 '12 at 14:20
  • That's right, but if you have or plan to have other KDE apps (and there are good ones) they will be needed anyway. And okular is so much better than evince (what cannot be?) that it's worth it! May 31 '14 at 9:29
  • it is too slow while opening and scrolling big pdfs, finally i had to shift to qpdfviwer
    – Nithin
    Aug 13 '16 at 11:10
  • Not great for printing, though: askubuntu.com/q/1222090/457111
    – Wildcard
    Apr 20 '20 at 1:54
  • It's not supporting GTK3/4 and I hate it for that!
    – Am.Shekari
    Sep 17 at 11:48
23

Google Chrome can render PDFs, has a zoom feature, and you might already have it installed.

I have seen some PDFs that give evince trouble (large sections of the document will be blacked out), but Chrome displays them just fine.

7
16

Foxit is a free PDF document viewer for the Linux platform, with a new streamlined interface, user-customized toolbar, incredibly small size, breezing-fast launch speed and rich features. This empowers PDF document users with Zoom function, Navigation function, Bookmarks, Thumbnails, Text Selection Tool, Snapshot, and Full Screen capabilities.

6
  • Very fast viewer which I am using on Windows desktops at university.
    – Vincenzo
    Dec 22 '10 at 19:52
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    Not as good as windows version.
    – user
    May 2 '11 at 12:07
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    Unfortunately the last version 1.1 (as of 2013-08-08) was released in 2009-08-13. foxitsoftware.com/company/…
    – pabouk
    Aug 8 '13 at 10:50
  • But it's still faster than some of linux viewers (on large pages)
    – Gtx
    Mar 7 '16 at 14:54
  • 2
    The Linux version doesn't have full screen mode somehow :-/ The Windows one does Jun 19 '16 at 21:55
5

Firefox

As of Ubuntu 18.04, Firefox 62 is, in my opinion, the best PDF viewer available on Linux.

It's PDF support is based on the PDF.js project which is maintained by Mozilla itself and integrated in to Firefox out-of-the-box.

Firefox comes pre-installed on Ubuntu 18.04, which makes it specially convenient.

You can open a PDF simply as:

firefox ~/path/to/my.pdf

and it opens the PDF on a tab in the browser.

Or it will open by default if you click a PDF web link with Firefox.

Opening new documents on tabs is great, as it makes it easier to switch between multiple documents, given Ubuntu's clunky tab switching.

Furthermore, as in most browsers, you can start writing the document name on the address bar to find it easily with auto-complete.

As a test case, test it out with the humongous 5k page Intel x86 manual:

enter image description here

I consider Firefox the best due to the unacceptable downsides of other viewers I've tried so far for reading technical documents:

Other more acceptable viewers with less important downsides:

  • Okular:
    • Ubuntu 20.10/Okular 20.8: they broke the back button... Document Viewer (Evince) history navigation
    • on 16.04 clicking on internal PDF links did not work. Fixed on 18.04, but my trust was lost.
    • requires downloading a lot of KDE stuff, but that's OK
    • jump to previous page default shortcut is Alt-Shift-Left instead of the saner Alt-Left :-) Haha, I'm OK, this is just a pet peeve.
4

Nobody mentioned wine + PDF-XChange Viewer? This is a great solution if you want to annotate pdf files under Linux. Detailed discussion can be found here on gnurou.org or here on blogspot.com.

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  • 1
    i use wine+foxit . that works great too. in my experience foxit handles annotations in some scanned+OCRred PDFs better. Jun 19 '14 at 15:48
  • It seems to me like I can't use the printer's advanced properties (e.g. fold the booklets for me) with wine. Something something driver. ?
    – lucidbrot
    Sep 22 '20 at 13:23
  • This is Windows-only, right? The link is now dead. Jan 23 at 0:25
  • @DanDascalescu: PDF-XChange is Windows-only, thus comes Wine for the "rescue". The original link is indeed dead now. I find a new site hosting the article.
    – HongboZhu
    Jan 24 at 21:31
1

PDF Studio Viewer is a free PDF reader for Linux. It's easy to install as it is packaged as a single file with no dependencies, etc.... It has advanced viewing options (pan and zoom, screenshot, rulers & grids, thumbnail tab, digital signature tabs, bookmark tab, layer tab), printing options (preview, booklet) and search options (search within fields, annotations, recursively into folders, etc..). It can annotate PDF documents with graphical, text and markup annotations. It can fill & save interactive forms.

1

Unfortunately, all of the PDF readers I've tested on Linux lack fundamental functionalities, which is rather frustrating if you are a feature-dependent user.

Hence, instead of giving you several alternatives that you will end up finding a limitation, I will point out the drawbacks of each PDF reader I've tested so far to keep you from wasting time.

  1. Foxit Reader - This is by far the best solution you could find on Linux (it was the solution that I used the most). However, by my experience (on Ubuntu 20.04 focal), this program is ridiculously buggy. This application will freeze or even break a lot of times until you get sick of it. You can find some bug references here, here, and here
  2. MasterPDF - This one came across a good solution. It has a lot of features that I can have imagined, from highlights, bookmarks to tabs view. However, if you use premium features, you will get a disgusting watermark when you save it if you don't get the paid version. If you are up to pay, it is worth it because you probably won't find a better solution.
  3. evince - It doesn't have the feature of adding a bookmark. Furthermore, it doesn't have tabs function as well as other basic functionalities, such as setting the default highlight color.
  4. qupdf - The highlight function is rather limiting. You cannot select the text. Instead, you must "highlight an area", which can bother you, depending on your pdf type.
  5. MuPDF - You can't make annotations. I think this argument is enough.
  6. Okular - It doesn't have the tabs feature. If you need to handle a dozen of pdf, like me, it will be a nuisance.

PS1: I do not take through each program. Maybe some of these functionalities are present, and I didn't set them up correctly.

PS2: I will edit this post as I test more PDF readers.

0
0

Many of the 32-bit dependencies needed by Adobe's 9.5.5 reader are not available In Ubuntu 18.10 or newer. Getting it working involves a very tedious process of identifying the needed files and importing them from an 18.04 installation's i386-linux-gnu directories into the corresponding places in the newer installation. I've done this on Ubuntu Studio 19.10 and 3 instances of Kubuntu 19.10 with mixed results (on one of the Kubuntu installs, it throws undefined symbol errors). I have yet to try it with the the advanced function I want to use it for (booklet printing).

-5

Try Adobe's own Adobe Reader 9

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  • 1
    Adobes acrobat is very good on linux though, it even has tabs!
    – RolandiXor
    Dec 22 '10 at 15:19
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    It's incredibly, almost unbelievably slow.
    – frabjous
    Dec 22 '10 at 21:51
  • 1
    It's also 32-bit only and unlikely to ever be updated again by Adobe.
    – pgoetz
    Aug 27 '15 at 11:24

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