I am satisfied with basic functionality of Evince (3.4.0 on Ubuntu 12.04). Unfortunately in this viewer I am really missing history navigation i.e. possibility to go back to previous views and optionally go forward in the viewing history like most of the web browsers have Alt+ and Alt+. I think this function is very important when using hyperlinks and searching during browsing.

For Evince I did not find this function on the standard keyboard shortcuts, in the menu, in the documentation.

Does Evince have this function and how can it be used?

Which other PDF viewers maintained for Ubuntu have this function?

  • You want to click on a link which takes you to another part of the same pdf file and then navigate back to where you were? I just looked at the pdf viewers that are part of Firefox and Chrome. Looks like they don't have this feature either. Or if they do, I didn't come across it. Would be a handy feature to have.
    – user25656
    Aug 8, 2013 at 11:57
  • @vasa1: Yes, this is the most frequent use case - to return to the link. Also sometimes when I use search I would like to return to the original location later. I know that Adobe Reader for Windows has this function but I would prefer using a more lightweight viewer. Aug 8, 2013 at 12:08

5 Answers 5


As of Evince 3.32, the key bindings are Alt + P and Alt + N. I cannot find the toolbar button anymore.

Reference: https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/evince/issues/770

  • 1
    Thanks. I just found it listed under the new Keyboard Shortcuts menu option after clicking the "Hamburger" button. It also indicates there that <kbd>Back</kbd> and <kbd>Forward</kbd> can be used, but I can't see these on my keyboard.
    – user643722
    Jun 3, 2020 at 10:41
  • Can these be mapped to Alt + -> and Alt + <-?
    – khatchad
    Apr 8, 2021 at 21:13

Under Evince 3.4 you can activate a "back" button by editing the toolbar (EditToolbar; drag and drop functions to toolbar):

enter image description here

I don't think there's any hotkey by default but you might be able to add a custom one.

If you're looking for customization you might be better off with a PDF viewer like Okular or qpdfview anyway. Both should offer the function you're searching for.

  • 1
    Thank you! The back button has a different behaviour in comparison to page history in web browsers but it is very useful. Unfortunately the procedure for adding keyboard shortcuts works for menu items only. I will test the two recommended viewers. Aug 9, 2013 at 14:58
  • 1
    Thanks for mentioning qpdfview! It allows setting the page background color. That's a feature I was missing.
    – user25656
    Sep 5, 2013 at 10:44
  • 4
    qpdfview is great, but it doesn't have smooth scrolling like evince (3.10) has. How can one browse history with evince 3.10? Edit->Toolbar does not exist any more.
    – Bach
    Apr 25, 2015 at 13:50
  • 6
    I don't think the back button is available in Evince 3.10
    – a06e
    May 27, 2015 at 18:10
  • 6
    I see no back button in 3.18.2.
    – Daniel
    Nov 24, 2016 at 10:04

Ubuntu 20.10

Things have flipped around now, it's so much fun:

I'll still go crazy one of these days.

I've made a minimal test file for this now: https://github.com/cirosantilli/media/blob/master/multipage_refs/multipage_refs.pdf

Annoying Evince history bugs

These have haunted me for years, including Ubuntu 18.04, Evince 3.28.2, and make the history jump back feature unusable for the technical documents I read all day:

You should go and upvote them.

Best solution I've found for Ubuntu 20.04

Use Okular. It has a default jump at Alt + Shift + Left/Right, and other key features like searching in the Table of Contents (or at least has them in a place I can easily find).

Best solution I've found for Ubuntu 18.04

Use Firefox!: What PDF viewers are available for Ubuntu? Okular was buggy there too, I forgot why now.

  • Alt + P or N works for me in Ubuntu 22.04
    – Ralph
    Mar 1, 2023 at 5:09

I prefer the xpdf viewer for this reason. It has history navigation and is quite lightweight and rapid. It is available for ~any system running X11.


At present (Ubuntu 18.04; Linuxmint 19.1) Xreader (version 2.0.2) offers functionality go back and forward in the viewing history.

  • Xreader has own bugs, like accidental autoscrolling(I tried every pdf reader like atril, evince, xreader, qv) Apr 11, 2021 at 11:30

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