Linux Tactic

Exploring the Best Free PDF Viewers for Linux and Web Browsers

PDF viewers are essential software for many users who work with electronic documents. The PDF file format is widely used for sharing information, carrying a document’s layout and formatting regardless of the operating system or software used.

While many operating systems come with a pre-installed PDF viewer, such as macOS’ Preview or Windows’ Edge, users on Linux have more freedom to choose from a range of available options. In this article, we’ll explore some of the free and open-source PDF viewers available for Linux users.

Evince – The Default Document Viewer on GNOME Shell

Evince is a popular PDF viewer, which comes pre-installed on many popular distros like Ubuntu and Fedora. Developed under the GNOME project, Evince aims to provide a simple and clean interface that allows users to view and print PDFs. Apart from the basic PDF functionality, Evince supports the printing of multiple pages per sheet, zooming, and searching for text within the document.

Since its development takes place under the GNOME project, Evince seamlessly integrates with the GNOME Shell, making it incredibly user-friendly.

MuPDF – Minimalistic and Lightweight

If you’re looking for a minimalistic and lightweight PDF viewer, MuPDF may be worth checking out. This software is designed to be a command-line application, providing users with optimized settings to improve performance and reduce resource usage.

MuPDF supports a wide range of file formats aside from PDF, including XPS, EPUB, CBZ, and CBR. The software has advanced features like rendering individual pages to PNG or printing PDF files, which makes it more than just a simple PDF viewer.

Users can download MuPDF as part of the MuPDF package or as a standalone software. Atril – MATE Desktop Environment’s Default PDF Viewer

Atril is a popular PDF viewer in the Linux community, primarily due to its support for multiple file formats like PDF, DJVU, and PS files.

It is the default document viewer of the MATE desktop environment, a popular lightweight desktop environment in the Linux community. Apart from browsing documents and zooming, Atril has a built-in text search function and supports bookmarks for quick navigation.

Atril’s functionality can be extended by installing plugins.

Qpdfview – Feature-Packed PDF Viewer for the Qt Framework

Developed using the Qt framework, Qpdfview is designed to provide a modern and user-friendly interface. Despite being lightweight, Qpdfview is feature-packed, supporting annotations, highlighting, and the ability to search for text within the PDF document.

It also supports multiple file formats like PDF, DJVU, and PS files, making it versatile. Additionally, users can add bookmarks and quickly navigate between them with the built-in bookmark manager.

Unlike many Linux PDF viewers, Qpdfview allows users to customize the interface’s look and feel, providing a personalized user experience. Okular – KDE’s Document Viewer

Okular is a popular PDF viewer that comes with the KDE desktop environment.

It boasts of support for multiple file formats, including PDF, EPUB, and MOBI, making it versatile. Okular provides full-text search and can create custom bookmarks that help users navigate through lengthy documents quickly.

It also features presentation mode, where the entire screen turns black, and the slides are the only thing displayed. This feature makes it ideal for presenters who want their audience to focus on the slideshow.

One of the unique features of Okular is the ability to take notes and highlight specific text in the document.

Zathura – Minimalistic Vim-like PDF Viewer

Developed with minimalism in mind, Zathura is a lightweight PDF viewer inspired by the essential features of the Vi editor. Zathura features a Vim-like interface complete with commands for regular movements, search, and turning pages.

Despite its minimalistic nature, Zathura supports multiple file formats like PDF, DJVU, and PS files. Users can also create custom bookmarks to navigate between pages quickly.

Zathura’s keyboard shortcuts are customizable to provide a user-friendly interface and workflow.

Features to Look for in a PDF Viewer

Regardless of the PDF viewer you choose, there are common and additional features that you should consider when selecting an application to use. The common features include support for multiple file formats, auto-scroll mode, continuous scrolling mode, full-screen mode, and night mode.

Additional features include dual-mode, slideshow mode, right-to-left mode, inverted colors mode, auto-fit mode, transformation tools, hyperlink support, and dark mode. Consider the additional features that you’ll need when selecting a PDF viewer to ensure that it best fits your use case.

In Conclusion

Compared to the other operating systems, Linux offers users more freedom in selecting a PDF viewer due to the range of available options. PDF viewers come with various features that suit different user needs, and we’ve explored some of the popular options in this article.

When selecting a PDF viewer, consider features like support for multiple file formats, auto-scroll mode, continuous scrolling mode, full-screen mode, night mode, dual-mode, slideshow mode, transformation tools, hyperlink support, and dark mode. PDF viewing has become a universal feature of modern web browsers, providing users with the flexibility to view PDF documents online.

PDFs are frequently used on the internet and can be found in downloadable format on websites and online documents. This article explores the different ways PDFs can be viewed on web browsers and the features they offer.

Firefox – PDF Support Out of the Box

Firefox is a popular web browser that comes with built-in PDF support, which allows users to view PDFs without having to install additional software. Firefox’s PDF viewer is fast and reliable, making it a convenient option for many users.

Additionally, Firefox allows users to save and print PDFs in a variety of file formats, making the browser more flexible. Users can control Firefox’s PDF viewer’s behavior by changing the default PDF viewer in the settings or installing a third-party PDF viewer from the package manager.

Chrome – PDF Support on Official Website

Chrome is a popular web browser developed by Google, featuring a built-in PDF viewer. Chrome users can view PDFs natively by default without having to install a third-party PDF viewer.

Additionally, Chrome lets users customize the viewer’s appearance and change the display options to fit their preferences. The flexibility to shape the display not only enhances the user experience but also provides an efficient workflow.

When updating Chrome, the browser automatically updates the built-in PDF viewer, and users don’t require additional software updates.

Chromium – PDF Support on Package Manager

The open-source browser, Chromium, is yet another web browser that comes with built-in PDF support. The PDF viewer is reliable and offers basic functionality.

By default, Chromium renders each page of a PDF as an image, which improves the reliability and performance of the viewer. Chromium’s built-in PDF viewer can be customized to suit users’ preferences by installing extensions or changing configuration options.

For users who prefer package-managed software, Chromium can be installed via the package manager, and the PDF viewer automatically comes with it.

Development of PDF Viewers

PDF viewers have taken years to develop into the versatile and feature-rich software we have today. When PDFs were first introduced, they were viewed mainly using Adobe’s Acrobat Reader, a heavyweight software package that ran slowly on some systems.

With the open-source movement, PDF viewers have proliferated, each with differentiating features for users to choose from. Many of the modern PDF viewers have features such as annotations, link support, conversion to other document formats, and even the ability to view comics, making it an adaptable software package for users.

Features of PDF Viewers

The major features of PDF viewers are native PDF viewing, searching, bookmarking, and indexing of PDFs. Additional features include conversion of PDFs to other file formats, annotation tools for highlighting, underlining, and striking through text, and the ability to fill forms and insert handwritten signatures. Many modern PDF viewers also have tools to redact sensitive information and merge PDFs. Additionally, users can view other file formats within PDF viewers, including EPUBs, MOBIs, and comics like CBR, CBZ and with greater versatility.

In Conclusion

PDF viewing via web browsers presents users with an easy and straightforward way to view and work with PDFs. Firefox, Chrome, and Chromium all have built-in PDF viewers, and users can install additional third-party viewers from their package manager. PDF viewers have undergone years of development, resulting in the feature-rich software we have on the market today.

The major features of PDF viewers have improved the user experience, and many viewers now have additional features like annotations, conversion tools, and support for a variety of other file formats. In conclusion, PDF viewing plays a crucial role in modern web browsers, providing users with a simple, convenient, and reliable way to access PDF documents.

Firefox, Chrome, and Chromium all come with built-in PDF support, making it easy for users to view PDFs natively. PDF viewers have undergone years of development, resulting in feature-rich software that improves the user experience.

Some of the most significant features of PDF viewers include native PDF viewing, searching, bookmarking, indexing, conversion, annotation, and the ability to view other file formats like EPUBs and MOBIs. Overall, PDF viewing is an essential aspect of working with electronic documents and is sure to continue to develop into the future, providing users with new and advanced features to work with.

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