open or close a PDF file viewer
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searches for an instance of the specified (or default) PDF
viewer displaying the specified PDF file. If there is
already an instance of the given viewer displaying the given
file, the viewer is instructed to reload the file. If no
such instance is found, pdfopen attempts to run the
specified viewer on the specified document.
viewer is "acroread", which could start any
one of a number of versions of Acrobat Reader, depending on
what is installed on your system. However, the commands to
reload the current document vary from one version of
acroread to another; consequently, if you are using a
version of acroread other than AR9, you should
explicitly specify the viewer program.
Version 0.83 of
pdfopen accepts the following viewer options:
ar9, ar9-tab, ar8, ar7, ar5,
xpdf, and evince.
The difference between ar9 and ar9-tab is
significant when there is no instance of AR9 already
displaying the requested document. In this situation, while
ar9 will request acroread to create a new
instance of acroread (and thus open a new window) by
using the -openInNewInstance argument, ar9-tab
starts acroread without this argument; if there is
already an instance of acroread running, a new tab
will be opened in an existing window.
searches for one of the above PDF viewers displaying the
given file and instructs the viewer to "close" the
window. In most cases, the PDF viewer continues to run,
possibly now displaying just a blank window. (This behaviour
varies somewhat from one PDF viewer to another.)
output help and exit
output the version number and
after sending commands to the
PDF viewer, attempt to reset the input focus to the window
which had focus before the commands were sent
use (respectively) Adobe Reader 9 (in a new window), Adobe
Reader 9 (in a new tab of a running AR9, if any), Adobe
Reader 8, Adobe Reader 7, Adobe Reader 5, xpdf or evince as
the PDF viewer program. Adobe Reader 9 (in a new window) is
If you use ar9-tab to reload the PDF document and the
instance of acroread with the given document is currently
displaying some other document, the command causes your document
to be displayed, but not reloaded.
pdfopen works by looking for a window with a name (window
title) matching that expected for the given viewer and document.
If for some reason your viewer’s window name is not as
expected, pdfopen may not work for you.
With at least AR9 and some window managers, using pdfopen
to reload the document gives focus to the acroread window,
even though the mouse cursor is not necessarily in that window.
This can be annoying. The -reset_focus option can be used
to deal with this problem.
portability and availability
Users familiar with the Windows version of pdfopen might
wonder about the lack of a --page
<pagenumber> option. Unfortunately, to date no
GNU/Linux versions of acroread support this feature.
Anyone having a friend at Adobe is encouraged to ask them to
implement a "-page <pagenumber>" command line
option for acroread.
These programs have been tested on Slackware64 Version 13.37 and
a few other versions / distributions of GNU/Linux. The code is
reasonably generic and should work out of the box using most
recent X11 implementations. (Reports to the contrary are welcome,
particularly if they come with robust fixes.)
These programs are designed for X11-based systems. If you somehow
find compiled versions of these programs on a system using
another window system, they are very unlikely to be of any use to
Source and binaries of the programs can be downloaded from
At certain points of TeX document preparation, many people repeat
a "edit-compile-view" cycle. Since PDF viewers such as
Adobe’s Acrobat Reader ("acroread") do not
automatically refresh the display when the PDF file changes, this
cycle can be more cumbersome than desired. The pdfopen
program provides the ability to automate the reloading of the PDF
document when it is changed.
Note: there seems to be little need for pdfclose under
GNU/Linux, since (unlike the situation for MS windows)
acroread does not lock the PDF file, which would prevent
pdftex (or a DVI to PDF converter) from creating a new
version of the PDF output file. However, pdfclose is
provided in case someone finds it useful.
page was written by Jim Diamond
<Jim.Diamond[:at:]acadiau[:dot:]ca>. I am the current maintainer
of the X11 versions of pdfopen and pdfclose.
Report any bugs you find to me. Feature enhancement requests
are welcome, coded enhancements even more so.
Fabrice Popineau wrote the MS-windows versions of
pdfopen and pdfclose upon which these programs
were originally based. Taco Hoekwater created the GNU/Linux
versions, up to Version 0.61 (including some documentation
which inspired parts of this man page).