Ten PDF Readers

Zathura

The last candidate in the test is also a minimalist. Zathura [14] can only be controlled with the keyboard. The shortcuts are similar to those you would use in Vim. If you compile the program yourself, you can choose between the PDF routines of Poppler and MµPDF. Zathura displays not only PDF documents but other formats, such as zathura-cb (Comic Book), zathura-ps (PS), or zathura-djvu (DjVu), for which additional packages have to be imported.

After startup, the lean viewer does not show a menu or toolbars. Only one status bar is visible at the bottom, leaving plenty of space for documents in the window (Figure 10). Scrolling is controlled by pressing H, J, K, and L (left, down, up, right, respectively); the + and - keys change the view. Entering :q terminates the program. If you are not familiar with Vim key combinations, you can read about them on the Zathura man page. If you want to set your own shortcuts, you can create a configuration file (man zathurarc).

Figure 10: You control Zathura with the keyboard. The program handles tab completion and displays status messages at the bottom of the window.

Zathura does not allow you to fill out forms or mark or annotate anything in the document. To manage bookmarks, you can use the commands :bmark (define a bookmark), :blist (display all bookmarks), and :bdelete (delete one bookmark).

Well Prepared

None of the 10 test candidates showed weaknesses in their presentation. Most of the PDF viewers also support the latest PDF specification's special features. Those looking for a fast reader that doesn't suffer performance hits, even with large documents, should look at MµPDF or Zathura. GSView, Xpdf, and GNU GV are also recommended as lean viewers, but without many extras.

Atril, Evince, and qpdfview are solid all-rounders that also help reliably when filling out forms. Okular and Foxit Reader stand out from the competition: The KDE program is the first choice for those who need voice output. The proprietary Foxit Reader impresses above all with its appealing collaborative capabilities – as long as obtaining the required accounts in the manufacturer's cloud does not represent an obstacle.

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