qpdfview: Simple PDF Reader for Ubuntu Linux

Although when considered the popularity differences between MS Windows and GNU/Linux, one would rather assume that Windows should have a lot of choices when it comes to application software. Well, it’s true in most occasions. However, when it comes to finding free PDF viewer/reader, it seems like GNU/Linux also has a lot of choices too.

For instance, Ubuntu comes with the one called “Evince” (Gnome desktop’s tool actually), the KDE has the awesome “Okular”. But if you want something that’s both lightweight and simple, then you can try the awesome ePDFView & “xpdf”. Or if you want a keyboard oriented ones, then you can try “MuPDF” & zathura. Looking for a more professional looking one?, then you can use the popular Foxit reader (it has few issues though) or “PDFQuench” (if you want to easily crop pages) etc.

These are again, just a few that I know of to mention.

But, if you’ve already tried all those and looking for another one (for a change ;-)), then you can try “qpdfview” (new one). It uses a PDF rendering library called “poppler”, the UI is written using the Qt thus it looks modern. But most importantly, it has a reasonable amount of options, still looks quite simple and user friendly.

Few main features …

*. It might be new, but thanks to the underline “poppler” engine, it renders PDF files fast and without any issues.

*. Supports “following” external URLs (a link that points to a web site for instance), it’s disabled by default though.

*. A usual toolbar with tools such as: fit to page and re-scale (starting with 50% to 400%, however, currently, we cannot manually enter a zooming level but might be included in the future releases, hopefully), rotate pages, got to next/previous/last or manually enter the page number, search & highlight content, few built it “views” (one and two pages, one and two columns, presentation and fullscreen) etc.

*. Add/remove items from the tool-bars.

*. Enable/disable sidebar (supports “floating” too).

*. Save a copy.

*. Send to Print.

*. Supports opening documents in tabs (one of its key features).

*. Keeps a list of recently opened documents.

*. Supports running more than one instances of the program (handy if you don’t like to open tabs and needs new windows).

*. Unlike with the Foxit reader, “qpdfview” also supports selecting text and copying them to your clipboard (just select the text field using your left-mouse-button and then let go and it should highlight the text in “Blue” as shown in the first screenshot).

And that text should now be automatically copied into the clipboard, so you can open a text editor (for example), and simply “paste” the content!.

*. You can use its “settings” window to adjust few other settings such as: Enabling the above mentioned “Open URL” feature, enable/disable text anti-aliasing, change the reserved memory usage (default is set to “128MB”, but you can lover that value if you think it’s too aggressive) and changing the Prefetch “distance” (means the amount of pages for pre-loading, I think).

These are among its main features to mention.

You can install “qpdfview” in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin and 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot (only supports those two versions at the moment, but hopefully the developer, “Adam Reichold”, would give pre-builts for other older versions in the future) by simply using the below commands in your Terminal window (using its PPA with daily builds).

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:adamreichold/qpdfview-dailydeb

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install qpdfview

*. Update (6/05/2012): The developer, Benjamin Eltzner, was kind enough to inform me that now it’s also available to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS users as well. The above PPA contains the daily-builds (a bit unstable packages), but now it also has stable packages too. For installing the stable version, instead of the above commands, please use the below ones.

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:b-eltzner/qpdfview

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install qpdfview

That should do it!. Once it installs, you can open it by typing its name in Unity’s Dash (“qpdfview”) or, you can open PDF files directly from Nautilus’s (file manager) context menu as well.

So, if you’ve been looking for an another PDF viewer that has a never look-n-feel (thanks to Qt4) plus a simple & a user friendly UI design, then though it’s quite new, “qpdfview” is a tool that looks really good :D. Enjoy!.

23 thoughts on “qpdfview: Simple PDF Reader for Ubuntu Linux

  1. Hi,

    I am the package maintainer for the stable builds of qpdfview, which are available from the ppa at


    First of all I would like to thank you for the extensive positive review.

    Furthermore, there is good news for users of older versions of ubuntu: Since the latest version 0.2.2 ubuntu 10.04 lucid lynx is supported with stable, as well as daily package builds. If somebody would like to install 0.2.2 from source on an older system, it is probably necessary to substitute Qt::MiddleButton by Qt::MidButton in line 292 of pageview.cpp before compiling. In the current code in the trunk branch (available from https://launchpad.net/qpdfview) this problem has been fixed.

  2. I went to Benjamin's link to add the repo (ppa:b-eltzner/qpdfview) which it does, but trying to install qpdfview results in "E: Unable to locate package qpdfview"

    I had thought since there were packages for Oneiric, Precise and Lucid that it would install on my Natty installation.

    Do I need to install from source?


  3. Dear Gayan & Benjamin,

    having had fun with some PDF forms and LibreOffice, I was looking for a simple Reader which also allows to fill PDF forms. I worked through your really good description to install Foxit, but missed to read the 64bit Update. Then tried QPDFView but learned that it doesn't allow forms to be filled, despite what's being said on the web …well that one place I checked.

    Do I have any other option than installing the 32bit wrapper and use Foxit if I want to fill PDF forms electronically ?

    After partially installing FOXIT as described above : how do I get rid of it again if I wanted to ?

    It doesn't show in Software Center with an "Remove button next to it.

    As I don't know too many details of Ubuntu, I, reluctant to just delete binaries and this would probably leave the useless Foxit icon on the dash anyway.

    Any instructions how to cleanly & completely remove it would be gratefully appreciated.



    • Hello 'Norbert',

      I'm no expert on PDF and filling forms, but I just checked a sample PDF form (from 'Adobe') with the built in PDF reader in Ubuntu called ('Evince', a general document reader, not just for opening PDF files) and I was able to fill the form without any issues using it. So have you tried doing that with 'Evince'?

      For the manual removal of Foxit …

      You can actually remove all the installed files of 'Foxit' by simply copying and pasting the below command (it's a bit long, make sure to copy it completely) in your Terminal, when asked enter the 'sudo' password, and now you should have completely removed 'FoxitReader' from your Ubuntu system (including its icon as well :D).

      sudo rm -r /usr/share/applications/Foxit-Reader.desktop /usr/share/foxit /usr/share/pixmaps/fx-icon.png /usr/bin/FoxitReader /usr/share/locale/de/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo /usr/share/locale/fr/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo /usr/share/locale/ja/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo /usr/share/locale/zh_CN/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo /usr/share/locale/zh_TW/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo

      I just tested it and worked perfectly in my 12.04 64-bit system.

  4. Hi,
    I used your instructions in and installed FoxitReader to my Zorin (Ubuntu) OS LTS 12.04.1. It worked but was disappointed with some of the limitations. So I downloaded the Windows version of FoxitReader from and used WINE to do the installation. This worked flawless and FoxitReader is doing what I need it to do.

    I now wish to remove the the ‘other’ version of FoxitReader but the manual removal procedure does not work:
    kayman@kayman-System-Product-Name:~$ sudo rm -r /usr/share/applications/Foxit-Reader.desktop /usr/share/foxit /usr/share/pixmaps/fx-icon.png /usr/bin/FoxitReader /usr/share/locale/de/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo /usr/share/locale/fr/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo /usr/share/locale/ja/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo /usr/share/locale/zh_CN/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo /usr/share/locale/zh_TW/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo
    [sudo] password for karl:
    rm: cannot remove `/usr/share/applications/Foxit-Reader.desktop’: No such file or directory
    rm: cannot remove `/usr/share/foxit’: No such file or directory
    rm: cannot remove `/usr/share/pixmaps/fx-icon.png’: No such file or directory
    rm: cannot remove `/usr/bin/FoxitReader’: No such file or directory
    rm: cannot remove `/usr/share/locale/de/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo’: No such file or directory
    rm: cannot remove `/usr/share/locale/fr/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo’: No such file or directory
    rm: cannot remove `/usr/share/locale/ja/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo’: No such file or directory
    rm: cannot remove `/usr/share/locale/zh_CN/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo’: No such file or directory
    rm: cannot remove `/usr/share/locale/zh_TW/LC_MESSAGES/FoxitReader.mo’: No such file or directory

    Would you please provide a fix to remove this application completely. Many thanks in advance.
    Cheers… Kay.

    • Hi ‘Kay’,

      Well, it seems to me that, ‘other’ version of ‘Foxit’ is completely removed. Or, perhaps ‘Zorin’ uses a different file path for installig files … in that case, I’m afraid I cannot help you friend :/.

  5. Thanks for responding.
    Yes, the command to remove Foxit is working – definitely no ‘fix’ required!
    We had to reboot the computer to actually get rid of the Foxit icon in the Application Menu.
    My sincere apologies for jumping the gun and wasting your time!
    Since I also installed the software library (sudo apt-get install ia32-libs), I was wondering if it should be removed as well and would be most grateful if you could provide either an appropriate (removal) command or advise if the deletion instruction in apply. I am asking this because the installation command(s) is/are different to the one you provided.
    Cheers… Kay.

    • Hi ‘Kay’,

      If the reason you installed ‘ia32-libs’ was only to run Foxit, then yes, you can remove it safely. For that, please use the below command.

      sudo apt-get autoremove ia32-libs

      That should do it. Oh by the way, you are welcome too :).

  6. Hello,

    I’m trying now for more than 2 hours to install a pdf viewer that can underline and copy text and slowly going crazy. I tried Foxit reader as I know it from windows just to see it is a the simplest version (maybe you could mention it in your installing description that the linux version is not at all like the windows version. I think a lot of people installed foxit since they expect it to be the same as the windows version). So I tried to use the windows version with wine, but that doesnt work. I guess that the newest wine version does not support any available foxitreader version.
    I tried qpdf but my computer tells me sth about E: would be blocked…I saw that qpdf was once available over the software centre, why is it not anymore? I tried the webside of Benjamin Eltzner but it is not openable, that might be the doing of the chinese internet and firewall (I’m actually in China), I dont know. I have ubuntu 12.04, LTS. Maybe its my ubuntu version qpdf doesnt work? And if yes is there any hope there is a pdf viewer with functions like the windows version foxitreader (marking/typing/commenting/drawing/copying) or am I with ubuntu just stuck with 1000 alternatives of simple pdf viewers ? Hope you can help me.


    • Hi ‘Rui’an’,

      First of all, sorry about the issues that you’re having with the Firewall.

      Have you tried the instructions on this article ? (you know, adding the PPA and then installing it?) Now, I have written an up-to-date article about ‘qpdfview’ & you can read it from here.

      If you can receive updates from Ubuntu, I can’t see why you shouldn’t be able to use the PPA of ‘qpdfview’ as it is also hosted on the same servers. This is all I can do to help you, sorry about that :/.

  7. Foxit Reader does support text selection (View->Toolbar->Customize Toolbar, add Text Selection tool, just like in Adobe Reader).

    qpdfview, on the other hand, does (still, a year and a half in since you posted the article) lack a text selection tool — yeah, rectangular selection and copy to clipboard is nice, also completely useless in about 99% of the scenarios when selecting text is needed.

    I (too) have switched to qpdfview, from Adobe Reader (mostly for speed reasons), with which qpdfview is almost on par features-wise (for my use cases, obviously). Yet, Foxit remains the tool of choice for quick PDF viewing tasks.

  8. A brilliant pdf viewer, thanks for your effort. I particularly like the tabbed feature, which avoids me going like a headless chicken through a document when you need to constantly look at different parts of it (for instance, to check a bibliography, an appendix, or a key to excercises, etc).

    Keep the good work, and congratulations.

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