I used to use the Acrobat Reader on Ubuntu, which supported tabbed PDF viewing. Since I usually have a bunch open but am reading only one or two, tabbed viewing is better than Evince's open-each-PDF-in-a-new-window behavior.

Unfortunately, it's slow and I'm anyway having issues installing it on Ubuntu.

What other PDF viewers out there work on Ubuntu and support tabs?

  • 3
    How about using Chrome or Firefox as a PDF viewer? Is there something that you'd need that they can't give you?
    – dotVezz
    Feb 4, 2014 at 20:41
  • What window manager are you using? Some window managers can provide the tabbing. In a way, that's its job — applications shouldn't be messing about with tabs as they're imposing their choice of not being able to display two documents side to side. Feb 5, 2014 at 1:14

3 Answers 3


qpdfview (sudo apt-get install qpdfview) is the best alternative as lightweight tabbed PDF viewer.

Editing: not available. Same for annotating. If you need these, you need another alternative.

Viewing options: all usual viewing options are there, including zooming, fitting to page, continuous and non-continuous scrolling, full-screen and rotating pages.

Usability: it's not beautiful, but works fine. Almost everything is under single-level menus instead of long toolbars. There's keyboard shortcuts for every menu item, so no need to click with mouse for regularly used things (for example, switching between tabs and rotating pages on broken PDFs)

Compatibility: I haven't encountered PDF file that wasn't rendered properly by qpdfview. This includes relatively complex scientific articles and PDFs with graphics. qpdfview also supports postscript and DjVU with plugins (installed by default).

Bugs: the only bug I have encountered is that search does not find scandinavian characters (äöå) properly. It worked well with ASCII charset (plain English).

  • 6
    So, I've been using this for the past few days, and it's awesome! Very fast, and the tabs work like a charm. Thanks! Feb 7, 2014 at 9:54

I have a rather different case to present here with no PDF reader recommendation, because it would make any PDF reader a tabbed reader.

If you happen to have KDE 4.1x installed in your Linux box then you can do the following:

  1. Open a PDF in your choice of PDF reader.
  2. Follow the images to implement the needed settings:

    • Default look of Okular PDF reader

      IMG: Default look of Okular PDF reader

    • Right-click on Title bar → More Actions → Special Application Settings...

      IMG: Right-click on Title bar → More Actions → Special Application Settings...

    • Select OK in dialog box

      IMG: Select OK in dialog box

    • Check Autogroup with identical

      IMG: Check Autogroup with identical

    • Click on Do Not Affect and choose Force

      IMG:Click on Do Not Affect

    • Click Yes

      IMG: Click Yes

    • Click OK

      IMG: Click OK

  3. Now open any number of PDFs in that PDF reader and they will be tabbed like:

    IMG: Tabbed PDFs


As Steve noted in the comments, be wary of memory usage if your computer runs short on RAM because each tab of a program here is equivalent to an individual separate session of the program.

  • 2
    While this is very handy for screen real estate the downside is that each tab is a separate copy of the whole reader program - this may consume a lot more memory than the same documents opened in a tabbed reader so if you are short of RAM avoid this solution. Jul 16, 2015 at 7:53
  • @SteveBarnes Thanks for the info, I didn't think of that. But in that case, a lightweight PDF reader could be utilized yet retaining the said tabbed functionality.
    – Firelord
    Jul 16, 2015 at 11:27
  • Is there any way of doing this on ubuntu?
    – safetyduck
    Jun 19, 2020 at 9:52
  • 1
    @mathtick you would need to have KDE installed and running. I don't know whether other Desktop Environments (such as Gnome 3) offer this functionality.
    – Firelord
    Jun 19, 2020 at 11:21

Use Firefox, you don't need a separate program to do that.

  1. Right Click on a PDF-file.
  2. Choose Properties.
  3. Go to the Open With tab.
  4. Choose firefox.

Example image

  • 1
    You should at least add how to associate PDF files with FireFox. That is not obvious.
    – user416
    Dec 13, 2016 at 11:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.