How-To Geek

Open Source PDF Reader for Windows in a Single .Exe

We’ve always been fans of the free Foxit PDF reader here, but when I came across an open-source PDF viewer that was even more lightweight and simple, I immediately switched.

The Sumatra PDF viewer comes as one single .exe file, and is about as minimal as you can get… it launches in less than a second for me, and the clean interface is great. 


But that’s not the best part… it’s got shortcut keys that are very similar to Gmail and Google Reader. (Except j and k are swapped for some unknown reason)

Here’s the list of shortcut keys: 

  • space – scroll by screen
  • backspace – scroll back by screen
  • k – scroll by one line
  • j – scroll back by one line
  • Down – scroll by one line
  • Up – scroll back by one line
  • n – goto next page
  • p – goto previous page
  • Page Down – go to next page
  • Page Up – go to previous page
  • g – goto page
  • q – quit
  • + – zoom in
  • – – zoom out
  • r – reload PDF document
  • <Shift> <Ctrl> + – rotate clockwise
  • <Shift> <Ctrl> – – rotate counter-clockwise
  • Home – go to first page
  • End – go to last page

Just being able to navigate a PDF with the same keys I use all the time was enough for me.

Download Sumatra PDF Viewer for Windows

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 08/8/07

Comments (10)

  1. Moroni

    You mean “lightweight” for UI, don’t you?

    But I’m really concerned about resource usage.
    And that’s the reason I strongly prefer Foxit!

    Try opening PDFs on both programs and compare the memory usage!
    The difference is bigger if you open PDFs with more than 4MB.

    Hugs from Brazil! :)

  2. #1 Fan

    Thank you for this great find and gem!!

  3. jessie

    Thanks for this info. i was searching google for this pdf and I came across your site and article. I’ll try using this since adobe is heavy on the disk space. for foxit, it’s ok but I’m willing to give this new pdf reader a shot. :-)

  4. nick

    Also: Xpdf has been ported to windows

  5. John

    It does not support jbig2 yet so you cannot view some scanned images which have been converted to pdfs.

  6. Bhavyesh

    Really really very very very thanks of providing such wonderful software for pdf reader.
    Thanks once again :-)

  7. eric

    as much as i love open source, i have to say pdf x-change is the most superior reader – like foxit minus the intrusive advertising – and i still haven’t found a better free reader for the price.

    ps – also has typewriter without advertising

  8. Valery

    +1 agree with eric .PDF-XChange is excellent and very complete and useful interface. Fast and easy to work. Absolutely outstanding; one of the best PDF utilities available. It’s not just a reader, but a tool for making notes and comments, typing on forms, adding graphics or exporting PDFs to images. A great product from an excellent software company.

  9. David

    I love it! Thanks a lot!

  10. jm

    Can you recommend a freeware\opensource PDF-audio-and-optical reader (as opposed to optical-only reader) that runs on WinXP? (Adobe X does not audioread on my soundcard and will not allow me to revert to, NOR SUCCESSFULLY REINSTALL Adobe 9 Reader with audio capabilities restored)?

    Thanks in advance.

More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!