Zathura: tiny PDF viewer


Zathura is a PDF viewer belonging to the same category as MuPDF. It uses vim-like keybinds and is a delight for vim-addicts. However, late-introduced (and modern) vim keybinds like arrow keys page keys etc. work fine with Zathura, making it easier to get accustomed to for regular users. If you don’t like the defaults, many settings can be configured. Font rendering in Zathura seems better than evince, though they use the same poppler library.

SyncTeX is a technology that allows to synchronize between input and output, which means to navigate from the source document to the typeset material and vice versa. zathura has bi-directional support for SyncTeX and makes editing LaTeX documents a delight.


  • supports PDF, Djvu, PostScript and comic-book formats
  • keyboard and mouse support
  • command/search/status bar like vim
  • page numbers
  • open files from app
  • double-click to jump/open links
  • select to copy text
  • many customization options
  • invert colors (for easy reading)
  • bookmarks support
  • remembers last settings
  • auto document reloading on change
  • show document information
  • optionally use MuPDF engine
  • 3 modes: fullscreen (F11), presentation (F5) and index (Tab)
  • fast with minimal dependencies
  • available on all major distros

The GUI is more advanced than MuPDF, which is minimal. You can add scrollbars, show status bar, page numbers etc. The configuration file is a huge advantage.


To install Zathura on Ubuntu, run:

$ sudo apt-get install zathura zathura-djvu zathura-ps zathura-cb


Refer to the following man pages for a quick overview of what you can achieve with Zathura:

$ man zathura
$ man zathurarc

Here’s a sample ~/.config/zathura/zathurarc with a few settings:

set smooth-scroll true
set guioptions sv
set recolor true
set recolor-keephue true

Setting up MuPDF backend could be a pain. The default poppler library-based rendering also works great.


Features: 4.5/5
Usability: 4/5

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