Sumatra PDF

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Sumatra PDF
Sumatra PDF logo.png
SumatraPDF 2.png
Sumatra PDF
Original author(s) Krzysztof Kowalczyk[1]
Developer(s) Krzysztof Kowalczyk, Simon Bünzli and others[1]
Initial release June 1, 2006; 8 years ago (2006-06-01)
Stable release 3.0 / October 18, 2014; 5 months ago (2014-10-18)
Written in C++
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Size 4.34 MB
Available in Multilingual
Type PDF reader
License GNU General Public License v3

SumatraPDF, also known as Sumatra, is an open source PDF reader for Microsoft Windows only. The program also opens Open XML Paper Specification, DjVu, EPUB, XPS, FB2, CHM, CB7 CBR CBT CBZ, MOBI and PRC files. It is written primarily by two contributors: Krzysztof Kowalczyk and Simon Bünzli.[1][2]


Sumatra has a minimalistic design, with its simplicity attained at the expense of extensive features. For rendering PDFs it uses the MuPDF library.

Sumatra was designed for portable use, as it consists of one single file with no external dependencies, making it usable from an external USB drive.[3] This classifies it as a portable application.[2]

As is characteristic of many portable applications, Sumatra takes up little disk space.[2] In 2009, Sumatra 1.0 had a 1.21 MB setup file,[4] compared to Adobe Reader 9.5's 32 MB.[5] The installed size is 8.2 MB, whereas Adobe Reader XI requires 320 MB of available disk space.[6]

When re-opening a document, the rotation, zoom, window size, page, etc. are remembered from the last time that document was opened, making it behave more like an e-book reader than some other PDF viewers.[citation needed]

Sumatra does not lock the PDF file. Without closing the PDF file, a user can save over the PDF and then press the R key to refresh the PDF document. For example, a PDFTeX user could find this feature useful when, after recompiling the altered TeX source code, simply pressing 'R' and view the altered document.[citation needed]

The PDF format's usage restrictions were implemented in Sumatra 0.6,[7] preventing users from printing or copying from documents that the document author restricts, a form of Digital Rights Management. Kowalczyk stated "I decided that [Sumatra] will honor PDF creator's wishes".[8][9][10] Other open source readers like Okular and Evince make this optional, and Debian patches software to remove these restrictions, in accordance with the open source principles of interoperability and reuse.[11]

Up to Sumatra 1.1, printing was achieved by transforming each PDF page into a bitmap image. This resulted in very large spool files and potentially slow printing.[12][13]

Since Sumatra 0.9.1, hyperlinks embedded in PDF documents have also been supported.[7]

Sumatra is multilingual, with 69 community-contributed translations.[14]

Sumatra supports SyncTeX, a bidirectional method for synchronizing TeX source and PDF output produced by pdfTeX or XeTeX.

Since version 0.9.4, Sumatra supports the JPEG 2000 format.


SumatraPDF is written in the C++ programming language (some components it uses are written in the C programming language) and the source code is provided with support for Microsoft Visual Studio.[15]

As it was first designed when Windows XP was the current version of Windows, Sumatra initially had some incompatibility issues with earlier versions of Windows. Support for Windows 95, 98 and Me has since been dropped completely.[16]

Kowalczyk has not released a 64-bit version of Sumatra, indicating that while it might offer slightly more speed and more memory available, he believes it would greatly add to user confusion and that the benefits would not outweigh the potential costs.[17] However, some users have requested 64-bit builds of Sumatra and other developers have compiled unofficial 64-bit builds of Sumatra[18] which load documents faster than the 32-bit builds. However, the official builds' developer has requested that unofficial builds must not bear the 'Sumatra' name.[19]

The source code can be downloaded either via its Subversion development repository or as a tarball.[20][21]

The Sumatra source code is hosted on Google Code and because of US export legal restrictions is thus not available "in countries on the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control sanction list, including Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria."[22][23]


The first version of Sumatra PDF, designated version 0.1, was based on Xpdf 0.2 and was released on 1 June 2006. It switched to Poppler from version 0.2. In version 0.4 it changed to MuPDF because of speed improvement[24] and better support for the Windows platform, since Poppler decided to focus on integration with Unix platforms[citation needed]. Poppler remained as alternative engine for a while, and from version 0.6 to 0.8 it was automatically used to render pages that MuPDF failed to load. Poppler was removed in version 0.9, released on 10 August 2008.

Version 1.0 was released on 17 November 2009 after more than three years of cumulative development, and version 2.0 was released on 2 April 2012, over two years after the release of version 1.0.[7]

The first unofficial translations were released in 2007 by Lars Wohlfahrt[25] before Sumatra PDF got official multi-language support.

Name and artwork[edit]

Early Logo

The author has indicated that the choice of the name “Sumatra” is not a tribute to the Sumatra island or coffee, stating that there is no particular reasoning behind the name.[26]

The graphics design of Sumatra is a tribute to the cover of the Watchmen graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.[27]

Critical reception[edit]

Sumatra has attracted acclaim for its speed and simplicity,[28] its keyboard shortcuts and its open source development.[27]

At one time the Free Software Foundation Europe recommended Sumatra PDF, but removed its recommendation in February 2014, due to the presence of the non-freely licensed unrar code in Sumatra. Free Software Foundation Europe representative Heiki Ojasild explained, "while they continue to make use of the non-free library, SumatraPDF cannot be recognised as Free Software".[29][30][31][32] Unrar was eventually replaced with a free alternative in version 3.0, making it 100% free software.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c   (2011-09-27). "The Sumatra PDF Open Source Project on Ohloh : Contributors Listing Page". Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  2. ^ a b c Krzysztof Kowalczyk. "Sumatra PDF - A PDF Viewer for Windows". Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  3. ^ Alan Henry (2007-08-11). "Sumatra PDF Viewer: Fast and Simple PDF Reading". AppScout. 
  4. ^ (19 October 2014). "Sumatra PDF - Old Version of Sumatra PDF". Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Adobe Systems Incorporated (2009). "Adobe Reader". Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  6. ^ Adobe Systems Incorporated (2012). "Adobe Reader XI / Tech specs". Retrieved 2012-10-16. 
  7. ^ a b c Kowalczyk, Krzysztof (May 2008). "Sumatra PDF - A PDF Viewer for Windows - Version history". Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  8. ^ Kowalczyk, Krzysztof (February 2009). "Issue 461: Copy to clipboard not allowed in protected files". Retrieved 2012-09-13. 
  9. ^ Kowalczyk, Krzysztof (September 2012). "Issue 2003: printing fails (denied) due to PDF "Denied Permissions"". Retrieved 2012-09-13. 
  10. ^ Kowalczyk, Krzysztof (September 2012). "Issue 1927: DRM-like features make working with documents difficult". Retrieved 2013-05-25. 
  11. ^ Okular, Debian, and copy restrictions
  12. ^ Johnson, Adrian (May 2008). "poppler Printing with poppler on Windows". Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  13. ^ Kowalczyk, Krzysztof (October 2008). "Issue 378: mass memory needed for printing any pdf document". Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  14. ^ Krzysztof Kowalczyk. "Translators". Sumatra PDF - A PDF Viewer for Windows. Retrieved 2007-10-29. 
  15. ^ " - sumatrapdf - SumatraPDF 2.4 source code - PDF, EPUB, MOBI, CHM, XPS, DjVu, CBZ and CBR viewer for Windows - Google Project Hosting". 2013-10-02. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  16. ^ Krzysztof Kowalczyk. "Download SumatraPDF". Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  17. ^ "WhyNo64bitBuilds - sumatrapdf - Why we don't provide 64bit builds. - PDF, CHM, XPS, DjVu, CBZ and CBR viewer for Windows - Google Project Hosting". 2012-02-23. Retrieved 2012-09-13. 
  18. ^ "XhmikosR's Builds". 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  19. ^ "Sumatra PDF Reader forum". Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  20. ^ Mohammad shafie; Krzysztof Kowalczyk, TJS (2007-07-03). "Source Code". Sumatra PDF Viewer forum. Retrieved 2008-02-13.  [dead link]
  21. ^ "Download Source". SumatraPDF Developers. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  22. ^ "sumatrapdf - PDF, CHM, XPS, DjVu, CBZ and CBR viewer for Windows - Google Project Hosting". Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  23. ^ "Google Project Hosting - Google Code". Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  24. ^ Krzysztof Kowalczyk. "SumatraPDF 0.4 released". Retrieved Feb 20, 2007. 
  25. ^ Lars Wohlfahrt. "Sumatra PDF German". Retrieved Jun 30, 2007. 
  26. ^ Krzysztof Kowalczyk (2008-02-21). "Name of Application". Sumatra PDF Viewer forum. Retrieved 2008-02-21. 
  27. ^ a b Gina Trapani (2007-08-09). "Open PDF's in a flash with Sumatra". Lifehacker. Retrieved 2008-02-21. The Sumatra PDF Viewer is a tiny open source portable reader that opens PDF's in the blink of an eye. Bloat and startup time is a major drawback to Adobe Reader, so we fled to the faster arms of Foxit Reader long ago. However, at 850KB, Sumatra is way slimmer than FoxIt. 
  28. ^ Anders Ingeman Rasmussen (2008). "Sumatra PDF 0.8". Open Source Alternatives. Retrieved 2008-02-21. Sumatra PDF is a fairly young project aiming to create a small, simple and fast PDF viewer. It main features are showing PDFs and starting up really fast - and it does both just perfectly. 
  29. ^ Roshal, Alexander L. (9 October 2011). "The source code of UnRAR utility is freeware". Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  30. ^ Sumatra PDF (n.d.). "Sumatra PDF". Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  31. ^ Free Software Foundation Europe (28 February 2014). "Get a Free Software PDF reader!". Archived from the original on 9 February 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  32. ^ Ojasild, Heiki (5 March 2014). " Removal of SumatraPDF due to inclusion of non-free code". Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  33. ^ Kowalczyk, Krzysztof (October 2014). "Sumatra PDF - A PDF Viewer for Windows - Version history". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 

External links[edit]