Sumatra PDF

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Sumatra PDF
Original author(s)Krzysztof Kowalczyk[1]
Developer(s)Krzysztof Kowalczyk, Simon Bünzli and others[1]
Initial release1 June 2006; 17 years ago (2006-06-01)
Stable release
3.5.2 / 25 October 2023; 5 months ago (2023-10-25)[2]
Written inC mostly, C++
Operating systemWindows Vista and later
Size4.63 MB (32-bit), 4.96 MB (64-bit)
Available inMultilingual
TypeDocument viewer
LicenseGNU General Public License v3

Sumatra PDF is a free and open-source document viewer that supports many document formats including: Portable Document Format (PDF), Microsoft Compiled HTML Help (CHM), DjVu, EPUB, FictionBook (FB2), MOBI, PRC, Open XML Paper Specification (OpenXPS, OXPS, XPS), and Comic Book Archive file (CB7, CBR, CBT, CBZ).[3] If Ghostscript is installed, it supports PostScript files. It is developed exclusively for Microsoft Windows.


Sumatra has a minimalist design, with its simplicity attained at the cost of extensive features. For rendering PDFs, it uses the MuPDF library.[4]

Sumatra was designed for portable use, as it consists of one file with no external dependencies, making it usable from an external USB drive, needing no installation.[5] This classifies it as a portable application to read PDF, XPS, DjVu, CHM, eBooks (ePub, FictionBook, Mobi PDB and TCR), Comic Book (CBZ, CBR, CBT and CB7) and image formats (BMP, GIF, JPEG, JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, PNG, TGA, WebP).[6] Sumatra could also support PostScript, PJL and HEIF formats via external software.[6]

As is characteristic of many portable applications, Sumatra uses little disk space.[3] In 2009, Sumatra 1.0 had a 1.21 MB setup file,[7] compared to Adobe Reader 9.5's 32 MB.[8] In January, 2017, the latest version of SumatraPDF, 3.1.2, had a single 6.1 Mb executable file; in comparison, Adobe Reader XI used 320 MB of disk space.[9]

The PDF format's use restrictions were implemented in Sumatra 0.6,[10] 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".[11][12][13] Other open-source readers like Okular and Evince make this optional, and Debian patches software to remove these restrictions, in accord with its principles of interoperability and re-use.[14]

Through version 1.1, printing was achieved by rasterizing each PDF page to a bitmap. This resulted in very large spool files and slow printing.[15][16]

Since version 0.9.1, hyperlinks embedded in PDF documents have been supported.[10]

Sumatra is multilingual, with 69 community-contributed translations.[17]

Sumatra supports SyncTeX, a bidirectional method to synchronize TeX source and PDF output produced by pdfTeX or XeTeX.[10]


Sumatra PDF is written mainly by two contributors: Krzysztof Kowalczyk and Simon Bünzli.[1] The source code is developed in two programming languages, mostly in C, with some components in C++. The source code is provided with support for Microsoft Visual Studio.[18]

As it was first designed when Windows XP was the current version of Windows, Sumatra initially had some incompatibilities with earlier versions of Windows. Support for Windows 95, 98 and ME has since been removed.[19]

Initially, Kowalczyk did not release a 64-bit version of Sumatra, indicating that while it might offer slightly more speed and available memory, he believed at that time that it would greatly add to user confusion and that the benefits would not outweigh the potential costs.[20] However, some users requested 64-bit builds of Sumatra and other developers had compiled unofficial 64-bit builds[21] which loaded documents faster than the 32-bit builds. However, the official builds' developer had requested that unofficial builds not bear the 'Sumatra' name.[22] In October 2015, an official 64-bit version of Sumatra was released.[23]

The Sumatra source code was originally hosted on Google Code. Due to US export legal restrictions, it was unavailable "in countries on the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control sanction list, including Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria."[24][25] The source code is currently hosted on GitHub.[26]


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 for more speed[4] and better support for the Windows platform. Poppler remained as alternative engine for a time, 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.

In July 2009, Sumatra PDF changed its license from GNU GPLv2 to GNU GPLv3 to match the same license change on MuPDF.[27]

Since version 0.9.4, Sumatra supports the JPEG 2000 format.[citation needed]

Version 1.0 was released on 17 November 2009, after more than three years of cumulative development. Version 2.0 was released on 2 April 2012, over two years after the release of version 1.0.[10]

In 2007, the first unofficial translations were released by Lars Wohlfahrt[28] before Sumatra PDF got official multi-language support.

In October 2015, version 3.1 introduced a 64-bit version, in addition to their original 32-bit version.[23][29]

Name and artwork[edit]

Early Logo of Sumatra PDF, inspired by the Watchmen comic.

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.[30]

The graphics design of Sumatra is a tribute to the cover of the Watchmen graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.[31]

Critical reception[edit]

Sumatra has attracted acclaim for its speed and simplicity,[32] for being portable,[33] its keyboard shortcuts, and its open-source development.[31]

At one time the Free Software Foundation Europe recommended Sumatra PDF, but then removed its recommendation in February 2014, due to the presence of the non-freely licensed unrar code in Sumatra. Foundation representative Heiki Ojasild explained, "while they continue to make use of the non-free library, SumatraPDF cannot be recognised as Free Software".[34][35][36][37] Unrar was eventually replaced with a free alternative in version 3.0, making it 100% free software.[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The Sumatra PDF Open Source Project on Ohloh: Contributors Listing Page". 27 September 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Release · sumatrapdfreader/sumatrapdf". GitHub. Retrieved 12 December 2023.
  3. ^ a b Krzysztof Kowalczyk. "Sumatra PDF – A PDF Viewer for Windows". Retrieved 19 February 2008.
  4. ^ a b Kowalczyk, Krzysztof. "SumatraPDF 0.4 released". Archived from the original on 14 April 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2007.
  5. ^ Henry, Alan (11 August 2007). "Sumatra PDF Viewer: Fast and Simple PDF Reading". AppScout. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2007.
  6. ^ a b "Supported document formats". Retrieved 16 September 2023.
  7. ^ (19 October 2014). "Sumatra PDF – Old Version of Sumatra PDF". Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  8. ^ Adobe Systems Incorporated (2009). "Adobe Reader". Retrieved 15 October 2009.
  9. ^ Adobe Systems Incorporated (2012). "Adobe Reader XI / Tech specs". Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d Kowalczyk, Krzysztof (May 2008). "Sumatra PDF – A PDF Viewer for Windows – Version history". Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  11. ^ Kowalczyk, Krzysztof (February 2009). "Issue 461: Copy to clipboard not allowed in protected files". Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  12. ^ Kowalczyk, Krzysztof (September 2012). "Issue 2003: printing fails (denied) due to PDF "Denied Permissions"". Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  13. ^ Kowalczyk, Krzysztof (September 2012). "Issue 1927: DRM-like features make working with documents difficult". Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  14. ^ Okular, Debian, and copy restrictions
  15. ^ Johnson, Adrian (May 2008). "poppler Printing with poppler on Windows". Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  16. ^ Kowalczyk, Krzysztof (October 2008). "Issue 378: mass memory needed for printing any pdf document". Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  17. ^ Kowalczyk, Krzysztof. "Translators". Sumatra PDF – A PDF Viewer for Windows. Retrieved 29 October 2007.
  18. ^ " – sumatrapdf – SumatraPDF 2.4 source code – PDF, EPUB, MOBI, CHM, XPS, DjVu, CBZ and CBR viewer for Windows". Google Project Hosting. 2 October 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  19. ^ Krzysztof Kowalczyk. "Download SumatraPDF". Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  20. ^ "WhyNo64bitBuilds – sumatrapdf – Why we don't provide 64bit builds. – PDF, CHM, XPS, DjVu, CBZ and CBR viewer for Windows – Google Project Hosting". 23 February 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  21. ^ "XhmikosR's Builds". 14 January 2014. Archived from the original on 8 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  22. ^ "Sumatra PDF Reader forum". Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  23. ^ a b "Provide 64bit builds". GitHub. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  24. ^ "sumatrapdf – PDF, CHM, XPS, DjVu, CBZ and CBR viewer for Windows – Google Project Hosting". Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  25. ^ "Google Project Hosting – Google Code". Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  26. ^ "GitHub – sumatrapdfreader/sumatrapdf: SumatraPDF reader". SumatraPDF Developers. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  27. ^ update the license to GPLv3, to match mupdf's license change on on 3 Jul 2009
  28. ^ Lars Wohlfahrt. "Sumatra PDF German". Retrieved 30 June 2007.
  29. ^ Sumatra PDF version history
  30. ^ Kowalczyk, Krzysztof (21 February 2008). "Name of Application". Sumatra PDF Viewer forum. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2008.
  31. ^ a b Trapani, Gina (9 August 2007). "Open PDF's in a flash with Sumatra". Lifehacker. Retrieved 21 February 2008. 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.
  32. ^ Anders Ingeman Rasmussen (2008). "Sumatra PDF 0.8". Open Source Alternatives. Retrieved 21 February 2008. 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.
  33. ^ This Amazing PDF Reader Is Portable And Tiny Archived 1 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine Submitted by Rob Schifreen on 21 July 2013
  34. ^ Roshal, Alexander L. (9 October 2011). "The source code of UnRAR utility is freeware". Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  35. ^ Sumatra PDF (n.d.). "Sumatra PDF". Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ Ojasild, Heiki (5 March 2014). " Removal of SumatraPDF due to inclusion of non-free code". Archived from the original on 30 October 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  38. ^ Kowalczyk, Krzysztof (October 2014). "Sumatra PDF – A PDF Viewer for Windows – Version history". Retrieved 21 October 2014.

External links[edit]