I'm working on a latex document (with pdflatex, cygwin, acrobat reader) and I'm am tired of the make - close - open process.

On osx with Preview I don't have that problem, since I can compile the .tex files, while the resulting pdf is opened in the viewer (which gets updated after the build process).

Whereas on Win7, with Acrobat Reader, my pdflatex (tex-live 2012) complains that it [...] can't write on file xxx.pdf. I guess the reader locks the pdf file.

How do you efficiently produce/edit .tex files on Win7? I preferably would stick to using makefiles and a text editor instead of a windows latex build environment.

  • If that is an option for you: I think (can't check it right now) xpdf via cygwin works that way. However you need to turn the page forth and back in order to update the displayed file. – mpy May 24 '13 at 15:54
  • Thx, it's good for starters. But since I know how it's handled on the mac, I'd be glad to have some other solutions. – mike May 24 '13 at 16:13
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SumatraPDF can be used in your current workflow. It will not place a lock on the file. It also supports synchronization between editor and pdf document.

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    I wanted to post the same a minute ago, but I couldn't answer my own question with less than 10 rep... :) Anyway, thank you! – mike May 24 '13 at 17:17

Although there's already an answer providing a native non-blocking windows PDF reader, I followed the cygwin/xpdf approach and hacked together a small script.

It is based on xpdf's -remote option which which it is possible to reload an already opened file. So, we only need to detect when the file is changed. As there is no native inotify on windows you need to install inotify-win, which is a C# program.

My script xpdf-f seems to work fine, however you have to close both, xpdf and the the script (via Strg+C) once finished watching the PDF.


if [[ "$1" = "" ]]; then
  echo Usage: $0 FILE
  exit 1

if [[ ! -e "$1" ]]; then
  echo Error: File $1 does not exist.
  exit 2

xpdf -remote filewatch "$1" &

while [[ -e /proc/$XPDFPID ]]; do
  inotifywait `dirname $1` | grep "MODIFY $1"
  [[ $? = 0 ]] && xpdf -remote filewatch -reload
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As of 2017 also Firefox/Chrome can do the job. Firefox even keeps the current page after F5 - Refresh.

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    Can you add more detail to your answer? Saying "X does the job" is too vague to be helpful. Thanks for contributing. – I say Reinstate Monica Sep 27 '17 at 14:25
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    Web browsers in general should work. The default/normal/expected behavior for REST clients is to load the content of a URL and then close the connection. – StackOverthrow Feb 1 '19 at 22:01

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