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Sometimes I need to see and read two different parts of the same document at the same time (e.g. reading the explanation of a chart while viewing it). How can I do that? Is there any PDF reader with that feature or do you open the same file twice?

According to How do I use Revu's Split View mode on a single monitor or with multiple monitors? Bluebeam has this feature. Unfortunately there is no Mac version and it is very expensive.

I also found this discussion thread recommending STDU Viewer but it is also for Windows only: How to view two not continuous PDF pages at once,like the split view of Word .

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You can use Skim (which is free) which offers the View -> Show Split PDF feature.

Skim is a PDF reader and note-taker for OS X. It is designed to help you read and annotate scientific papers in PDF, but is also great for viewing any PDF file.

Download Skim here.

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  • Do you have a link for Skim?
    – suspectus
    Mar 27 '15 at 13:12
  • 2
    @suspectus hmm do you know how to set the vertical split in Skim?
    – JPCF
    Dec 20 '16 at 10:10
  • I tried Skim Version 1.6.4 (134). You can split .. but (there's always a BUT haha), the option "Go to page", selection a title in "Table of contents", and I guess that every specific functionality from the toolbar is applied only to one of these views. So actually you cannot navigate well in long books in both screens without at least "Go to Page" feature, but well .. you can always scroll in second view. Or "Go To Page" and then split the pdf and then scroll if the two pages that u want to see are close to each other. So up to you if it's enough for you xD Jul 17 at 19:02
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One way to accomplish this in Preview (the default PDF reader in OSX) is to open the same file twice.

The quickest way to do this is to open the file then click File -> Duplicate. This will open the duplicated file in a new Preview window.

For extra goodness use something like Spectacle to give you the ability to quickly snap your two preview windows side-by-side.

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  • 1
    Your preview solution works if you don't have to modify the PDF while reading it and has the cost of producing an extra file. May 30 '20 at 7:05
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Skim has the ability to split horizontally, but the maintainer has explicitly declined the request to include a vertical split feature.

You can open two, distinct instances of Preview (and the same PDF) by using the open command at the command line:

open -n "path/to/your.pdf"

I then use Magnet to arrange my windows, though there's a native, macOS solution for this as well.

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  • This is great @chb. It's the "-n" bit in your solution that makes it (it worked also with Skim, because that's my default PDF viewer instead of the box-standard Preview). To set Skim (or any other software as default PDF viewer) I use the Finder, select a PDF file, press command-I (or select "Get Info" on a right-click), in the "Open with" drawer select "Skim" from the "Use this application to open all documents like this one." May 30 '20 at 7:12
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What works best for me is this approach:

Press Cmd-Alt-2 for thumbnails view
In thumbnails view press Cmd-A Cmd-C to select all pages and copy them to the clipboard. Then press Cmd-N to open a new document from the clipboard contents.

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PDFpen 11 seems to support vertical split view of the same pdf. https://smilesoftware.com/pdfpen/entry/new-pdfpen-11-split-view-font-bar-and-for-pro-users-enhancements-to-interactive-form-creation-and-editing

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  • Maybe, but in general the people search for free versions to do this. PDFpen is not is not free, even without editing mode Jul 17 at 18:45
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A very simple approach is to open the pdf using two different applications, say Safari and Preview (you can do this by option-clicking the document from Finder and selecting Open With -> <application> from the dropdown menu twice).
You can then use split view to view them side by side.
(Here's what it looks like)

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I suggest you use Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. After opening a PDF file, you just need to click "Split" under the menu "Window". This doesn't create a duplicate of your file and it splits the window just as in Word. Split window in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

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