MuPDF prides itself in being a simple, lightweight and fast PDF reader. It’s also completely free and open source software that is available for Windows, Android and iOS devices. MuPDF’s simplicity may go a bit too far, however, making it unintuitive to use and better suited for more technical users.
What MuPDF PDF Reader does best
For just viewing a PDF file on your computer as quickly as possible, MuPDF works great. Because it’s such a lightweight and fast program it’s good for lower end Windows computers that might struggle with more advanced PDF software.
The Windows version of MuPDF doesn’t need to be installed first to be run, you can just download it from the official website and then extract it to a folder from the compressed file. This allows MuPDF to be a portable program. You can put it on a USB drive and run it from that drive on any compatible computer.
MuPDF also provides the ability to convert files to and from PDF, which is rare for a free program. However, this converting functionality and other tools are command line tools, which means they require using the command prompt.
MuPDF’s main advantages are its simplicity and portability, but it does have other features as well, including being able to open XPS, CBZ, EPUB, and FB2 documents in addition to PDFs. While not having much of a user interface beyond opening files, there are several keyboard shortcuts that can be used which give much of the same functionality as other PDF viewers.
These keyboard shortcuts include going forward and backward through pages with the , and . keys, zooming in and out with the + and – keys, switching to fullscreen mode with the F key and rotating pages with the bracket ([ and ]) keys. The annotate feature can be brought up with the A key and allows you to add text and various shapes to the document.
Certain functions can also be used by holding Shift before pressing a key, like the I key which enables the fairly unique inverted color mode while Shift is held, or shows information on the open file when pressed without it. There’s also a tinted color mode that can be toggled with Shift and C, which gives a yellowish tint to the open document that can make it easier on your eyes. There are several other functions that can be found in the official documentation.
As mentioned before, MuPDF also offers a conversion tool which can convert a few different file types, such as PDF to CBZ, or vice-versa. This is a command line tool, meaning you’ll need to access it with Command Prompt in Windows and type in commands to use it.
MuPDF is completely free software, including all of the desktop and mobile versions.
What users have to say about MuPDF PDF Reader
Unsurprisingly, some of the most often mentioned things about MuPDF are that it’s simple and lightweight. Many users like that MuPDF makes just opening a PDF file quick and easy, but are also disappointed or confused by its lack of user interface.
Some desktop users weren’t even aware that MuPDF had zoom or annotation functions, likely due to the lack of clickable interface. Even changing pages needs to be done through keyboard shortcuts, information on which can only be found with the online documentation.
MuPDF is available to download on Windows through their official website and in a few different versions on the Apple and Android app stores, like MuPDF which is the full version with features like annotations and form filling, or the slimmed down versions MuPDF Viewer and MuPDF mini.
MuPDF is also available on macOS and Linux devices, but requires building it from the source code. This is of course something not most people know how to do.
MuPDF’s simplicity and speed make it a good program for quickly opening and viewing PDFs on a variety of devices, but it’s lack of visual user interface and requiring fairly advanced technical know-how for some of its features makes it not suitable for everyone.
Our score: ★★★☆☆ 3/5