I am looking for a GUI program that opens a pdf from stdin.

For instance, if pdf_stdin is the command that opens my pdf from stdin, I'd like to use

  • ggp -d -r [email protected] encrypted.pdf.gpg -o - | pdf_stdin
  • man -t arpwatch | pdf_stdin
  • 1
    In general, it's unlikely, since PDFs are supposed to be read from the end, stackoverflow.com/a/11896942/2072269, and stdin from a pipe is not seekable, so once it reaches the end, unless it had the whole thing cached, it won't be able to display the rest of the PDF.
    – muru
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 10:17

1 Answer 1


Zathura (archwiki) is a minimalist document viewer (PDF/PS/Djvu/CB). It can display documents from stdin.

cat foo.pdf | zathura - 

The version on my system saves the pipe temporarily to /tmp, so the displayed document is seekable. The temporary file is cleaned up afterward and has reasonably secure permissions, but these could be security concerns.

$ ls -l /tmp/z*
-rw------- 1 user user 1640882 Mar 23 06:26 /tmp/zathura.stdin.97PFXY

It's available in the standard repositories on Arch, Debian and Ubuntu.

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