I'm looking for a PDF reader that is both light weight and automatically updates the PDF to pickup background changes (e.g. when a LaTeX file is edited and compiled). There are two very good choices that fit the requirements but the auto refresh capabilities come with a minor hindrance in each:

  • Preview — The background modifications are not picked up until the app regains focus. This is quite annoying when working if I need to keep tabbing/clicking to Preview and back to pick up the changes.

  • Skim — A confirmation dialog pops up the first time, asking what it should do with the background changes. Clicking "Auto" makes it behave exactly like I want. However, if I happen to close the window, it prompts you for the confirmation again.

At this point, I'd even be happy with a solution that "fixes" the problem in either of these apps. If there was some way to make Skim not ask any confirmation at all (forever use "Auto") or ask it just once per file and not per window, it would be perfect.

If this is not possible, recommendations for alternate viewers are welcome. I do not require any other features typical in PDF readers, such as annotations, tabbed reading, bookmarks, etc.

1 Answer 1


You can configure Skim to do this by executing

defaults write -app Skim SKAutoReloadFileUpdate -boolean true

Which is a hidden preference:

When this is true, and Skim checks for file updates on disk, the document is automatically reloaded without asking when there are no notes or edits. We don't recommend using this.

Note: Preferences → Sync → Check for file changes needs to be enabled if you haven’t already done so.

(I've tested this with Skim 1.4.8 and TL2013).

  • 1
    I don't know why you were downvoted, but this works exactly as I had requested! Thanks :)
    – rm -rf
    May 15, 2014 at 2:53

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