Is there a way to open two views of the same PDF in Preview (without creating two copies of the file), or perhaps split the window and show two different pages at the same time?

This is very useful when reading a paper which refers back to equations on previous pages.


From the Print dialogue choose the PDF button, Open PDF in Preview.

The temporary copy seems just to vanish when closed, as you would want; and it has the same name and location as the original. If you markup the new copy, it creates a duplicate with new name and you choose to save or not.


Opening the first one regularly and then using the open command, with the -n option, should do the trick.

To do so just:

  1. Open the Terminal.app
  2. type open -n and drap the file to the Terminal window. The full path of the file will appear after what you've typed.
  3. Hit enter.

The -noption opens a new instance of the application (in this case the default one, as no other is specified), even if one is already running.

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    Excellent! Is there a GUI way to do this? Would services be the way to set it up (if I use it often)? (New OS X user) – Szabolcs Nov 27 '12 at 14:29
  • @Szabolcs It will be an approach, indeed. – Thecafremo Nov 27 '12 at 14:37
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    In case someone doesn't know, you can select the file in Finder, press Cmd+c, open the Terminal, write open -n and press Cmd+v to paste the path – nachocab May 12 '15 at 13:33

Skim has menu items for marking a page and going back to a marked page. You can assign shortcuts to them in System Preferences.

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    It seems Skim has a split view too. It's probably better to use Skim instead of preview. Thanks for the suggestion! – Szabolcs Nov 29 '12 at 16:37
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    More directly in Skim, one can hold the Cmd key and click somewhere in your document. A new "view"/window will open centered on where you clicked and both windows can now scroll independently. – Sam Mason Jan 28 '14 at 11:29

One other solution would be use your browser to open the PDF file. For me is common to use chrome for reading a PDF when I want 2 instances of the file. I also believe that is faster to search a word in a large PDF file using the browser than the PDF software.


The combination of Copy and New from Clipboard lets you open any part of the PDF in a new window (with the caveat that it's not a view in the sense that modifications do not propagate to the original document). Use rectangular selection to select the part of the PDF you want in a separate window , e.g. a figure or chart, or select a whole page, and hit command-c-command-n.

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