[Feature Request] Preview references or Figures in Build-in PDF reader.


The new pdf reader is fantastic and nearly meets all my need, thank you!

And, I wonder if it is possible to preview references or figures in the pdf reader?

I mean, when I click a link which points to a figure below or above, a hover window will be popped up to show the figure and the caption, instead of jumping to the figure. The same applies to references.

This feature will be of great help since we do not need to scroll the paper up and down any more.

Some pdf readers have implemented this feature. It will be great if Zotero could support it.

  • Can you provide an example of a PDF reader that implements this? You're saying it's showing the actual figure in a popup, not just the page on which the figure appears?
  • edited November 26, 2021
    Yes, showing the actual figure in a popup.

    ReadCube supports previewing figures and references for papers published by Springer.
    A demo is available here:

    Scholarphi supports previewing references for some arXiv papers.
    A demo is available here:
  • Nothing like that exists in Zotero currently. To be clear, that's not something "PDF readers" (e.g., Adobe Acrobat) do — that's specialized functionality those tools have created for academic PDFs. There's no general mechanism for specifying figures or references in a PDF, so any solution would require doing deep analysis of the PDF file. It's an interesting concept and is something we could consider, but it's certainly not a simple thing.
  • Thank you for your reply and glad to know this feature will be considered :)
  • evince has a similar "preview link thumbnail" feature that creates a thumbnail when hovering over an internal link. I've found it incredibly useful to quickly preview the target of an internal link without having to click back and forth.

  • @kennethhsu Thank you for your recommendation :) Sadly this feature is only available in v3.38+, which is not available in Windows.

  • @kennethhsu: That's a preview of the full width of the target page, though, right? We could do that more easily, but it doesn't seem all that much more useful than just clicking the link and using the Back keyboard shortcut to get back (or clicking some sort of back button that could pop up).
  • @dstillman Is it possible to create a draggable, resizable and scrollable popup? No need to display the figure exactly as we could do it ourselves.
  • @martynas_b would have to comment on the feasibility of that. Again, though, you can always just click and then use the keyboard shortcut to go back.
  • yep, jumping to and jumping back is a reasonable workflow. But it is not convenient enough if we want to check both the figure and the context where the figure is cited.
  • Often, we need to read the paper word for word to understand the author and it will be helpful if we have a figure alongside, instead of jumping to the figure then jumping back.
  • Yes, from the technical perspective it's possible to show a page in a popup when an internal link is hovered, but, unfortunately, the bigger part of PDFs don't have internal links. If we would want to overcome this, it's necessary to analyze the whole PDF and then try to match figures in text.
  • @dstillman linked here from this thread about split viewing pdfs: https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/comment/405162#Comment_405162 but I don't think this thread is quite about the same issue. As I understand it, this thread is about a technically rather complex solution for previewing figures, tables, and references whereas the other thread was about allowing users to simultaneously view different parts of the pdf (split-view).
  • edited April 12, 2022
    @haug: There are various other threads requesting a split view, but that's a more general request. This thread is about the specific problem of previewing references quickly, which was the underlying problem in the other thread. There are varying levels of complexity for various potential solutions (e.g., an initial version might only work for PDFs with internal links). The point is just that we're aware of the issue.
  • This would also be a very nice feature for math-heavy articles since equation references are usually hyperlinked. Being able to hover and see the referenced equation would greatly improve reading flow and would be one of the best features if
    implemented IMO. This would be the only feature dearly missing when compared to closed source and expensive products like readcube...
  • Not the perfect popup solution, but there is a plugin that opens the split view and navigates to the anchor when clicking a hyperlink. https://github.com/MuiseDestiny/zotero-reference
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