Previous View (Alt + Left) is My Favorite Adobe Reader Keyboard Shortcut

This shortcut key will change your life (presuming that your life involves lots of PDFs…).

There are a few shortcut keys that are a lingua franca among applications — CTRL + C, CTRL + V, CTRL + X, ALT + F4, ALT + TAB, to name a few. Recently, I’ve added a new favorite keyboard shortcut to my vocabulary: ALT + LEFT.

In Adobe Reader, ALT + LEFT instantly takes you back to your “Previous View.” Consider it a back button for a PDF.

So, let’s say you are in a Table of Contents and you click a hyperlink that takes you to Chapter 6.

Want to go back to the Table of Contents? Just hit ALT + LEFT and zip, you’re there.

ALT + RIGHT does the opposite. It takes you to your “Next View” in the same way that the Forward button in a web browser works. In fact, ALT + LEFT and ALT + FORWARD are also universal web browser keyboard shortcuts, though they take you back and forward on a per URL basis.

In Adobe Reader, Previous View and Next View don’t just apply to pages. Let’s say you’re looking at a huge engineering drawing and you zoom way in on a detail. Here, ALT + LEFT will return you to your previous zoom level. You can also right-click and choose Previous View to do the same thing.

It seems like a little thing, but as someone who looks at PDFs all day long for hours on end, yes… I know…  I find this tip immensely useful. It works in other popular PDF programs like Bluebeam Revu, too.

In macOS, the keyboard shortcut is COMMAND + LEFT and COMMAND + RIGHT. This works in Adobe Reader for Mac, but sadly, no equivalent exists in Preview as far as I can tell.

Now that I know this keyboard shortcut exists in Adobe Reader, I use it all the time. I used to literally write down a page number I was on, go to a new page, and then manually type in the page I was on to go back. Now I just press ALT + LEFT and I’m back. I wish all programs had this feature. While we’ve covered Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts before on groovyPost, I still hadn’t come across this one.  In Word, the closest I can get to replicating this is to type something and then immediately press CTRL + Z to undo my typing in order to jump back to where my cursor is.

Anyway, I hope you find this as useful as I do. Or maybe I’m the only one who looks at 1,000+ page PDFs on a regular basis…

Do you have a favorite keyboard shortcut? As you can tell, I’d LOVE to hear about it! Drop it in the comments and join the discussion.



  1. Fraser MacDonald

    February 7, 2018 at 11:33 am

    Thank you for this, will be a great asset.

  2. Chris Satterlee

    September 20, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    Mac Preview does have equivalents:
    COMMAND + [
    COMMAND + ]

  3. Alfred N

    January 31, 2024 at 1:37 am

    This is very useful. A question please – is there a hyperlink based on Alt +LEFT command that I can create so that a reader can simply press this link in case one wants to go back to current position?

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