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

    Thank you for this, will be a great asset.

  2. Chris Satterlee

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

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