Note: This question was asked here before, with no success.

Org-mode’s ability to display inline images is fantastic for writing my weekly scientific reports. I can include graphs, link them with their data, link with the conclusions, and really harness the power of org-mode.

The only problem I have is that org needs the images to use conventional image formats (jpeg, png, etc), while I prefer for my graphs to be in PDF.

How can I display inline pdf images in org-mode?

My final objective is to just write a link like this in org-mode:


And have it displayed inline just like it would happen if it were a png.

I know I could just have a copy of each graph in jpeg or something (which is what I do right now), but it’s slightly cumbersome and it always carries the risk of the pdf graph being updated and me forgetting to update the jpeg.

  • This might work as a solution: Going along the lines of endless/update-includes, if during before-save-hook, if you find a line with #+NAME or #+CAPTION with a tag like :convertfrompdf followed by a line with [[SOMEFILE.EXT]], then you execute the Imagemagick convert function to convert SOMEFILE.pdf to SOMEFILE.EXT. – Kaushal Modi Sep 28 '14 at 13:47
  • @kaushalmodi yeah. another option would be something that hooks into org-display-images. – Malabarba Sep 28 '14 at 14:48
  • A solution based on pdf-tools/poppler would be nice. – phils Apr 5 '17 at 4:03

NOTE: You need to have ImageMagick installed on your system (convert executable) for this solution to work.

How this solution is implemented

  • The function org-include-img-from-pdf is the workhorse that does the PDF to Image format conversion using convert.
  • If the org file contains # ()convertfrompdf:t, it will be assumed that the user has a pdf file that they want to convert to an image file. The user should put the above special comment above the image file link as shown in the below example.
  • The image file type is determined by the file extension in the bracket link [[./myimage.EXT]].

  • By adding the org-include-img-from-pdf function to the before-save-hook, that function is executed every time the user saves the file (See the elisp snippet following the function definition below).

Example setup

In this example setup I have the following files:

  • An org file like below that includes an image file.
  • The pdf file myimage.pdf.
# ()convertfrompdf:t

Function to auto convert pdf to image files

(defun org-include-img-from-pdf (&rest _)
  "Convert pdf files to image files in org-mode bracket links.

    # ()convertfrompdf:t # This is a special comment; tells that the upcoming
                         # link points to the to-be-converted-to file.
    # If you have a foo.pdf that you need to convert to foo.png, use the
    # foo.png file name in the link.
  (if (executable-find "convert")
        (goto-char (point-min))
        (while (re-search-forward "^[ \t]*#\\s-+()convertfrompdf\\s-*:\\s-*t"
                                  nil :noerror)
          ;; Keep on going to the next line till it finds a line with bracketed
          ;; file link.
          (while (progn
                   (forward-line 1)
                   (not (looking-at org-bracket-link-regexp))))
          ;; Get the sub-group 1 match, the link, from `org-bracket-link-regexp'
          (let ((link (match-string-no-properties 1)))
            (when (stringp link)
              (let* ((imgfile (expand-file-name link))
                     (pdffile (expand-file-name
                               (concat (file-name-sans-extension imgfile)
                                       "." "pdf")))
                     (cmd (concat "convert -density 96 -quality 85 "
                                  pdffile " " imgfile)))
                (when (and (file-readable-p pdffile)
                           (file-newer-than-file-p pdffile imgfile))
                  ;; This block is executed only if pdffile is newer than
                  ;; imgfile or if imgfile does not exist.
                  (shell-command cmd)
                  (message "%s" cmd)))))))
    (user-error "`convert' executable (part of Imagemagick) is not found")))

Hook setup to specify when to run this function

(defun my/org-include-img-from-pdf-before-save ()
  "Execute `org-include-img-from-pdf' just before saving the file."
    (add-hook 'before-save-hook #'org-include-img-from-pdf nil :local))
(add-hook 'org-mode-hook #'my/org-include-img-from-pdf-before-save)

;; If you want to attempt to auto-convert PDF to PNG  only during exports, and not during each save.
;; (with-eval-after-load 'ox
;;   (add-hook 'org-export-before-processing-hook #'org-include-img-from-pdf))

Code + MWE

  • Does this mean that an exported file uses the png instead of the pdf? – gdkrmr Jan 28 at 12:50

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