Having a free PDF reader is essential at the very least for being able to open your documents containing important information, however there are PDF readers out there that can do much more than this. The high-end PDF readers will split, merge, protect, convert and edit your documents. Most people are only familiar with the popular Adobe Acrobat Reader, so here we will introduce you some other great programs that are available for free. We tried to collect free PDF readers from both ends of the spectrum: from the most basic, lightweight ones to the feature-packed, more advanced tools. You will find both PDF reader online and PDF reader offline applications in the list.
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC
Adobe Acrobat’s Reader is one of the few free PDF viewers that has been available since the invention of the PDF format. It has since become the gold standard for managing PDF files. The free PDF opener version of the program allows you to view, print, share and add comments to your documents. One of the notable features of the newest release of the program is that you can now also add sticky notes to your document and also highlight text. Adobe Acrobat Reader is also known for its simple interface that significantly shortens the learning curve for the program.
One of the most versatile and easy-to-use PDF readers out there. Apart from being able to view your PDFs with Foxit Reader, you will be able to add comments, sign, protect and share your documents. If you want to convert your PDFs to a different format, with Foxit Reader’s downloadable add-ons you will also be able to do this easily. If you are familiar with the interface of Microsoft Word, you will have no trouble using Foxit Reader. The downside of the program, however, is that unless you purchase the Pro version, a watermark is placed on your documents.
Nitro PDF Reader
Nitro PDF Reader is yet another software closely resembling Microsoft Office’s programs and it offers plenty of functions that make it stand out among other PDF file readers. With Nitro you can fill in forms and sign PDFs, add notes, highlight text, and extract images from your documents. Nitro also has a built-in conversion tool that lets you extract the text from your PDF by converting it to a plain text file. Unfortunately, even the free version requires users to register before using the program and it still comes with a number of limitations compared to its paid counterpart.
Nuance PDF Reader
Nuance PDF Reader is a light PDF reader software compared to Adobe Acrobat, but still it does not fall short its functions and capabilities. Nuance PDF Reader lets you view your documents in the program’s interface or in your browser. The additional features Nuance offers are printing, sharing, verifying digital signatures, adding comments and highlights, and conversion to various Office doc formats. A unique feature that must be mentioned is Nuance’s newly developed “Looks Like Search” which lets you search phone numbers and email addresses easily with the built-in pattern recognition technology.
SumatraPDF is a minimalist PDF viewer that is only capable of doing the most simple tasks. SumatraPDF opens PDFs and eBook files in a flash in a separate window, so it is a great alternative to viewing your documents in your browser. To speed up the PDF viewing process even farther, SumatraPDF lets you set up shortcuts for the various tasks. SumatraPDF also has a portable app for users that want to open PDFs on the go easily. Overall, SumatraPDF is a great solution for PDF viewing if lightweightness and portability are important factors for you.
PDF-XChange Editor is claimed to be the smallest and fastest PDF management tool. It comes with a number of high-end features that can only be found in the best converters on the market. Some more advanced function are marked “Pro” and are unfortunately only available for paid users, but luckily, the software’s killer feature, the built-in OCR technology is free and lets you convert scanned PDFs to editable text formats. Although the interface of the program is not difficult to familiarize yourself with, the features of the program are well documented and there is a lot of help available online.
The first software on our list that was designed specifically for Mac users. Preview comes built-in with all computers with a Mac OS X operating system (not PDF viewer Windows), and it boasts a number of advanced features that you will not usually get with standard PDF readers. With Preview you can add comments, rearrange the pages of your document and many more. A unique feature making Preview a premium category PDF reader is its built-in technology capable of capturing electronic signatures directly from your webcam. If you are the owner of a Mac computer, Preview should be your number one choice for viewing and performing basic editing tasks on your documents.
SlimPDF Reader is the ultimate lightweight and easy PDF reader that takes up only 1.43MB of your memory. In terms of functions though, as we would expect, it cannot do much more than view, print, search and rotate your documents. The program is 100% free and you do not have to download any add-ons once it is installed. Simplicity was also one of the main objectives of the developers, so navigation and controls are well labeled and easy to use. If you are a user that does not need all the fancy editing tools and prefer lightning fast PDF viewing, then SlimPDF Reader is definitely the right tool for you.
SODA PDF FREE READER
SODA’s PDF Reader is a versatile piece of software offering a wide range of functions that let you take full control of your documents. If at first the interface seems familiar to you, it is because it has been design to closely resemble that of the Microsoft Office suite programs. Soda PDF Reader supports multiple document viewing via its tabbed viewing function, you can add various shapes, lines and text to your document and SODA also includes a built-in converter which lets you convert between various document formats. If you are constantly on the go or working online, then SODA has a simplified online version of its PDF Reader as well. Unfortunately, the premium version of the program is quite expensive.
As the name suggests, PDFOnlineReader is an online tool for viewing your documents in your browser. No fancy functions for this one, but nevertheless it is a useful basic PDF reader if you want to view documents on the go. The three main features that should be highlighted when talking about PDFOnlineReader is that you can add annotations to your documents, you can highlight parts of it and you can add internal or external hyperlinks to the contents of your PDF. After you have finished editing your PDF, you also have the ability to download it directly to your computer. Keep in mind that this is only a beta version of the tool, so we might be expecting some future improvements to PDFOnlineReader.
As you were able to see from the wide range of PDF document readers introduced above, PDF readers come in many different types in terms of their performance and features and therefore it is important that you not only choose one based on the reviews provided here, but you experiment with a couple of them until you find the one that best matches your needs. We hope that we have managed to cover all the best PDF reader software but because there are so many we definitely did not manage to review all free PDF reader software. If functionality is an important factor for you and you are looking for a PDF viewer that incorporates all PDF related functions into one single tool, then be sure to check out AceThinker’s PDF Writer.