PDF files are extremely widely used. Whether it’s some sort of document, article or a digital book, PDF is often the preferred format for the task. If your work or pastime frequently includes handling PDF files, you might benefit from getting a proper software tool that is specifically designed to open and sometimes edit such documents. Depending on what you are actually looking for, there are a lot of different options when it comes to choosing an appropriate PDF program. Therefore, we have created this article in order to present you with the top 10 free PDF readers (and editors) with a brief review of their features and capabilities so that you can quickly and easily determine which one would best suit your needs. The first half of our suggestions will be focused on software that gives a fair amount of different options, both for reading and editing your documents. In the second half, we will present you with several lighter PDF readers that, above all, are designed to provide you with speed and simplicity, while also being easy on your machine’s CPU and RAM.
Top 10 free PDF readers for Windows
1. Adobe Acrobat Reader
Chances are this is the first program that comes to your mind when you think about a PDF reader. There are several reasons for that. First of all Adobe Systems are the actual creators of the PDF format. Their Adobe Acrobat is currently one of the most popular readers out there. The tool itself is not the fastest one out there, but it has a wide variety of neat features. Apart from many options that improve your reading experience such as bookmarks and tabbed interface, there are also editing functions that allow you to directly change the documents within the reader. However, for the extra editing functions you’d have to download plug-ins that are paid. Still, the reader itself is free and gives you more than enough options.
2. Foxit Reader
Another very popular, heavy-weight PDF reader. Foxit comes packed with several very useful features such as built-in annotation support and the ability to share your PDF files through e-mail and Evernote. Foxit can handle all sorts of PDF documents regardless of how heavy they are. It has several reading modes and many helpful reading functions. Also, it has certain editing capabilities if that’s what you are looking for. The interface of Foxit is ribbon-based, similar to that of Microsoft Word, which makes it feel familiar and easy-to-use. Additionally, there is a Safe Reading mode that provides users with some extra protection against potential malware threats, which is always a good thing. If you want to convert other text files to PDF and vice versa, there are downloadable extensions online that would add this feature to Foxit Reader.
- When installing Foxit, keep in mind that it has an added toolbar within the setup wizard, so if you do not want that added to your browser, make sure to uncheck it before actually installing the program.
3. XChannge Viewer/Editor
It’s a faster, lighter Reader in comparison to the previous two. However, it still provides you with quite a few handy features, like the option to insert or extract pages or the tracked comments function. The OCR function is one of the best things about XChange Reader, which allows you to scan printed documents and convert the text in them into an editable format. However, to access any of the functions marked as pro would require of you to buy the paid version of the program.
- Note that during the installation, you have the option to untick the features that you do not want to install. You might want to customize the installation, since there are quite a few add-ons that not everyone would like to have added to their PC.
4. Nitro PDF Reader
Similarly to Foxit Reader, Nitro has a similar interface to that of the Microsoft Office programs, which makes it easy and simple to use.
It has a couple of unique features, such as the QuickSign option that enables you to create a digital image of your signature and later add it to your documents. There’s also the highlight option and the ability to add sticky notes. Additionally, you can convert a huge variety of other file formats to PDF and vice versa. With Nitro PDF Reader, you also get the option to extract images from PDF documents, which further adds to the great versatility of this neat software tool. A great choice for anyone who wants to have a powerful PDF tool that has a good variety of additional features.
5. Icecream Ebook Reader
This trusty ebook can open a variety of different formats including PDF, which makes it a great PDF viewer tool. It’s interface and features are focused on providing the user with the best reading experience. At first, the overall look of the program might seem a bit odd, however, it is quite easy to get used to.
With Icecream you have the ability to manage and add files to your own digital library, turn pages, translate text, add notes, etc. It is easy to use and navigate through the program and you can choose from several different viewing modes. File conversion is also a possible option with Icecream Ebook Reader.
6. Expert Reader
This is a lighter-weight reader, that allows for some great speed, while also providing the user with some basic editing options. It is a balanced alternative between the more robust tools we have already mentioned and the really light programs that we are about to cover next.
Expert Reader has all that you might need for your reading purposes, such as a tabbed interface, bookmark support and pages. Also, as we mentioned, there are even some options for editing like highlighting, sticky notes and digital signatures. If you are looking for a medium type of PDF reader that also has some additional features, Expert Reader is a good and reliable option.
7. Sumatra PDF
Now, on to the super light PDF Readers, Sumatra is a tool specifically programmed for providing fast and easy access to PDF files. It lacks any sophisticated features, instead it loads the files pretty much instantaneously. In order to make looking through a document even more efficient and quick, this program has a bunch of key shortcuts, which enables users to quickly find what they are looking for. Additionally, Sumatra can open a number of other file formats, such as DJVU, CBR, MOBI and CHM. It can also open several documents at once in different tabs. This makes it one of the best lighter PDF readers that requires almost no effort from your machine.
8. SlimPDF Reader
This is yet another simple and easy to use light-weight reader. Its interface is self-explanatory and the lack of any fancy features makes the program a perfect choice for a dedicated PDF viewer tool. If speed is what you are looking for, this piece of software should do just fine. It also takes up extremely little space on your hard-drive with its 1.43 MB of required storage space. The only actual shortcoming of this program is its inability to look at two different pages in a spread-view mode.
9. Google Chrome
You might be wondering what would a browser be doing in an article about PDF readers. Well, even though Chrome is not a dedicated PDF reader tool, it has an integrated feature that allows users to open this type of files. It is very helpful if you are in a hurry and you do not have an actual reader on your PC. Simply open the PDF file using your Chrome browser and it should be displayed on your screen as a Chrome tab. In order to open the document with your browser, here is what you need to do:
- Right-click on the file.
- Select Open With.
- Click on Choose a default program.
- Find Chrome, select it and then click on OK.
And there you have it. Of course, the capabilities of Chrome when it comes to handling PDF files are quite limited, but it is still a very useful feature, especially if you do not feel like installing a dedicated reader tool.
10. Microsoft Edge
Similarly to Chrome, the new Microsoft browser for the latest Windows OS – Win 10, provides the user with the ability to access PDF documents without the need for an actual program for the task. Again, there are not many options to choose from, however, if you are looking for a simple reader that would allow quick access to PDF files, without the need to install any additional software – Microsoft Edge is a perfect choice. What’s even better is the fact that, unlike Chrome, you don’t even need to manually download the browser, since it comes pre-installed with your Windows 10 OS.