5 Free Alternative PDF Viewers for Windows
There are many PDF viewers available for Windows. Though Adobe reader is still quite popular, it is not always the best. There are good alternatives which are small and can perform better than Adobe reader. Here are 5 alternative PDF viewers you might want to consider:
|Name||Current Version||Portable version||Setup size||Portable size|
|Foxit PDF Reader||5.3.1||Yes||14 MB||11.1 MB|
|Sumatra PDF Reader||2.1.1||Yes||4.3 MB||2.2 MB|
|Cool PDF||188.8.131.526||Yes||1.2 MB||809 KB|
|VS Expert PDF Reader||8.0.570||No||14 MB||-NA-|
|PDF-Xchange viewer||2.5.204||Yes||18.4 MB||7.8 MB|
|Adobe Reader||10.1.3||No||51.95 MB||-NA-|
Foxit PDF Reader
This is a very popular alternative. It is pretty feature rich and provides most of the tools one might need from a PDF reader. Comments and annotation tools are abundant.
However, since we are comparing, we would want to look at what sets this PDF reader apart. Foxit PDF Reader comes with a ribbon interface. However, as I have written earlier, this might not be a very a good idea. There is a reading option which reads out the pages aloud using the voices installed on your computer. Foxit Reader is also the first PDF reader to come with Social Network integration. You can share text from the file you are reading on Facebook and Twitter.
Foxit reader provides browser plugin only for Firefox.
Sumatra PDF Reader is a small, no-frills PDF Reader. It is not very feature rich, but again, it is not meant to be. Sumatra PDF Reader is most popular as a portable PDF reader because of its small footprint, the installed size is just about 4.7 MB. So you can carry it around in your pen drive and it will hardly seem to be there. It is just a PDF reader and does a good job of it. And it is pretty fast too.
One important point that deserves mention is the fact that SumatraPDF can not only display PDFs, but also CHM, XPS, DjVu, CBZ and CBR files. There’s versatility for you.
Cool PDF Reader is the smallest download of all, the only PDF Reader I found under one megabyte! The portable version is just 809 KB and is a single file, doesn’t need installation or extraction, just download and run.
However, even though I had read about it in a few places, I did not find it very usable. It is quite full of glitches. Scrolling is very slow and often doesn’t even work. Page resizing and zooming are painfully slow. I would only recommend this if you are in an urgent need of a PDF reader and cannot download a big software. Even then, Sumatra, at 2.2 MB, presents a very viable alternative.
VS eXPert PDF Reader
This is another PDF reader to come with a ribbon interface. It comes with the necessary tools for comments and annotations. I did not find any unique features that could set this viewer apart. I only listed this because I have used it for some time in the past. It is slow at startup and slow in opening documents. Not much recommended.
The only thing going in favour of this viewer is the ribbon interface. However, the download size is same as Foxit and the feature set is smaller. So I see no reason to use this instead of Foxit reader.
PDF Xchange viewer
This one is my absolute favourite. Comes with a huge feature set which threatens to beat any other PDF Reader out there. There are way too many things that set this reader apart and listing them all would simply not be possible. So instead, I would like to draw your attention to a few small things to help you understand the attention to detail that has been paid in developing this application.
- It comes with a plugin for all browsers. When you are viewing a PDF file in a browser, there is a small button in the bottom right that lets you open the file in the viewer, outside the browser, directly.
- All the annotation tools are customizable. You can change the colour, opacity, blending mode, line style etc. (wherever applicable)
- There is an email option in all PDF Readers, but this one also has a zip and email option
- You can pin files in the recent files list
- The bookmarks sidebar will display the full label of the bookmark in multiple lines, no matter how narrow it is made
- Apart from the full screen view, there is also a hide all toolbars mode that increases the vertical space on your screen
Apart from these, there are the extra features like the capability to export individual pages to image or the ability to change the security settings of the document or to add links at any place in the document etc. This one easily beats any PDF reader out there. Though, all this might have made this a bit slow, but you only feel this while scrolling large files. Opening documents and program startup time are very good. You can read the full review here.
So in my opinion, PDF Xchange viewer is the best option, while Foxit reader is a close second. If you need just a viewer or you need to download one quickly over a slow connection, Sumatra PDF Viewer is the right choice.
Tell us which PDF viewer you think is the best in the comments section below.