Tuesday, June 15, 2021

11 Best Free PDF Readers for Windows and macOS in 2020

Quite a bit old, the PDF document format is one of the most popular extensions used for viewing and editing documents, worldwide.

From bank statements to payment receipts, official reports to organization notices, business contracts to e-books, almost everything is a .pdf and for all these reasons, it becomes so important to choose the right PDF Reader too.

Most of the time, we have built-in or pre-installed software on our gadget, to view and access PDFs. However, specifically designed PDF readers available in the market have a lot more advantages to them and can be beneficial in terms of technical features and usability.

Like when it comes to security and protection, not all PDF Readers would provide you with that feature. While in cases like when you want to submit your project reports or assignments in the form of a PDF file, you can still work well without password protection.

But when it comes to documents like legal contracts, official and confidential records, adding a password just becomes necessary.

In the case of collaborative projects, you might need a cloud-based pdf editor so that multiple people can access the document at the same time. So, based upon the type of your document and its further usage, you might require a specific PDF viewer and editor and choosing that can be a tough job.

So, below here is a list of the 11 best PDF Readers along with their key features, pros, and cons so that you can easily select which software is ideal for you and your device.

1. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

Adobe Acrobat Reader DCAdobe Inc. is the computer software company that originally created the file format which stands for Portable Document Format. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC their very own PDF reader which is easily available on their official website for free.

However, another version of this software which is called Adobe Acrobat Reader DC Pro is a paid version but you can initially purchase a free trial. Some of the features are only available if you purchase the paid version.

Adobe Acrobat DC is also one of the best pdf editors online, you can check some other best pdf editors here.

Key Features:

  1. Create, view, share and print PDFs
  2. Get e-signatures
  3. Track responses in real-time
  4. Collect Feedback
  5. Convert PDF file to Word, PowerPoint or excel format
  6. Convert Word, PowerPoint or Excel file to PDF format
  7. Merge multiple PDF files into one
  8. Add password protection for security purposes

Pros:

  • The software is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • It is also available as an app for IOS and Android.
  • It is easy to access and share files anywhere with the help of Adobe Document Cloud.
  • Files can also be stored and accessed in Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive.
  • The user interface is easy to understand and learn.
  • It provides easy annotation and collaborative features that allow online sharing, multiple reviews, and comments.

Cons:

  • Many features are only available under a paid version i.e. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC Pro.
  • Some features have a limited usage if you install a free version.
  • The paid version is very expensive.

2. Foxit Reader

Foxit Reader Free PDF Reader

Foxit is basically like the Google Docs of PDFs. With thousands of useful features and cloud facilities, it is the best option in case of collaborative projects.

Whether you want to give access to multiple people to view and edit the pdf or keep a track of who opens it and what changes they do, Foxit is here to help you.

It can also be used to send notifications to the users whenever you update the PDF file. It can also be used to send document requests to your partners and colleagues.

Key Features:

  1. Create and share PDFs on cloud
  2. Upload scans and convert to PDF
  3. Convert PowerPoint, word, excel file to PDF
  4. Merge multiple PDFs into one
  5. Easy to collaborate and track edits, comments, and other activities
  6. Security protection through various options like password, encryption and digital signatures

Pros:

  • The software is robust and free.
  • It is cloud-based and available for Windows as well as for Mac operating systems.
  • It has an online ConnectedPDF Document Management System for easy collaboration.
  • When it comes to comparing it with Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, it is lighter and much faster.

Cons:

  • The plugins available for creating PDF only work for 32-bit version MS Office.
  • The subscription for the paid version is quite expensive.

3. Nitro Reader

Nitro Reader

 

Nitro is one of the most popular PDF readers, used worldwide. It is an accurate blend of interactive UI and useful technical features. It just includes what most of the users wish for, leaving the unnecessary features behind.

Nitro allows you to control the people who can access your PDFs and you can do this by issuing them a digital security certificate, it can also be used for converting your pdfs into other formats.

Key Features:

  1. Allows designing a PDF draft with custom formatting
  2. Features like passwords and digital signature ensure security
  3. Wide variety of tools for editing, reviewing and creating PDFs are available
  4. Allows comments and feedbacks
  5. Nitro Cloud helps in easy collaboration and sharing
  6. Allows merging multiple PDF files

Pros:

  • The user interface has a drag and drops features plus it is easy to use and understand.
  • Its clean and neat interface is very much similar to any other MS Office application.
  • Nitro Reader makes sharing PDFs easy and secure.
  • It helps us create PDFs that are compatible with almost every other PDF reader.

Cons:

  • The software frequently crashes.
  • It is available at a quite high price.
  • It does not convert MS Office documents to PDFs properly leaving behind errors sometimes.

4. Microsoft PDF Reader

Microsoft PDF Reader

Microsoft PDF Reader is developed by the leading software firm Microsoft. Hence, you can expect it to be user friendly and robust.

It allows you to read, annotate, and share Adobe Acrobat PDF documents located on your computers and smartphones.

The latest update of Microsoft PDF Reader also provides a brand new freehand drawing and writing experience, which is quite interesting.

Key Features:

  1. Ribbon Style Menu for easy navigation
  2. Simple to use
  3. Allows pasting approved stamps and adding sticky notes
  4. Converts other file formats to PDF
  5. Allows password protection for PDF files
  6. Share files easily by sending download links
  7. Convert PDF files to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other file formats.

Pros:

  • It provides easy access and file management.
  • Available for smartphones also.
  • It has a night mode for providing a better reading experience to the user.
  • Easy to use as all other Microsoft applications.
  • Its user interface is clean and interactive.

Cons:

  • It is available only for Windows OS.
  • It is not available for the 32-bit version.

5. Sumatra PDF

Sumatra PDF Free PDF Reader

Sumatra is an open-source free software that is used extensively around the globe. It is lighter and faster, its installer is just 5MB in size, yes you read it correctly.

You can use various keyboard shortcuts to navigate through the document making the reading experience much easier.

Key Features:

  1. Various documents viewing options
  2. Makes document navigation easy
  3. Lighter and faster
  4. Allows previewing LaTeX documents too

Pros:

  • You can customize the software according to your need.
  • It is available in 69 different languages.
  • It is totally free of cost.
  • It has an elegant interface and starts quickly.

Cons:

  • The fonts are not much interactive and clean.
  • It is difficult to find options and menus.
  • It is available for Windows operating systems only.
  • It lacks features like annotations and signatures.

6. Google Drive

It is basically an online PDF reader that is readily available for use and no installation on your own system is required. With no advanced features, it can perform just the simpler tasks as compared to other PDF readers available.

It can be a good choice if you are not interested in doing much-advanced work with your pdf files because it includes just the basic features.

Key Features:

  1. Converts other file formats like Word documents, PowerPoint presentations or excel sheets to pdf file
  2. Can be used for storing PDFs

Pros:

  • It is simple and easy to use.
  • It requires no installation or downloads.

Cons:

  • It can perform just the task of viewing, converting and storing pdf and that’s all.
  • No advanced features are available.

7. Web Browser

Yes, your web browser can be used for reading PDFs. Some of the examples of such web browsers are Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Safari.

To be precise, it is only and only a ‘PDF Reader’ which means it can not perform any other editing or advanced operations.

You can easily use your web browser as a PDF reader by clicking the link of the PDF online. When you need to open a PDF file that is located on your local device, just drag and drop it into the open tab in your browser and you are ready to go.

Pros:

  • Again, it requires no additional downloads or installations.
  • This can be used as a quick way when all you have to do is view a PDF document.
  • You can rotate, zoom in or out, adjust the text size and print the document.

Cons:

  • No advanced operations can be performed.

8. PDF-XChange Editor

PDF-XChange Editor

Earlier called PDF-XChange Viewer, this PDF reader for Windows 10 is now available in a much more simplified version.

PDF-XChange Editor is a robust free PDF reader available easily for installation. If creating, editing, and sharing too many PDFs is your job, this software is made for you.

Key Features:

  1. Create, view, add notes
  2. Record and Attach audio files
  3. Highlight text
  4. Strikethrough words
  5. Add digital signatures
  6. Print and annotate features

Pros:

  • It has an Optical Character Recognition tool which performs the task of scanning printed documents and converts them into the searchable text format.
  • Allows saving images and text from a PDF document.
  • It includes more than 60% of the features available with its paid version.
  • It provides a lighter and faster reading experience.

Cons:

  • It is available for Windows only.
  • The user interface is clean but not very beautiful and a bit messy.

9. Javelin PDF Reader

Javelin PDF Reader Free PDF Reader

The Javelin PDF Reader installer just costs 2 MB and is quite lightweight and fast. It contains all the basic operations one would require for using PDFs on a daily basis.

Key Features:

  1. Provides markups and annotation
  2. Can open DRM directed files
  3. Launch and print standard and encrypted PDFs
  4. Allows bookmarking Pdfs

Pros:

  • The user interface is neat and clean.
  • It’s lightweight and super fast.
  • It is free and easy to work with.

Cons:

  • It does not have advanced editing features.

10. MuPDF

MuPDF

MuPDF is a free PDF reader that can be basically used for performing standard operations for viewing and editing PDF files. It is lightweight and requires very less amount of storage of your device. It is a faster and easier PDF reader, you can use for doing basic chores.

Key Features:

  1. View and edit PDF files
  2. Annotate documents
  3. Convert PDF file format to HTML, SVG, and CBZ files
  4. Allows writing Javascript scripts to edit documents

Pros:

  • It is lighter and not clumsy.
  • It is available for Windows and Android.
  • It is easy to use.
  • It consists of almost all the basic features a user would need.
  • It also supports some keyboard shortcuts.

Cons:

  • The zoom feature is not perfect.
  • The user interface is not very interactive and beautiful.

11. Slim PDF

Slim PDF

As the name suggests, this PDF reader can be actually called the smallest PDF reader of all. It just requires 15MB of your storage memory. Contrary to being smaller in size, it still includes most of the advanced features required for working with PDFs.

It can be a good choice if you have a Windows OS.

Key Features:

  1. Print, zoom and rotate PDF documents
  2. Lightweight and powerful
  3. Portable and fast.

Pros:

  • It is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac.
  • It has a simple and easy to learn User Interface.
  • It also has a dark mode making it more useful.

Cons:

  • It does not support many of the keyboard shortcuts.

Other Honorable Mentions:

While the list above includes the best PDF Readers available in the market, if you want to search more and are not satisfied with either of these, here are a few other names that you might consider giving a look.

  • Skim
  • Preview
  • Soda PDF
  • PDF Reader Premium
  • Expert PDF Reader

Read more: 7 Best PDF splitter tools in 2020

Conclusion

  • Adobe Inc. is a computer software company that originally created the PDF file format.
  • Foxit is basically like the Google Docs of PDFs. With thousands of useful features and cloud facilities.
  • Nitro Reader allows designing a PDF draft with custom formatting
  • Microsoft PDF Reader allows you to read, annotate, and share Adobe Acrobat PDF documents located on your computers and smartphones.
  • Sumatra is an open-source free software that is used extensively around the globe.
  • Google drive is basically an online PDF reader that is readily available for use and no installation on your own system is required.
  • Your web browser can be used for reading PDFs
  • If creating, editing, and sharing too many PDFs is your job, then PDF-XChange Reader is made for you.
  • The Javelin PDF Reader installer just costs 2 MB and is quite lightweight and fast.
  • MuPDF is a free PDF reader that can be basically used for performing standard operations for viewing and editing PDF files.
  • Slim PDF reader can be actually called the smallest PDF reader of all.

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