PDF Reader Alternatives

Filed under: Software Reviews 

Opening and viewing a PDF file requires Adobe Acrobat Reader. At least, that was always the case, and most people don’t know any better. But there are alternative programs that you can use to open and view a PDF file. With the Portable Document Format being such a popular format for eBooks, manuals and many other online documents, you want the best program for it.

One of the main reasons that other PDF reader programs have become available, is the fact that the Adobe Acrobat Reader has been increasing in size. The latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader is a download of almost 40 MB and the installed version takes up almost 90 MB of disk space. Not a big concern maybe if you have a fast internet connection and plenty of disk space, but speed is another factor.

Portable Document FormatOlder versions from the Acrobat Reader were small and fast, opening and viewing a PDF file was never a problem. With later versions, new features and functionality have increased the size, but also made the reader slower. Opening a PDF file takes longer. Sure, Adobe has developed a speed launcher (reader_sl.exe) that helps speed things up, but do we really want programs resident in memory just to be prepared when we open a PDF file?

PDF Reader Programs

In any case, if you are looking for an alternative to the Adobe Acrobat Reader, there are a number of options.

The first I mention is Sumatra PDF, which is a small and fast alternative for opening and viewing PDF files. No need to install even, you can run it from a USB stick! No extensive features, but good for viewing PDF files. The Download ZIP file is only 1 MB.

A second option is a program called Foxit Reader. Only a 7 MB download and 1o MB installed. And it supports annotations and forms processing.

Another simple and small PDF reader is PDF Reader 3.0 from CadKas. The download is less than 4 MB and even installed it is just 10 MB. It looks great and is very fast. Despite the limited size it has a rich set of features, including edit options. A nice addition is the file manager type of interface in which you can browse for PDF files.

If you really need to be able to convert PDF files, you can try CoolPDF Reader, which allows export to a number of formats, including image formats, and text (depending on the opened PDF file). There is a standalone version that is only 650 KB, which can easily be run from a USB stick.

The last option we mention is a new program from Nuance, called Nuance PDF Reader. A bit larger (18 MB download and almost 50 MB installed), and more features. You can convert the PDF to a number of formats, complete PDF forms, and add annotations. Still faster than the Adobe Acrobat Reader, but it seems they have tried to include a lot of similar PDF features, which makes the program larger and slower than the other alternates.


One Comment to “PDF Reader Alternatives”

  1. Ah I had no idea there were so many more options out there! Just goes to show how easy it is to stick with what you know and just accept it even if it isn´t the best.

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