One of the document formats that we will come across most often and we will have to work on the PDFs, originally created with print in mind, but they have known how to adapt to the WWW revolution.
But, to work with them, we will need our PDF viewer to adjust to our needs and those of our team, so we are going to review what some of the most popular free options offer us.
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is the undisputed leader in the industry, the software that we will find in most PCs equipped with Windows to view, comment, print and sign PDFs.
It is backed by being an Adobe creation, the creators of the PDF format itself. Intuitive to use, although more demanding on resources than its competitors.
The ‘DC’ in the name is a reference to ‘Document Cloud’, the cloud service that Adobe provides for free to back up and share our documents.
SumatraPDF is a document reader (and not just PDF, because it also supports others like EPUB, MOBI, DjVu, FB2, CHM, CBR or CBZ) lightweight and open source.
Compared to some of its competitors, it stands out for your bet on keyboard shortcuts to improve our reading experience, as well as for its performance. It has a portable version ideal to carry on our USB.
One of its most interesting features is the power set bookmarks to remember relevant points of the displayed document.
Foxit Reader is considerate one of the main alternatives to the Adobe reader, also offering more fluidity when viewing documents (although, unlike Adobe Reader, it is not compatible with the PDX format).
This reader allows us to annotate (and draw) documents and underline text … and, like SumatraPDF, it offers editable bookmarks.
What’s more, includes a media player for the embedded audios and videos that we can find embedded in some PDFs and EPUBs; and its function Foxit Cloud offers us the option to save and share documents in the cloud.
Other differentiating functions of this software are viewing documents ‘in text mode’ (that is, stripping them of graphic elements) and the possibility of zooming in PDFs up to 6400%.
Slim PDF is one of the lightest PDF readers you can find: so much so that once installed it will only occupy 15 MB on your computer. Despite this, it does not only offer basic functionalities …
… but complements them with annotation and content extraction tools (text and images) and offers the option of filling in PDF forms or verifying if a digitally signed document has been modified.
STDU Viewer is other lightweight multi-format reader (it even displays TXT and image files), free for non-commercial use, which is presented as specially focused to work with technical documentation.
Editable bookmarks, export of pages in image format, are other of its available functions. Unlike other lightweight readers, once installed it offers thumbnail viewing in Windows Explorer.
The same developers of this tool They also offer other free tools related to PDFs, such as STDU Converter, STDU Explorer, and STDU Extractor.
MuPDF is a lightweight PDF editor (although it is also capable of viewing various formats of ebooks and digital comics) and is portable, as it does not require installation.
It is so light that, in fact, despite being a graphical application, it lacks any tool in its interface and most of the options (mostly related to document rendering) are only accessible running it from the command line.
It is a tool widely used in combination with scripts … or by users looking for a spartan interface so they can focus on what they are reading.
Bonus: Your web browser
However, if your goal is not to fill out forms, or create annotations, or convert documents to other formats, or back them up in the cloud, or use the command line, or … etc. If you only want to view PDFs, period, you should know that with total security you already have software on your PC capable of doing that: your web browser.
Because, yes, the main browsers, such as Edge, Chrome and Firefox (and the lesser known but based on them) already bring free PDF readers integrated, with basic tools to adjust the size of the text, rotate the document and print it.