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Most people don’t stop to think about the PDF reader they install – they just install Adobe Reader. Adobe’s PDF Reader isn’t the only option, though – there are quite a few high-quality, free PDF viewers available for Windows.

The alternative PDF readers run the gamut from minimal, lightweight applications built for nothing more than viewing PDFs to more full-featured applications that include annotations 2 Ways To Annotate Your PDF Files Online 2 Ways To Annotate Your PDF Files Online Read More and highlighting. Some applications even include features you won’t find in Adobe Reader, such as easy creation of PDF documents 4 Methods To Create & Edit PDF Files For Free 4 Methods To Create & Edit PDF Files For Free Out of all the common file types found in our computing world, PDF is probably one of the most restrictive ones, while at the same time being available for everyone to use (primarily to read).... Read More  and basic PDF-editing tools.

Built-In PDF Readers

If you’re using Google Chrome, you already have a PDF reader. It’s not feature-packed, but it’s a quick, minimal way to read PDF documents in your browser without installing and launching a separate application. It makes PDFs look like any other web page, aside from a toolbar that appears when you hover your cursor over the document.

Mozilla is working on integrating a built-in PDF reader, known as PDF.js, into Firefox 14, the next version of Firefox that will be released. Firefox should have a built-in PDF reader by Firefox 14 – or, hopefully, Firefox 15 at the latest. Windows 8 Windows 8 Release Preview Now Available For Download [Updates] Windows 8 Release Preview Now Available For Download [Updates] Windows 8 is now almost all grown up and ready for its official retail release. The new Microsoft operating system, which is scheduled to hit store shelves later this year, is now available for download... Read More also comes with its own PDF reader – PDF readers are becoming more integrated into the browsers and operating systems we use every day, gradually eliminating the need for dedicated PDF readers.

pdf readers

Foxit Reader

Foxit may be one of the first names that comes to mind when people think about alternative PDF readers, as it was one of the first alternative PDF readers to gain steam – and it’s still a great option today. Unfortunately, it does try to install a toolbar Begin The Fight Back Against Toolbar Installer Bloatware! [Opinion] Begin The Fight Back Against Toolbar Installer Bloatware! [Opinion] Recently I had cause to install some free video conversion software and was amazed to find so many attempts to fool me into installing additional software, not to mention attempts to upsell at the end... Read More and change your web browser’s home page during installation. Unlike some of the more lightweight option, Foxit has built-in support for annotations, highlights and other PDF-editing features – it’s a more full-featured alternative to Adobe Reader.

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Sumatra PDF

Sumatra PDF stands out as the most lightweight PDF reader available. It’s very lightweight, has a simple interface, and is also available as a portable app that you can take with you anywhere. It doesn’t have any editing options or other advanced features – it’s just a window that loads extremely quickly and displays PDFs. It’s also packed with keyboard shortcuts, making it even more ideal for quickly reading PDFs. Sumatra also supports other types of files, including eBooks The Top 4 Websites To Find Free iPad Books The Top 4 Websites To Find Free iPad Books While not being as fun as paper books or as easy on the eyes as other dedicated eReaders, the iPad provides a good way to read thousands of eBooks without buying another specialized device. Below... Read More in ePub and Mobi format and comic books in CBZ and CBR formats.

free pdf readers

Nitro PDF Reader

Nitro stands out among free PDF readers with some unique features, as well as a slick interface – although people that dislike Microsoft’s ribbon Customize The MS Word 2010 Ribbon By Adding Your Own Tab With Commands You Use Most Often Customize The MS Word 2010 Ribbon By Adding Your Own Tab With Commands You Use Most Often We have seen quite a few ways to tweak MS Office 2010 for our own productive ends. Granted, the whole MS Office suite is a productivity tool to begin with, but there’s still some spanner... Read More interface may prefer another application’s interface. It’s got some features you won’t find elsewhere – for example, its QuickSign feature allows you to capture a digital image of your signature and apply it to PDF documents. Nitro PDF can also convert files The 3 Best Free OCR Tools to Convert Your Files Back Into Editable Documents The 3 Best Free OCR Tools to Convert Your Files Back Into Editable Documents Believe it or not, some people still print documents to physical pieces of paper. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software takes those printed documents and converts them right back into machine-readable text. We've found some of... Read More from Microsoft Word and other formats to PDF, convert PDF files to text, and extract images from PDF files. For a more in-depth look at Nitro PDF Reader, check out our full review A Sneak Peek Into the New Nitro PDF Reader 2 A Sneak Peek Into the New Nitro PDF Reader 2 PDFs are great, there's no argument there. But reading and editing PDFs can get quite cumbersome, especially when the main contender out there is Adobe Acrobat, which you might need to sell your house in... Read More .

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PDF-XChange Viewer

PDF-XChange Viewer is a fast application, although it isn’t as lightweight as some of the other available PDF readers. It’s got good support for editing and annotations, although more complex edits will require a more full-featured, paid application like Adobe Acrobat. For more information about PDF-XChange Viewer, check out our full review PDF-XChange Viewer - Give This Free PDF Reader A Second Look PDF-XChange Viewer - Give This Free PDF Reader A Second Look Read More .

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Adobe Reader

Adobe Reader is still the standard PDF reader, although it’s definitely not the fastest. While most PDF documents work perfectly fine in other PDF readers, every now and then a document will only work in Adobe Reader. If you prefer another PDF reader, don’t be surprised if you have to occasionally fire up Adobe Reader to view a more complex PDF that just isn’t working properly in other PDF readers. There’s a reason Chrome’s in-browser PDF reader prompts users to open (or download) Adobe Reader in some cases.

pdf readers

For more great Windows software, check out our list of the 168 best free Windows applications.

How do you read PDFs on Windows? Leave a comment and tell us which PDF reader you prefer.

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