On second thoughts, the last sentence would be misplaced. Taking CNET’s download figures for document management software, I see that it’s behind Foxit and Adobe Reader. But the download numbers are really noteworthy.
So why do a review of the PDF-XChange Viewer so late in the day? In response, I say”¦why not? The fact that a number of our readers have put in their nod for this free PDF reader is reason enough to take a second, more prying look.
We have featured it before, albeit briefly, in a post on 4 Really Light Alternatives to Adobe Reader and in 6 Ways To Convert A PDF To A JPG Image. But it’s time to give PDF-XChange Viewer some limelight of all its own.
The free version of PDF-XChange Viewer, which we are interested in, is a slim 18MB download. That makes it heavier than Foxit but lighter than Adobe Reader. You can get it in various installation packages including a portable version.
The first thing you will notice with the first run is that the free PDF reader loads very fast. So let me load one of our own MakeUseOf eBooks and play around with the features that are there.
The first pleasing thing is it has a slick tabbed interface, letting me view more than one PDF file within one instance of the program. While choosing the components during the installation process, you will notice that PDF-XChange Viewer’s Help file has a requirement of nearly 6MB. This translates into a comprehensive and detailed Help file for the guy who likes to know his software in and out.
The toolbar seems to be a bit cluttered. But that’s because, by default, the software loads all the toolbars. You can set it up to your liking with a right click on the toolbar area and choosing Customize. A glance at the toolbar buttons gives you an idea of the features to expect. Features that are part of the paid Pro version are marked as such.
The Key Features That Make Up PDF-XChange Viewer
PDF-XChange Viewer makes navigation smooth with its Pan and Loupe tools located in the Zoom Toolbar. Zooming in and out with the slider is one way. Both the Loupe tool and the Pan and Zoom tool open up navigation windows and help to focus on specific areas of a PDF document.
PDF-XChange Viewer not only has a document search box but also a web search toolbar that’s set first on Ask.com (more engines can be added from Preferences). Click the dropdown to choose from the other search providers. For searching within the document, you can also comb through added comments and bookmarks.
PDF-XChange Viewer can be used as a “˜limited’ document converter. PDF pages can be exported to a variety of image formats. The Export to Image dialog box is also rich in features as in the screenshot.
You can easily email a PDF document from within the reader itself. The title of the document is entered in the Subject line of the email.
PDF-XChange Viewer shows the capability to handle interactive forms (AcroForms). The Form Data menu choice allows you to enter and retrieve data from Adobe Acrobat Forms. PDF-XChange Viewer has a few View options, for instance, View – Other Panes – Fields opens up a side pane with all the form fields. Along with form field highlighting, it makes the fields more obvious.
Commenting & Markup Tools
Every PDF reader has its uniqueness. With PDF-XChange Viewer it could be its rich subset of commenting and markup tools. Here’s a snapshot of the sub-menu accessed from Tools – Comment and Markup.
PDF-XChange Viewer gives you all the aids for elaborate markups with a variety of shape and line tools. And if you want to bump up the detail, there’s the free form Pencil tool for some freehand rough sketches.
You can add comments and annotations to any PDF file. The Sticky Note tool adds a Sticky Note wherever you need one for commenting. Others can also add replies below the main text by clicking on Add Reply. The appearance of the text and the container box can be changed anytime.
The Callout Tool allows you to add a text box with an arrow pointing to a selected location on the page.
For some straight-cut text annotations, you can use the Typewriter or the Textbox Tool.
The Stamps sub-menu is for marking documents with your choice of stamps. You can add your own stamps, for instance, your scanned signature via the Stamps Palette.
For more of navigation between internal and external locations, the Link Tools are just two steps down. You can link to any internal point in the PDF document or to an external website.
More Below The Surface
The above lines highlight the more conspicuous features of PDF-XChange Viewer. Scratch the surface and there’s more. Check out the Preferences and for customization options. For the paranoid, there’s 40/128 bit RC4 and 128/256 bit AES Encryption and Password security support.
Go into the Preferences and you can set a few memory usage and performance tuning options.
Along with the extremely detailed Help file, you get an informative product page on their website with screenshots and how-to videos to guide you through the product.
Downsides? Not many. Perhaps, the ability to add your own bookmarks in the free version would have helped. Hey, you can’t win every round with a product that’s absolutely free. PDF-XChange Viewer does win most of them.
Take it around for a few rounds and compare it with your experience in either Foxit or the Adobe Reader.
PDF-XChange Viewer (ver.2.0) is supported on Windows 2000 and all later versions.