How-To Geek

Integrate Nitro PDF Reader with Windows 7

Would you like a lightweight PDF reader that integrates nicely with Office and Windows 7?  Here we look at the new Nitro PDF Reader, a nice PDF viewer that also lets you create and markup PDF files.

Adobe Reader is the de-facto PDF viewer, but it only lets you view PDFs and not much else.  Additionally, it doesn’t fully integrate with 64-bit editions of Vista and Windows 7.  There are many alternate PDF readers, but Nitro PDF Reader is a new entry into this field that offers more features than most PDF readers. 

From the creators of the popular free PrimoPDF printer, the new Reader lets you create PDFs from a variety of file formats and markup existing PDFs with notes, highlights, stamps, and more in addition to viewing PDFs.  It also integrates great with Windows 7 using the Office 2010 ribbon interface.

Getting Started

Download the free Nitro PDF Reader (link below) and install as normal.  Nitro PDF Reader has separate versions for 32 & 64-bit editions of Windows, so download the correct one for your computer.

Note:  Nitro PDF Reader is still in Beta testing, so only install if you’re comfortable with using beta software.


On first run, Nitro PDF Reader will ask if you want to make it the default PDF viewer.  If you don’t want to, make sure to uncheck the box beside Always perform this check to keep it from opening this prompt every time you use it.


It will also open an introductory PDF the first time you run it so you can quickly get acquainted with its features.


Windows 7 Integration

One of the first things you’ll notice is that Nitro PDF Reader integrates great with Windows 7.  The ribbon interface fits right in with native applications such as WordPad and Paint, as well as Office 2010.


If you set Nitro PDF Reader as your default PDF viewer, you’ll see thumbnails of your PDFs in Windows Explorer.  Unfortunately, this only works in 32 bit editions of Windows; if you’re using a 64 bit version, you’ll only see the Nitro PDF logo on PDF files.  Hopefully this will be fixed before the final release.


If you turn on the Preview Pane, you can read full PDFs in Windows Explorer.  Adobe Reader lets you do this in 32 bit versions, but Nitro PDF works in 64 bit versions too.


The PDF preview even works in Outlook.  If you receive an email with a PDF attachment, you can select the PDF and view it directly in the Reading Pane.  Click the Preview file button, and you can uncheck the box at the bottom so PDFs will automatically open for preview if you want.


Now you can read your PDF attachments in Outlook without opening them separately.  This works in both Outlook 2007 and 2010.


Edit your PDFs

Adobe Reader only lets you view PDF files, and you can’t save data you enter in PDF forms.  Nitro PDF Reader, however, gives you several handy markup tools you can use to edit your PDFs.  When you’re done, you can save the final PDF, including information entered into forms.


With the ribbon interface, it’s easy to find the tools you want to edit your PDFs.


Here we’ve highlighted text in a PDF and added a note to it.  We can now save these changes, and they’ll look the same in any PDF reader, including Adobe Reader.


You can also enter new text in PDFs.  This will open a new tab in the ribbon, where you can select basic font settings.  Select the Click To Finish button in the ribbon when you’re finished editing text.


Or, if you want to use the text or pictures from a PDF in another application, you can choose to extract them directly in Nitro PDF Reader. 


Create PDFs

One of the best features of Nitro PDF Reader is the ability to create PDFs from almost any file.  Nitro adds a new virtual printer to your computer that creates PDF files from anything you can print.  Print your file as normal, but select the Nitro PDF Creator (Reader) printer.


Enter a name for your PDF, select if you want to edit the PDF properties, and click Create.


If you choose to edit the PDF properties, you can add your name and information to the file, select the initial view, encrypt it, and restrict permissions.


Alternately, you can create a PDF from almost any file by simply drag-and-dropping it into Nitro PDF Reader.  It will automatically convert the file to PDF and open it in a new tab in Nitro PDF.


Now from the File menu you can send the PDF as an email attachment so anyone can view it.


Make sure to save the PDF before closing Nitro, as it does not automatically save the PDF file.



Nitro PDF Reader is a nice alternative to Adobe Reader, and offers some features that are only available in the more expensive Adobe Acrobat.  With great Windows 7 integration, including full support for 64-bit editions, Nitro fits in with the Windows and Office experience very nicely.  If you have tried out Nitro PDF Reader leave a comment and let us know what you think.


Download Nitro PDF Reader

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 05/28/10

Comments (16)

  1. Robert

    I have set Nitro as default, but it doesn’t show thumbnails. What am I doing wrong? Win 7 Pro x64

  2. Bjørnar

    I would like to recommend Sumatra PDF if you want a really lightweight PDF reader. Not eye-candy or nice uninteresting features! :D

  3. Francisco

    Extrange thing… i downloaded the 64-bit version to use it with my Windows 7 Home Premium, but when I install it it wants to save it in Program Files (x86) and when Nitro PDF is installed and running I used Process Explorer (found it here) to check it and it says it’s 32-bit.

    Any idea on why this happened? :D

  4. Chappers

    Does this integrate well with Firefox? I remember having a lot of trouble with Foxit Reader well I tried installing that and it refused to open PDFs in FF properly.

  5. Matthew Guay

    @Robert – I’m sorry, I wrote the wrong thing above. It looks like the PDF thumbnails are still only on 32 bit versions of Windows, but the Preview Pane DOES work on both 32 bit and 64 bit versions. Sorry!

    @Francisco – I believe the 64 bit version just gives you a 64 bit printer driver so you can print files as PDF. The reader does appear to still be a 32 bit program as you found, so I assume the only difference is that it needed a 64 bit driver for the printer.

    @Chappers – As mentioned in the article, the one thing we missed was that Nitro Reader does not integrate with web browsers. So, if you already have Adobe Reader installed, PDFs will open in Firefox or other browsers in Adobe Reader still. But, if you save PDFs to your desktop, you can then open them with Nitro PDF Reader.

  6. Seth

    PDF X-Change Viewer is free and has integration with the 64-bit version of Windows Explorer (preview pane + thumbnails), Microsoft Office Outlook, and web browsers. Its UI isn’t as slick as Nitro, but it’s highly customizable. It does not include the ability to print pdf’s, but Bullzip is very good for that.

  7. Chris James

    After reading this website I uninstalled Adobe Reader, installed Nitro PDF. Nearly every time I opened a pdf file the program crashed. So bye bye Nitro PDF

  8. Mrk Zrr

    Nice find. Just what I was looking for.

  9. FiendAngel

    Foxit PDF Reader is also a good alternative

  10. Jim Reilly

    Crashed immediately on first run. Will try it again when it’s a bit more stable.

  11. Provy

    Thanks a million Seth. PDF X-Change Viewer is working flawlessly with Windows 7 64-bit. I can finally see the thumbnails.

  12. Edwaine

    can we just combine all the good stuffs on the above mentioned softwares? a perfect one.

  13. biesiad

    I used it for a while and encoutered problems with viewing (!) pdf. When I rolled through the pages, content was missing, or disappeared after a while.
    Thanks, but no thanks.

  14. indianacarnie

    no problems here. win7 x64 and everything works fine.

  15. Neal

    I do not see the Nitro PDF Print Driver any longer in my Printers. Have Windows 7 64 bit and Nitro PDF Pro 6.2. Cant find it anywhere in the setup etc. Can anyone help?

  16. ssc73

    I have been using Nitro for some time now. It’s the only free one I have found that actually let’s you edit what’s on the PDF without payin for conversion or converting period. I still have Sumatra as the default reader. But when I need to do acutal work and changes on it at work, Nitro all the way.

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