How-To Geek

Ask the Readers: Which PDF Reader Do You Use? [Poll]

Note: This article is part of our archive and is likely out of date.
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The pdf format is an extremely popular way to store and share documents at home and work. This week we would like to know which pdf software you use.

PDF software can be found on nearly every computer that you encounter and the popularity of pdf documents make this a must-have software. You might use the default pdf software on a given computer (i.e. work) or perhaps you have a favorite that you always install wherever you use a computer.

With the recent security problems in some pdf software you may be looking for a different app to use on your system. Do you only need a simple pdf viewer or something with more functionality? It all depends on the number of pdf documents that you work with and what you need to do with them. The great news is that there are quite a few nice pdf apps available to choose from.

Which pdf software do you use or would recommend to a fellow reader? Let us know in the comments!

[polldaddy poll=”3452296″]

Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 07/14/10

Comments (68)

  1. Mohamed-Ikbel Boulabiar

    I am on Linux, I use Evince why it isn’t even mentioned ??

  2. JasonCook599

    I use Envice[1]. It is the default in Ubuntu and works well. The only caveat is the search function for long documents


  3. Mysticgeek


  4. Matthew

    I use Adobe Acrobat, but only for the form support. I find that when creating forms, it’s the best.

  5. Brian

    I use Nitro PDF Reader because of it’s great features (mainly using a virtual printer to convert files to PDF) and it’s top notch interface. And for whenever I run into a bug, like it’s issue rendering transparency, I have Adobe Reader as a fall-back.

  6. MrGroove

    Sumatra PDF

    It works. ;)

  7. akash

    PDF Converter Professional

  8. Tavil


    Best one ive used by far.

  9. Robert Sheinbrum

    Adobe cause I really dont use PDF’s that much

  10. Sue

    Adobe Acrobat. Was introduced to it when I worked in a law office and one of the courts “suggested” that we use Corel Wordperfect for our documents, and our filings had to be in pdf format, and Adobe was the one that was linked to Wordperfect. I didn’t realize there were so many other choices! You learn something new EVERY day!

  11. vistual

    also played around with foxit – and like it as well.

  12. eceplayground


  13. jjack

    foxit is really small program (9-10mb) comapred to adobe 9 which is about 150 mb

  14. Jon

    I just use Adobe Reader but I do not allow PDF documents to open within a browser.

  15. david

    sumatra, even though i haven’t used it in forever

  16. Fbdv

    I use foxit, Adobe reader is too big.. And I really don´t understad why…

  17. RichardGv

    I largely use zathura, a minimalist PDF viewer. I guess it’s Linux-only.

  18. David Levine

    Preview on Mac. Adobe on work laptop because I don’t have a choice.

  19. gyfffes

    Used to use Foxit on my Win machines but now it wants to install bloody toolbars. No thank you and no thank you to any product that tries pushing this crap onto me.

    Preview for Mac (though Skim is a close second) and Sumatra for Win. Evince is default in Ubu, yes? So I use that, too.

  20. luis

    Foxit Phantom it allows PDF creation as well which is a pretty great feature if I need to email notes to people from Word or onenote, also I can comment and edit “locked” pdfs simply too. Highlighter is my fave feature

  21. Ivan Kolevski

    I have used Nitro PDF reader Free for a while, used to use PDF X Change for a long time. Adobe Lite was my choice for number of years. Just yesterday I got free license for Nitro PDF Pro, installed it, used for about 2~3Hrs and went back to PDF X Change.

    In my opinion PDF X Change it works the best, displays PDF files correctly, it is fast, displays thumbnails in explorer, it has stamp feature, I can edit PDF files etc… One thing that I did not like about Nitro PDF Pro is that, even that the GUI is very nice, installs printer service in the background and is veeeeerrry slow.

    For my personal purpose I put my money on PDF X Change + Bullzip PDF printer combo. This works the best for me.

    Ivan K.
    GeekTech Solutions

  22. Rhonda Tipton

    Foxit FTW!

  23. SDreamer

    I use a combination of Adobe Reader and PDF X-Change. Reason is, some pdf files from the net display correctly in Adobe Reader, so I have that for default for my browser, and X-Change for everything else. It’s quick, has all the tools and then some. I tried out Nitro, was great, but it lacked a lot of other tools I liked from X-change. Foxit is nice, but if I were to lose the functionality of X-change I’ll just move to Nitro. Nitro and Foxit are very comparable, they both offer basic annotation tools.

  24. Paidhi

    I highly recommend Skim for the Mac.

  25. neko

    Adobe Reader, with JavaScript disabled and attachments denied.

  26. kyle

    PDF-XChange is amazing!

    so under-rated

  27. hutters

    gDoc Fusion from – it gives me quality viewing, pdf creation and easy drag and drop pdf editing in one neat tool :)

  28. vishal

    I use foxit reader because my need is mainly to read documents. I am searching any other software under 2 MB which just gives me readeing functionality.

  29. Steve

    Foxit! Although I do see the “marketeers” and “suits” at Foxit Corp. trying to imitate Adobe. And Foxit is starting to get a little bloated as a result. But for now, Foxit is NOTHING like Acrobat. So, for now I choose Foxit (on the Windows side anyway).

    Now, if only there were an alternative to Flash…

    (No. I’m NOT Steve Jobs.)

  30. grannyGrump

    PDF-Xchange, yes! Adopted it over 3 years ago when it was just a toddler, and forced myself to learn to use JauntePE so I could make it portable (not required anymore, they make a portable version now)
    I recommend this one to all my friends and to passing strangers too.

  31. Cal

    I use Foxit. Of course I also am a big fan of Firefox. ;)

  32. Bambang

    Foxit as PDF reader, free, portable, n light-weight.
    For annotation, PDF X-Change is the choice, also free, portable, n light-weight.

  33. Navjot

    I use Chrome!

  34. Lisa

    Foxit on Linux Mint 9. It just seems to render the text better than Evince and make things much more pleasurable to read. Oh, and its not Adobe.

  35. Oreb

    My ‘other’ isn’t really I guess. But I use Acrobat Pro 8 for reader as well as other PDF functions. Might check out some of these others to see what I’m missing.

  36. Jim

    I use Foxit but have a minor bug issue to mention. Every time I want to print something, I must switch it to print blank and white. It invariably defaults to color printing.

    Anyone else see this? Other than that, I love it. Fast, small, reliable…

  37. Aamir

    I use FOXIT reader on my win7 and ubuntu as my need is to read the pdf documents. It is better and fast as compared to adobe pdf reader. I highly recommend it.

  38. Doug Bays

    PDF Xchange is the most versatile I’ve found, though I was happy with Foxit till I found Xchange.
    Nice to be able to make basic edits and notations without having to purchase an editor for just occasional use. I use Cute PDF for writing.

  39. Guess

    I use Google Chrome to view PDF files. I have the dev version and it comes with a built in PDF viewer. Its much easier. I don’t need to install anything extra and its fast and has no extra features (I just need the basics , ie. viewig and printing.)

  40. Paul


  41. Earl Truss

    Foxit. You can install it without the obnoxious toolbar and stuff – you just need to uncheck that option. I just need a simple, fast-loading viewer that will display any PDF file, nothing fancy at all, and it just works. I don’t have Acrobat Reader installed any more on a couple of computers. Some web sites that show PDFs don’t work with Foxit but most do. ADP web site will not show paycheck stubs unless you have the real Acrobat Reader installed.

  42. rMatey180

    I’m using Ubuntu with Firefox, with the Add-On PDF Download. Works really great. When I used Windows, I was satisfied with Foxit.

  43. Xeogin

    Evince here, and I’m mostly a Windows guy. Second would be Nitro though, then Adobe, then Foxit, then Sumatra. I want something that’s basic and works. I also use the G-Docs plug-in in Firefox so I don’t have to deal with all the slow PDF plugins that are out there.

  44. Robert Benzing

    I find that all of these pdf converters, convert well. But when it comes to form filling. P.U.

  45. Andrew

    I am using the beta version of Nitro Reader. Adobe Reader is slow and always needs to be updated.

  46. Sam

    Foxit on Windows, though am trialing Nitro. Preview on the Mac suits me fine.

    The more I support Windows®, the more I love my Mac.

  47. IgorP

    Foxir Reader for years on Windows. Evince on Arch linux.


  48. van

    Foxit nice

  49. Trinae R.

    I like NitroPDF Reader. Not only is it fast, but it doubles as a virtual PDF printer, saving me the hassle of installing more software. Besides, the form fillin fuction is easy to use and it generates nice clean PDF files.

  50. Zain

    Foxit – The lightest and easiest of all. It doesn’t install those annoying startup files like adobe

  51. r00t

    Pdf XChange, the best ever. Ive tried foxit and sumatra, but they are no match for PDF Xchange viewer.

  52. rbouman

    PDF-Xchange has become my favorite; it’s fast and [personal use] you can edit your docs. well done PDF-Xchange!

  53. TS

    Sumatra and PDF-XChange. I wish we could vote for more than one, because for pure reading, Sumatra. But if there’s forms or actual work involved, then PDF-XChange.

  54. Abhishek

    Evince on my personal Ubuntu laptop, Adobe on my office XP laptop.

  55. SlovaN

    I must say, Adobe reader (9).
    All other programs have worse render quality than adobe.
    I read many whitepapers for my master degree work, and Adobe is only one, which doesn’t tiring my eyes, when it takes me an hour or more to read pdf.
    Foxit reader would be The best pdf viewer, it has nice, simple GUI, need low HW resources, have tabs, but that ghastly render quality!!

    (sorry for not so good english)

  56. anton

    PDF-XChange. Cause it enables thumpnails on 64 bit Windows.

  57. jayanta dey

    I think adobe reader is one of the best pdf reader. Its interface is very easy.

  58. Lady Fitzgerald

    I use Adobe Acrobat 9 Standard. I had to have it on my computer anyway for my scanner (the scanner even came with it). I have since learned to love Acrobat. I also have it installed on my little netbook.It has more features than Foxit without having to install the stupid Ask toolbar.

  59. freiform

    Mostly I use Foxit, especially on my netbook it renders noticeably faster than Sumatra. Sumatra has one major advantage, though: On the fly updating of the viewed PDF, which makes it a very nice previewing-tool when writing in latex, as it automatically refreshes to the newly created document. For Foxit I have to close the viewer manually or incorporate some 3rd party scripts to achieve the same.

  60. John

    PDF-XChange – the text is crisper, annotations/markups are freelly available without licensing – laod times and switching between pages are lightening fast and perhaps most important of all – there support is outstanding – even though its a free product !

  61. Valery

    I like PDF-XChange much more than Adobe and Foxit. Recently I used they but I found the better alternative. The free version here does a lot! PDF-XChange Viewer is FREE to use without any charges for 90% of the features – there are a few features that are reserved as advanced features and for which a license must be acquired for (e.g. adding/deleting pages, scanning etc) but all Markup features and annotations are free, export to Image files and much more are 100% free. Need a comprehensive, full-featured desktop PDF solution? Try PDF XChange Pro. It’s an excellent product, lightweight and with highly customizable menus from an excellent software company. I would wholeheartedly recommend anyone needing to work with PDF files takes a look at the free PDF-XChange Viewer from Tracker Software. It does numerous things that the FREE version of Foxit doesn’t. it also offers support for XFA PDF form files which neither Foxit nor Nitro does.

  62. Paul

    PDF-XChange by far the simplest, fastest and with great support.

    These guys actually listen to you!

  63. Mary

    I am satisfied with the programme. It’s useful for my rrsearch

  64. Artik

    PDF-XChange Viewer is excellent FREE software – has a lot of different features (each of these features you can try to use, even if it is PRO feature).
    It has a friendly interface and it’s easy to work with it.
    If I have some questions – I can easily ask them in Support forum and to my big surprise I always get answers (in 1-2 days).
    So, I can say they pay attention to end-user needs and it’s great!!!!

  65. Alexandre Helias

    I use Zathura for about one year, it’s minimal and benefits of an excellent rendering engine, with all the options you ever wanted under keyboard.

  66. mikey

    PDF-XChange by far, lots of features (free for most things) – an oustanding UI that is attractive and intuitive and the only one out of Foxit, Adobe and Nitro that bothered to answer my support request – and did so within 2 hours !!! Opens 99% of files I have tried and the 2 I had problems with – were fixed in a release 10 days after I reported the problem.

    First class product and service.

  67. Ernst

    Worked with Foxit for a while. After stumbling over PDF-XChange, I changed, and am very happy with it. After working with the free version, which allready let’s one do lots of things (even bookmarking), I changed to the PRO version – and regret, not having done sooner.
    One increadibly outstanding factor is the support by the forum(s). Always helpful and friendly, even if you ask a dumb question or one, you could have found by searching the forum or user guide.
    What’s even more impressive – they are increadibly fast in answering the questions.
    (I’m not paid for this; it’s just the way it is … :-) )

  68. apc

    Absolutely the most versatile viewer I have found. This is the first one in which I can really avoid cutting down trees (and keep my stuff organized) because all of my highlights, comments in the column, etc. are all there saved with the file. I have used it for over a year and found very little to quibble about.

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