The moment when you hear the word PDF, Adobe Reader is the first one to strike your mind since its being used by the vast majority of users around the globe. If you are one among those I think it’s time for you to take a look at these 4 Best alternative PDF readers for great reading experience. Some of these PDF readers are actually portable which leaves you the worry of uninstalling them if you dont like it, so lets go ahead and check them out.

1) SumatraPDF

Supported Operating System: Windows XP, Vista, 7 & 8

Installer Size: The portable version is 2.65 MB and Installer Size is 4 MB

You won’t see flash previews of this PDF software on the website where you are about to the download the software, but i can assure you that the reader will load your PDF pages in a flash. The light weight reader comes both in installable and portable variations. You could just carry the portable version in your USB wherever you go and use it. There are settings defined in the SumatraPDF-settings.txt which could be changed to suit your needs. You can open the file by clicking on Settings Menu -> Advanced Options. For example, the background color of the main window that is launched when you launch SumatraPDF is yellow which was not quite appealing to my eyes so just changed the below line in the settings file to reflect something better.

Changed MainWindowBackground = #80fff200 to MainWindowBackground = #80ffffff

Sumatra PDF Reader

SumatraPDF reader remembers the page that you read last and brings it up when you click on the PDF again from the frequently read section. A very basic PDF reader that can just help you to load and read PDF’s faster.

2) PDF-XChange Viewer

Supported Operating System: Windows XP and Later versions

Installer Size: The portable version is 8 MB and Installer Size is 16 MB

You get massive features fully loaded in PDF-XChange Viewer without a lag in speed. I quite liked the preview of selected file, that you get in the File Open window which is quite handy when you are trying to locate your PDF through a heap of files. Though document manipulation features like Insert, Extract, Delete, Crop, Rotate and some comment related features are just left for Pro version you can still use them in free version if you are not bothered about the Demo labels(refer below image) that are watermarked on your final document.

PDF XChange WaterMark

And yes don’t forget to check the Loupe Tool option under Zoom Tools in Tools Menu, a great addition which helps you to select and zoom specific area in your PDF and save it as a snapshot. Just like SumatraPDF this reader also remembers the last page that you read in the PDF file.

3) STDU Viewer

Supported Operating System: Windows

Installer Size: Installer and Portable, both are 3 MB

STDU Viewer

Yet another light weight portable PDF reader which could be used for reading wide range of file formats like TIFF, PDF, DjVu, XPS, JBIG2, WWF, FB2, TXT, Comic Book Archive (CBR or CBZ), TCR, PalmDoc(PDB), MOBI, AZW, EPub, DCX and image (BMP, PCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, WMF, EMF, PSD) files. You can adjust the brightness and contrast for a better reading experience through the Settings option available under View Menu.

 4) Foxit Reader

Supported Operating System: Windows XP and Later versions

Installer Size: Installer Size is 33 MB

Foxit Reader Toolbar Mode

The Foxit Reader’s default toolbar mode will remind you of Microsoft’s latest Ribbon UI. The resemblance just doesn’t stop there, you even have an option to connect to Microsoft SharePoint (A Collaboration and Content Management System) from Foxit reader. The Share Menu lets you share your PDF via Email, Evernote and Facebook from Foxit Reader itself.

It is advised to turn off other PDF plugins from your browsers before adding Foxit reader add-ons. Foxit Reader provides snapshot option to copy an area from your PDF and save it. Is this better than Loupe Tool that is available in PDF-XChange Viewer? I leave it to you, explore it.

Why these PDF Readers couldn’t make it?

I gave a shot on the below PDF Readers just like i did the above listed readers, but unfortunately these couldn’t make it to the list for the following reasons:

PDF Lite

  • The installer Suggested installing Qtrax, Smart PC Cleaner, Fast Search, Wajam, Muvic Toolbar softwares. Though you can hit decline and skip them, it could have been still avoided since all we need is a simple PDF reader.
  • Installation was pretty slow.

Nuance PDF Reader

  • You have to sign up with your email for getting the download link, which is fine.
  • When you download the Reader through the email link it subscribes you automatically to receive periodic follow up emails, which I wouldn’t prefer even when it still says that you can unsubscribe later, which is ok.
  • Installs a tool along with the PDF Reader called Software Manager to just check the updates and get messages, is it really needed?

Nitro PDF

  • It’s only available as a free trail for 14 days and you have to be connected to internet to get it installed.
  • Resembles more like Foxit Reader, which is already available for free.

What’s your favorite PDF Reader? Already using one of the above reader, how is it going?