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Best Free PDF Reader

by James 28 November 2008 19 Comments

Welcome back to the Freeware Mission, the freeware only PC is not just a dream anymore! I’ve started this quest almost a month ago and until then I had only freeware programs installed in my PC, except Windows XP. And everything went great! Now about the PDF readers, Adobe Reader is free to use too, but I think it’s way too slow and greedy with system resources. I need a fast and light freeware PDF reader!


I have tested several so-called freeware PDF readers and too many of them had annoying limitations inviting you to buy a “pro” version. The best option I discovered is PDF-XChange Viewer, free but with enough options to make a very good program.


PDF-XChange Viewer is a lot faster than the Adobe Reader and has also some nice conversion features. You can convert your PDF files into various file formats including BMP, JPG, PNG and TIFF. You can also extract the text from a PDF file and integrate PDF-XChange Viewer with Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.

You can download PDF-XChange Viewer from here, it’s free!


My Evaluation
Operating System
Windows All
15.7 MB
Tracker Software
Version Tested

The Freeware Mission will continue! In the next episode I’ll pick the best free PDF writer, don’t miss it!

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If you have any trouble with this software just leave a comment, I’ll help you out!



  • Anonymous said:

    Never heard of Foxit Reader ??

  • Anonymous said:

    That seems inconsistent with your argument against Adobe Reader’s heavy weight. Foxit is a lot lighter than PDF X-Change.

  • Johnny Karp said:

    I’m not sure about that, PDF X-Change loaded a lot faster, opened the documents a lot faster…

  • maximillian_x said:

    What anonymous meant is Foxit has a 15Mb memory footprint while PDFXchange has a 25Mb footprint while viewing the same file (for example).

    Also, I noticed the install was quite a bit larger than Foxit.

    When looking at PDF-Xchange, I noticed a bunch of annotation and drawing tools that are included, which would explain the larger size. I’m wondering if the viewer software is the same as the editor (once the eval is over, it switches to only viewer)?

  • Johnny Karp said:

    I don’t think there is an evaluation period. I’ve been using it for about two months and all the options are still there.

  • Jonno said:

    I was wondering about Foxit. I deeeeeefinitely don’t ever use Adobe, and I switched to Foxit. But I have to say, Foxit is not near as light as I thought it would be.

    But you seriously recommend this…. PDF X-Change over Foxit, and Sumatra? Maybe I’ll have to give it a try.

  • Koch1882 said:

    And, as of December 2008, the new Foxit 3.0 now comes with adware that must be installed – a toolbar and an eBay icon. Foxit 3.0 is in effect no longer free and no different than Adobe bloatware. I just switched to PDF X-Change and love it. a 25mb vs. 15mb memory footprint is trivial, and yes it loads faster than Foxit.

  • Johnny Karp said:

    That’s sad news about Foxit. I liked PDF X-change better anyway 😛

  • krisvek said:

    That is also incorrect news about Foxit. The toolbar, etc., are in no way required. Just like many other free programs, you simply have to opt out of those ‘features’ during the installation. You DO pay attention to the installation routine, don’t you, Koch1882? 😛

    I hadn’t heard of PDF X-change, so I’ll definitely give it a shot. How does Sumatra stack up?

  • Johnny Karp said:

    Please come back and tell us how it went with PDF X-change. I’m satisfied with it so far.

  • Evan said:

    How about Foxit Reader? You might give a try =)

  • Rachel said:

    I used Foxit for a while and I thought it was great. Then I had to print a PDF out. What a nightmare. I waited for 20 minutes and nothing printed. Other users had the same problem. Some users reported they had to wait hours for a file to spool. 10-20 minutes seemed to be the norm. Yikes. I was not going to wait that long. I had the latest version so I tried uninstalling and using some older versions and that didn’t work.

    I finally switched to PDF-XChange and I love it. My PDFs print out instantly and it’s a great program overall. I’m not sure if Foxit has fixed this problem, but I feel no need to go back and find out.

  • Johnny Karp said:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • MortalHuman said:

    Hey Johnny, great post there with the list of apps, I snagged Digsby and will install it later along with a few more goodies here.

    Have you heard of Sumatra PDF Reader? That thing is like 250kb and renders fast, is free, and does not require an install.

    After switching to 64 bit XP (which I enjoy a lot, by the way), I’m left needing to install my apps again, and I’m looking for alternatives. I’m not sure if I’ll get Foxit or go back to Sumatra for my PDF needs, though. Actually, odds are I’ll just use the Open Office PDF import plugin and just read in office 😛

    Of course, I don’t get auto opening of PDF files from browsers that way, so I might pick one of the two stand alones in my comment.

    Nice blog, will read some more!

  • Dion said:

    I just wanted to thank you for putting me onto PDF-Xchange. It is so much lighter than adobe and does everything I need.

  • Tech Guru said:

    Here is free PDF tool which I would like to share that is Free PDF cube.

    This tool is much faster, better and has lot of functions. Also this free for life

    You can try the same from pdfcube.com

    The Direct Download link for FREE PDF is


    It is 100% FREE PDF Converter and works as a virtual printer. you can convert more than 300 + formats so now you can convert all your Word, Excel, Powerpoint to PDF Free.

  • Andre Sid said:

    I would strongly recommend anyone needing to work with PDF files takes a look at the free PDF-XChange Viewer from Tracker Software – which does numerous things that the FREE version of Foxit wont – it also offers support for XFA PDF form files (as used by many Gov’t depts etc) – which neither Foxit nor Nitro do. The support is also excellent and free!

  • OliKidl said:

    +1 vote for PDF-XChange. It is the most versatile pdf-viewer/reader. Smooth Scrolling, nice customizable user interface.

  • AlanAlan said:

    PDF-XChange Viewer gets my vote, excellent balance between size and features – probably the best free reader available and with an excellent tabbed interface. But ost important of all – real support people answer your questions even if you only have the free version. 1st class company and products.

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