Best Free Non-Adobe PDF Reader



This category includes desktop programs that can be used for reading and annotating PDF documents, other than the slow and bloated Adobe Reader. While I will admit that the Adobe product has improved in both speed and features in recent years, it still lags behind some of the products reviewed here.

My personal criteria for rating the PDF reader include the following factors:

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Rated Products

PDF-XChange Editor  

It serves as a PDF viewer plus basic editing requirements

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Limited features)
Loads reasonably fast; can print PDFs; extensive annotation; allows filling and saving of Adobe PDF forms; can extract text and images, magnify text, manage document properties and security; Can OCR image based PDF documents.
Some advanced features are included but not free. When such features are used, resulting PDFs will be watermarked.
Read full review...

Foxit Reader  

A worthy contender to open and accurately render pdf files

Our Rating: 
License: Free
Fast, modern user interface, can fill and save both forms and form data, provides extensive annotation and review features. Social media interface. Can insert and validate electronic signatures.
No OCR capability. Users need to take great care during the install process to avoid a variety of unwanted components and system changes, the make-up of which is changed regularly. User manual must be downloaded separately.
Read full review...

Sumatra PDF  

A simple and light pdf reader

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Open source)
Small, fast, source code available.
Few features - it's basically just a viewer, image quality is not the best.
Read full review...

More PDF Readers

Check out more PDF readers reviewed and rated with Software Finder at our site.


Related Products and Links

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This software review is copy-edited by Jojo Yee. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here.

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Average: 4.4 (301 votes)


The Foxit Cloud thing can be uninstalled separately, it has its own uninstaller that you can run from, for example, Programs and Features in W7.

Sumatra is my favourite for pretty much any document that it supports. Yes it's a little unattractive but you can edit settings.txt to change some of the colours and for speed of loading it's unbeatable in my experience. It's also very handy for looking at ebooks without needing to import them first into some ebook reader's library which is how most of them (Calibre for instance) work.

Foxit installer now runs the OpenCandy executable "OCSetupHlp.dll"

Thanks for pointing out that file.
I was curious to see if it was on my hard drive, and I discovered that there are four copies of a different file with a similar name.
"ocsetup.exe" plus two copise of "ocsetup.exe.mui".

Apparently they are from Microsoft, with the file description
"Windows Optional Component Setup".

Yes, they are valid Windows files. The Open Candy one runs from temp during the install process and then gets deleted.

I've gone round the houses several times on this and having tried the top three here and several others I reverted to Adobe. Why?
- Foxit is also getting big and bloated these days and Adobe seems at least as fast.
- PDF X-Change, I just found the interface not to my liking. I know this is a personal view, but it's my choice ;)
- Sumatra also has an irritating interface, at least its splash screen is enough to induce migraine. Configuration via a text file is also a little bit too 70s. But the biggest problem I had with it was the sheer size of printouts. One file I wanted to print, of around 100 pages, took around twenty minutes per page on my HP Laserjet, and when I looked at the size of the spool file I could understand why, it was several HUNDRED MB. Adobe, on the other hand, printed as fast as the printer could feed the paper, and the spool file was a similar size to the source doc at a few MB.

Be warned Foxit will install a cloud connection

I just installed Foxit Reader 611 and got a free cloud connection. It was installed without questions or options. Then I could find no way of removing it or turning it off.

Thank you mr6n8, your suggestion works. I have used Foxit reader for many years for its quick loading and snappy performance.

Actually I didn't have a uninstall entry for it in my control panel but installing Foxit a second time created one so I could do as you link suggests.

Strange the entry was not there until a 2d install, but I am glad to hear it works. Thanks for getting back as this will help others wanting to disable the Cloud.


Did Nitro PDF Free failed in your test or you didn't test it yet?

Nitro was carefully evaluated in preparation for the writing of the full PDF reader review above and, as a result of your post and the recent interest in it, I gave it a second look. While it does provide the standard functionality for a PDF viewer, it just doesn't measure up to either PDF-XChange Viewer or Foxit. The installation annoyance started at the official download site for the free version of the reader, which required a name and email address before permitting download of the installer. This seemed a bit intrusive given that it is available without giving up identification data elsewhere. This was compounded by the fact that the installer masked the choices to opt out of setting Nitro as the system default and browser PDF reader behind an optional "configuration" button. When opening Nitro, the first thing that struck me was that half of the wide toolbar was useless whitespace. While the toolbar can be collapsed, the wasted space when visible limits the real estate available for the real work of displaying the PDF. For testing all of the reader candidates for inclusion in the review, I've assembled a group of 10 diverse PDF files of varying size, contents and complexity. The rendering of these files convinced me that the conclusion not to recommend Nitro was correct. My impression was that Nitro was generally slower in opening most, if not all of the test files than either PDF-Change or Foxit. Nitro also failed to render files with large graphics with the same clarity and quality as the other readers. In filling out a form containing a variety of different field types, Nitro was the worst performer in properly recognizing and supplying data to the field. With regard to features, ability to configure, appearance and performance, PDF-XChange and Foxit remain the choices for full featured PDF readers. Sumatra, which is only a simple viewer is clearly smaller and faster and stands as a recommendation for those reasons only.

I have been using Nitro for about a year. The key selling point for me was its ability to paste my signature into forms. Once I setup my signature (including a password), I have the ability to paste it opaquely with resize into a PDF file anywhere I want. You must provide the password associated before you can paste a signature and once you paste it the document is locked, so make sure all is correct first.

This feature has been a real time saver for completing and submitting forms. Before, I had to print the signature page, then sign it, then reassemble and send.

I also did not like the "ribbon" tool bar, but its easy to collapse and restore, and you can configure the remaining top bar to include any elements you use regularly. I include open, save as, zoom, rotate, sign, find and a few others.

I do not like the Nitro browser plugs, so at install I opt out of them.

Nitro also includes a PDF print capability that works like the Bullzip printer.

Also, you can download it from

If you click the big "download free" button, you will be asked for your email and the downloader will determine if your system is 32 or 64bit then start the appropriate download.

However, lower on the page are links to manually download either the free 32bit version or the free 64 bit version. Those will start the download immediately without asking for an eMail.

Thanxx for the info.

Please be patient. Our editors will reply to comments as soon as they are able to. Software evaluation takes time as I'm sure you can appreciate. MC - Site Manager.
I briefly took a look at the newly released PDF-XChange Editor Free version. In my cursory view, it seems to add little in the way of free features that are not currently found in the PDF-XChange Viewer. There is one major difference between the two products that I found a bit annoying. In the free version of the viewer, menu choices that are fully functional only in the Pro version are clearly labeled as such on the drop down menu. On the free version of the editor there is no warning label. As a result, when using the free editor, the user can go through a number of steps in a complex process (such as combining two files) before receiving a warning that the finished product will contain a "Demo" label unless the user purchases the full version. If I discover additional differences that are an improvement over the free viewer, I will include it in these comments.

And neither manual nor autoupdate is there in PDFXchange Editor.

According to their forum, a new build is to be released soon. Dont know what fixes/new wil be there.

Well, according to my reading some of the responses here, I still support Foxit as NUMBER 1.
Very easy. I also use its PDF Printer (creates PDFs) and it is the only viewer/creator combo that DOES NOT PUT WATERMARKS on the PDF I create.
That 1 trait is why I DO NOT support the "free" version of PDF-Xchange at all.
Foxit give a well rounded product for my needs, and like I stated above, it does so without TAMPERING with the PDF output. Yes, I consider adding a watermark tampering. Unless I am the one adding a watermark.

Does Foxit free allows to convert pdf to word or excel?

Foxit does not provide that conversion capability. Gizmo's recommendation for Best Free PDF Tools ( suggests the free online conversion tools offered by Nitro for Word ( and Excel (

I think Nitro PDF Free also has create/edit without watermarks, m I right?

Foxit free doesn't have password protection, right?

PDFXchange Editor Free Final version is going to be released today i.e Oct 21, 2013. Lets see what changes/new features it brings. This Free Editor/Viewer combo is going to replace Free Viewer i.e no further fixes/updates to Viewer.

Just went to Nitro's site. The product no longer appears to be free. They have Nitro PDF Pro, and when you get that, you get a 14 day trial.
So, as far as I was able to see, since it isn't free, it doesn't rate.

Apparently Nitro has a separate website address for the free reader - I have no idea if it does what CyberWolf64 is looking for:

Which free PDF readers has create/edit functions without any probs i.e no demo labels or some kind of marks or unwanted trial software watermarks on the PDF?

I use PDFs extensively for personal study, so I like to mark up the documents I'm reading. I currently use xxxxx on my Android tablet, and it is very good. I am soon going to buy a Windows 8 tablet and what I would like to know is which PDF reader for Windows responds best to a touch interface.

I was user of foxit reader until it failed at "restore last view setting". it happened before 1+ year ago.

lol, foxit reader still has same bug in 08-XX-2013:

Well Gizmo's decision to announce his avoidance to Foxit Reader due to the "ask" toolbar and added software being unavoidable must have worked. I just downloaded it (Foxit) and there was NO software added. I think Foxit got the message Gizmo. Ya dun gud.

Thanks for the heads up! I just downloaded and installed the latest version and no "Ask" toolbar. I'll be revising the review as soon as I have the opportunity to investigate any other recent changes.
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