A PDF Reader That's Portable And 20 Times Smaller Than Adobe's


If you use a PC you almost certainly need to be able to read PDF files sometimes. Maybe you download a book or a technical manual. Or perhaps you received an electronic statement, receipt or invoice from your bank or another company.

Although Adobe's reader is the official way of reading PDF files, it's also a huge application that takes a while to load and uses up large amounts of system resources. It's also a huge 78 MB download, which is a lot of software to install and keep up to date in order to fulfill what is really a relatively simple function.

A couple of years ago I brought you news of an alternative PDF reader for Windows called Sumatra. Since then, the program has undergone a series of updates but is still just a 3 MB download. And if you choose the portable version, it all unzips to a single 6 MB file which is all you need. There's nothing to install, and it makes no changes to your system registry. So if you don't like Sumatra, removing it completely from your PC involves nothing more than deleting a single file from your desktop.

You'll find the download of Sumatra at http://www.sumatrapdfreader.org/download-free-pdf-viewer.html and it supports all recent versions of Windows (including 10, though the web site doesn't yet say so). The program is malware-free according to VirusTotal and Web of Trust. And while it may not have the glamour of the Adobe version, its tiny size and fast speed may more than make up for its other shortcomings. Especially as it'll happily run from a USB pen drive if you're working on someone else's PC.

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Sumatra 3.1 has been released (2015.10.24).


* 64-bit builds.

* All documents are restored at startup if a window with multiple tabs is closed (or if closing happened through File -> Exit); this can be disabled through the RestoreSession advanced setting.

* Printing happens (again) always as image which leads to more reliable results at the cost of requiring more printer memory; the "Print as Image" advanced printing option has been removed.

* Scrolling with touchpad (e.g. on Surface Pro) now works.

* Many crash and other bug fixes.

As a mostly Ubuntu user, when i do use Windows i just use the Gnome Evince document viewer there as well.

Does this application also serve as a virtual printer for files, converting them to pdf in process?

There is, unfortunately, one trivial feature of Adobe Reader that doesn't seem to have been duplicated elsewhere yet: When you view the entire page, the scroll button will scroll one page at a time. For some baffling reason Sumatra and PDF X-Change both insist on smoothly scrolling, as if you'd ever want to have a giant page break smack dab in the middle of the screen.

(Foxit Reader is hardly worth mentioning anymore. It's getting just as bloated and obnoxious as Adobe.)

You can go into View and unclick Show Pages Continuously. Then it will scroll page by page.

One thing I've always liked about Sumatra is that it lets you rename and delete pdfs while they are open. This does wonders for one's workflow when working with a large number of files.

Also as previously mentioned, it makes a decent ebook reader too.

one more big plus: Sumatra can read djvu, xps, epub, chm, mobi....

Sumatra is also (helpfully) not subject to the sort of exploits that have occasionally plagued Acrobat users. And I can confirm that it runs perfectly on every version of Windows I've tried it on -- XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10. It hasn't changed in a year, which might be a small cause for concern, but it remains an excellent product and one I cheerfully use and recommend.

Removing the PDF browser plugin and instead using Open with... for PDF documents works for me too :)

I've been using the adobe more because of the cloud, it lets me read books on my cell, If anyone knows of a another cloud PDF service let me know.


Back in October 2013 over 150 million Adobe accounts were breached and their reputation has never really recovered from that. Add the problems they have had with their flash player and you can see why just about any other alternative to Adobe is probably a better choice. I've been using the PDF Xchange editor for the past couple of years with no complaints.

With browsers supporting PDF's, and a similarly simple PDF viewer built-in on Windows 8+, I don't really see the need to even look for an alternative of Adobe Reader anymore.

I don't use built-in pdf reader in the browsers. In fact, I turn it off from about: config in Firefox. I like it better to download the pdf file, and then read it on my computer. I use PdfXchange Editor.

Different people have different choices.

Excuse me J_L but the reason is simple: most of Windows users are still running Windows 7 (as me), for well known reasons.
And I have been using Sumatra for years.