The 7 Best PDF Readers for Windows In 2020

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Choosing the right PDF for Windows that suits all of your needs isn’t too difficult a task. There are many options to varying degrees of usefulness. As far as basic PDF reading requirements are concerned, today’s web browsers are often all that is needed. They already do what most free PDF readers can do. 

Still, for those looking for a PDF with advanced features that can perform certain tasks such as annotation, digital signature, form filling, etc., knowing what options are available can go a long way.

For Windows 10 in particular, a very popular operating system, there are quite a lot of PDF readers from which to choose. It’s because of this that we’ve decided to compile our personal list of which 7 Windows PDF readers are the best free pdf readers of 2019, heading into 2020.

The 7 Best PDF Readers For Windows

Depending on what your PDF needs are, this list could seem confusing by listing off options in a particular order. So, instead, we’ve decided to list the best overall free pdf readers where you can decide out of the 7 which one is best for you.

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

Possibly the most powerful program on this list would have to be Adobe Acrobat Reader. It’s also one of the most popular choices in PDF software for both basic and advanced feature needs. This particular program is recommended for all PDF tasks as it is not uncommon to come across a PDF file that demands an advanced PDF reader.

Adobe Acrobat Reader can seem like a bloated product, especially in comparison to the others on this list, but that is because it is the only one that has a solution for everything PDF related. It’s the most useful software on the list, finding solutions to your PDF needs where other PDFs might fail. 

There are different reading modes, text highlighting, the ability to add notes and handle filling forms, allows for digital signatures, stamps, and so much more. With multiple PDF files, Adobe supports a tabbed view, allowing you to open and read those PDF files simultaneously. The crazy part about it all is that the basic version of this product is completely free.

While using one of the other free PDF readers, you may notice that larger files may not process fully. Adobe Acrobat Reader doesn’t have this problem. No matter the size of the file, it will be easily compiled and processed, providing a readable PDF for your viewing every time.

PDF-XChange Editor

If you happen to be in the market for something more lite, PDF-XChange Lite is a free PDF reader alternative for Windows 10. The PDF-XChange brand has undergone a complete revamp and simplification, swapping out “Viewer” for “Editor” in the name, as the original didn’t offer basic editing functions for free. 

With the changes, it now provides an appropriately named lightweight experience and features for reading, printing, annotating, saving images and text, etc. all within a PDF file. This, on top of the developers’ claim that the free version will ship with more than 60% of what you’d get from the paid version, makes PDF-XChange Lite a great entry into the PDF Reader category.

SumatraPDF

Another entry on the lightweight front, SumatraPDF is an open-source PDF reader software available for Windows operating systems ranging from Windows 10 all the way back to XP. 

Naturally, anything labeled with open-source means a product that is free and open to the public while remaining customizable to boot. SumatraPDF is licensed under GPLv3 license, and not only supports the PDF format but also the EPUB, MOBI, FB2, CHM, XPS, and DjVu formats as well.

Of course, SumatraPDF, though it provides an excellent reading experience, does suffer from a lack of features. It is lite after all. It doesn’t come with annotations, document signing, and form-filling which some may consider a deal breaker. However, if light is what you’re after, SumatraPDF comes in a 64-bit installer that is no larger than 5MB in size.

Javelin PDF Reader

When looking for a software with all of the basic features and functionality one could want from a PDF reader, there is Javelin. At the very least, Javelin will allow you to complete all daily chores easily with its super clean interface and various screen-viewer functions such as full, side by side, continuous, and so on.

It’s a rather lightweight product at 2MB, especially when compared to the likes of Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. In addition to the basics, Javelin can help you view DRM-secured PDF files, which are files that require decryption keys to open.

Nitro Reader

Aside from Adobe, one of the more well-known names in the world of office productivity software is Nitro Reader. If you’re looking for a free PDF reader that attempts to strike a perfect balance between usability and offered feature, this is it.

You won’t find an overabundance of unnecessary features that you’re not likely to use. Instead, Nitro Reader provides more of a no-nonsense style of PDF reader with its slick interface mimicking the likes of an application straight out of the Microsoft Office suite.

Apart from the basics,Nitro Reader comes with its own digital signature feature, QuickSign, that makes digitally signing documents a breeze. It also allows for the security of individual documents, ensuring that only those who’ve received a digital certificate from you will be able to open the file.

Foxit Reader

Foxit Reader is both robust and free, creating a double-whammy of sought after potential for most individuals in the market for a PDF reader. Foxit, just like Adobe and Nitro, is a globally recognized name brand in the world of document reader software and is comparatively lighter than both.

The official website for Foxit is well-designed and easy to navigate, offering a solid download experience without the need to push additional bloatware as Adobe tends to do. They’ve also introduced an online ConnectedPDF Document Management System and it doesn’t try to ship some extra bloatware to your PC. 

However, it does try to install Foxit PhantomPDF editor’s 14-day trial during the installation process, so take a look at that.

With its 8.0 update, Foxit also introduced its new online ConnectedPDF Document Management System, supplying online security and confidentiality to your PDF documents. This comes in handy while collaborating online and helps to keep your documents organized. 

Foxit is an advanced, free PDF reader with all of the necessary features one could ask for. You can also rid yourself of all the frills and bloating that a standard PDF viewer provides by using Foxit’s Text Viewer mode. This will remove all of the complex formatting and allow you to view a document in a more plain Notepad-like display.

Expert PDF Reader

This entry onto the list of top PDF readers for 2019 and beyond brings with it a fresh new interface and all of the standard features. Expert PDF Reader is a free PDF reader for Windows that you can download and use to view PDF files.

A list of the features included is the ability to add notes, highlight the text, create a text box, and even creating and managing custom stamps. Unlike some but similar to others on this list, the free software comes with a signature feature included.

There is a premium version, Expert PDF Reader Professional, which had its latest release comes with new features to maintain and preserve PDF files over a lengthy period of time. 

On top of this, it features new optimization options when dealing with the size of a file and an OCR function (Optical Character Recognition) to allow easy scanning of images that would otherwise cause complications.

Slim PDF

Self-proclaimed as the “world’s smallest desktop PDF reader,” SlimPDF is yet another lightweight reader for the list. With a download size of only 1.43MB, it’s very hard to argue against that claim. This makes it perfect for anyone who has an older model of computer that may have issues running the more complex and heavy PDF readers. 

This particular software is one of the best free PDF readers you can use whether your running newer versions of Windows (10, 8.1, 7) or older (XP). Load times are quick and the process is smooth. It may not have the glitz and glam of something like Adobe Acrobat but does offer simplicity and focuses primarily on reading, viewing, and printing your PDF files.

This product doesn’t support many of the more popular keyboard shortcuts you might find in other readers. In order to maintain the self-given crown of being the lightest PDF reader, it had to make sacrifices and can be seen as rather bare-bones. Word by word text highlighting is one of the cut features you might expect as standard, but the reader itself is quite portable and in the end, it just works.