Windows PDF Viewer Alternative

Mac OS X comes with an inbuilt, basic, no-nonsense PDF viewer that, well, just does the job. So, why not Windows? Heck, it comes with inbuilt Zipping functionality nowadays.

As the proud owner of a brand spanking new laptop with a fresh Windows install atop a self-formatted hard drive I'm reluctant to install any program I don't truly need that it isn't lightweight and hassle free.

After less than a day with the new PC I'm already finding I really need a PDF viewer. It's at this point I normally just install Adobe Reader. Well not this time. I've had it with Adobe's bloated software and it's annoying upgrade prompts. So much so that my old PC got downgraded from Adobe Reader 26 (or whatever version it's on now -- how can they warrant so many new versions!?) back to version 6. And even that prompted me all the time to upgrade.

No. This time I've opted for an alternative. After some digging around I went for Sumatra PDF, which is small, fast and does everything I want it to -- view, print, search etc.


  1. Please blog your experience. Will be interesting to see what happens with the PDF integration in the browser -- does Sumatra do that, do you still need Adobe plugins, or does it just treat a pdf page as a file?

    • avatar
    • Dietmar
    • Wed 23 Sep 2009 03:47 PM

    I have good experience with Foxit Reader. Also integrates in IE and FF.

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Wed 23 Sep 2009 03:54 PM

    Funny you should ask that David as I just popped back to record here that one drawback of a non-Acrobat approach is that it doesn't open in the browser. Well, it opens, just not in the browser - you get the normal open/save dialog. Which, thinking about it, isn't such a bad thing. Sometimes when it did open in the browser all I did was find the save icon to save it and then press back. Having the option is probably better.

    If you can't live without it maybe Dietmar's suggestion is worth a look?

  2. Bloatware, yes. If you find you must use it, it is possible to turn off the update notifications via a preference (or disable this and more updater .exes entirely via the most excellent "Startup Control Panel" -- http://www.mlin.net/StartupCPL.shtml).

    • avatar
    • Palmi
    • Wed 23 Sep 2009 06:55 PM

    Jake, I know you just got your laptop - I recommend going for Windows 7 - With 8.5.1 BETA and W7 * its FAST.

  3. I'll second Foxit. Works dandy, and properly, in IE, Firefox, and Chrome.

    Even has the nice white 'Mickey' hand....

  4. I am also usig Foxit since ages. But I am not totally happy with it. Sometimes there are some minor bugs or problems with it. But still way better than the usual bloated Reader.

    I would recommend to dual-boot your laptop. I am also using Vista / Ubuntu at home and I am very happy with it.

    Some more nice tools you might find useful: JkDefrag, JDiskReport, Hardcopy.

    (You blogged about these must-have utilities some time ago, maybe you should update the list now :-)

  5. I've also dumped the bloated Adobe Reader in favor of Foxit Reader, and I'm very satisfied with that.

    I don't want pdf files to open in the browser, so I always disable that. Why would you want a pdf file to open in the browser in any case? It already has it's own software to display the file, I want to remain on the web page I had open when I clicked the pdf link.

  6. Foxit Reader is my choice. I used Sumatra earlier, but it has not all the basic stuff I need.

  7. I third, or fourth (whatever it is by this point), Foxit. Used it for years, and it works on everything.

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Written by Jake Howlett on Wed 23 Sep 2009

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