Digital documents replaced the handwritten ones a long time ago, but we are still looking for new ways to improve our ways to create, share, and edit documents in the online world. Here are some of the reasons more and more professionals today prefer PDF documents, apart from its obvious professional appeal.
PDF documents are easily shared with others because no matter how big the file is, you can reduce its size and still have the same quality. They are universally visible on any device, being compatible with mobile phones, PCs, Macs, everything.
PDF documents support text, images, vectors, hyperlinks, graphics, even music. PDF documents are the only ones that you can trust in the sense of legal matters. That’s because you can’t make a change in a PDF document if you’re not registered. PDF documents are easy to create, and you can convert anything to a PDF document in just a few clicks.
If you’re looking to find the best free PDF software suitable for your needs, read on to learn more about our suggestions!
This reader promises you will be able to do more with documents. What does that mean? Foxit has more interesting features than a regular PDF viewer. It connects you to your colleagues and the rest of the world, allowing you to leave comments for the authors, to receive notifications when new versions are available, or to engage in discussions held in a document.
Foxit allows you to grant other users access to the document and to recall it if necessary, and you can also check who opened the document and what changes they have made.
Don’t worry about a file format not being compatible with Foxit –this great software can read them all.
- User-friendly interface
- Doesn’t take up too much space
- You can work online in the document
There’s no OCR support in the free version
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Adobe is one of the most popular PDF readers worldwide. This reader uses its connection to different storage systems like the Adobe Document Cloud, Dropbox, and others to allow you to open PDF documents, share them, and leave comments. It’s user-friendly, and it’s compatible with all kinds of devices.
While you’ll have to pay for Acrobat Pro DC after your free trial is over, the Acrobat Reader DC version is completely free to download and use.
Not all PDF readers can read all the documents, but you are safe with Adobe Reader. But when we say that the Adobe reader can read your document, we mean literally read. There’s the option of listening to a document, in situations when you’re not able to read, like when you’re driving.
- Compatible with all PDF documents
- Can display multiple documents in tabs
- Can read your text out loud
Takes up a lot of space
This PDF viewer allows you to create new documents, edit them, leave comments, and digitally sign them. PDF-XChange also has some cool features that many other editors don’t offer, and it is also fast, small in size, and easy to use. It was updated recently, so now you can access all the basic functions in the free version.
This editor also supports OCR, so it’s easy to convert hard copies of documents into scanned, digital ones. Apart from this, you can listen to or add audio comments, search scanned PDFs as if they were text-based, export a document to an image, and much more.
The page load speed has also been improved, so the PDF-XChange editor is almost perfect.
- Available on Windows XP and all later versions
- Simple to use
- Lightweight download
The free version lacks advanced features
Sumatra is small and fast, but very powerful, as they claim on the official webpage. The site also contains a useful guide and links to the previous versions if you’re interested in downloading them.
SumatraPDF has a really simple interface and is compatible with PDFs, eBooks, XPS files, and more. Also, you can run the program from a USB stick, for example – you don’t need to install it directly to your computer. It’s available on Windows XP, 7,8, and 10, as well as Vista.
Sumatra features some great keyboard shortcuts that make it even easier and faster to use, providing a fantastic reading experience. However, if you need some more advanced options such as leaving comments, digitally signing a document, Sumatra may not be the best choice for you.
- Lightweight download
- Keyboard shortcuts
- Supports different formats
No advanced features
You can download this great editor for free, without having to introduce a credit card number or anything apart from your name and email address.
Nitro supports more than 300 file formats and allows you to create new PDF documents from any Windows app by dragging and dropping content – it’s really simple as that. Once you create a PDF, you can adjust the color, fonts, orientation, paper size, etc.
Among other features, Nitro allows you to leave comments, respond to feedback, strikeout, highlight, underline – as if you were reviewing a hardcopy of a document. To keep your documents protected, you can set up a password or digitally sign them.
Creating a QuickSign profile will also allow you to share and exchange these documents with your colleagues in no time.
- Two-week free trial of Nitro Pro
- Easy and detailed reviewing
- Creates PDFs from any Microsoft app
Some useful features not available in the free version
AbleWord is compatible with many document formats, such as doc, docx, HTML, txt, pdf, and so on. Although its name might lead you to believe it can only work with Word documents, it’s a good choice for editing and converting PDF documents.
This editor allows you to format images, set headers and footers, preview the printing version, and you can also turn on the spell check feature to make your text error-free. It’s available on Win XP and all later versions of the Windows operating system.
The interface is similar to Microsoft Word, so you probably won’t have any trouble finding your way around. You can download this editor even if you need it for commercial use.
- Compatible with a large number of formats
- Simple to use
- Free for commercial use
Limited features related to PDF editing
Not only can you view, edit, and comment on PDF documents, but you can also use Google Drive as a storage place for your PDFs. When you create an account, you get 15GB of storage for free.
It’s easily accessible, and it allows you to convert any document, presentation, or sheet into a PDF. If you’re not interested in downloading additional programs to edit and share your PDF documents, Google Drive is a suitable option for you. You can also open PDFs uploaded to Drive from your computer via Google Docs and edit them right there.
It’s easy to upload, convert, and share your text with others, and you can do it in a few minutes. No need to download anything – all you have to do is be online, and you can edit away.
- No external apps or programs needed
- Easy to upload and edit documents
- 15GB of free storage for your PDF files
- You can’t use it while offline
- No advanced features
If you’re into minimalism and user-friendly interfaces, you’re going to love this PDF reader. There’s no clutter and no complicated steps to perform simple tasks. This reader makes it fast and easy to convert all your PDFs.
You can also open them when you need to go through a text very quickly. Slim PDF is very convenient for those who are always in a hurry, commuting, or on tight deadlines – the page load speed is great.
The whole software “weighs” only 1.43 MB, so your computer won’t even notice it’s there. It’s tailored for those who need an easy way to read and create PDF documents; it’s distraction-free, and there are no unnecessary toolbars and tabs.
There are also keyboard shortcuts to help you navigate through the document, rotate the page, or find a specific word. Slim PDF is available for PCs only and is only compatible with Windows operating systems.
- Minimalist and simple interface
- Lightweight app
- Great page load speed
You can’t edit documents or leave comments
Javelin PDF Reader
Javelin is very close to being the best free PDF software available. It allows you to complete many tasks, and get your PDFs ready for reading or printing.
You can print both regular and encrypted PDFs straight from Javelin, as well as leave comments and save the files in your bookmarks. It’s a small program that only takes up 2MB of space and has a user-friendly interface.
If you don’t need to edit PDF documents, but only to read them and leave occasional comments or review someone else’s texts, Javelin PDF reader might be a great option.
This reader is available on Windows 7, Android, and some iOS devices, meaning you can use it on the go as well.
- Simple to use
- Supported by Android and iOS devices
You can’t edit PDF documents
As we’ve mostly talked about the best free PDF software for your PC – or other Windows devices – it’s time we mentioned a few that are suitable for Android and iPhone users.
PDF Pro is an online program you can easily access from your smartphone. It’s enough to tap the appropriate button to upload the desired PDF and start editing. Your other options are to convert the file, print it, email it, or download a newly created document.
If you don’t do anything after the upload, your file is deleted after a day. To store your files, you’d need to try the premium version, which you need to buy.
Editing options include merging several files, removing pages, locking or unlocking the document, rotating the pages, adding a watermark, optimizing, or reordering the document.
- Numerous editing options
- Easy to use
- No need to download a program
Lower quality after conversion
This editor is available to iOS users, and the free version offers many useful tools for creating, reading, and editing PDF documents. If you don’t use PDF software for work or need exceptional features daily, you might find this reader satisfying.
PDF Max lets you edit the document, leave comments, and sign when necessary. It also has a feature that helps you personalize the document by choosing different colors for your notes, highlight parts of the text, insert stamps, and much more. The only downside is the fact that you can use only four tools at once.
If you want to upgrade your experience and use more than four features at the same time, you will need to buy the pro version of the app.
- You can edit, annotate, and sign the documents
- It’s extremely easy to use
You can’t use more than four tools at a time
The Best Free PDF Software for Your Needs
If you are just an occasional PDF user or you only need this type of software to read the documents, you will do just fine with the simple solutions that don’t take up too much space and aren’t packed with too many features. Sumatra PDF or Slim PDF will work for you with no issues.
However, if your work requires operating with PDF documents every day, you may want to try out some more advanced versions of PDF editors. The best free PDF software of our choice in this category is Adobe Acrobat Reader DC because it’s the most comprehensive option of them all.
It allows you to use all the important features in the free version. Also, it offers something that no other software does: the ability to listen to your PDF documents, which is extremely helpful if you have to drive to work or have to spend quite a while commuting. It’s a great way to catch up with work and use your time wisely.