Suggestions Wanted: PDF Reader software for Windows

A post on Download Squad, shared by Vlad (an old Jaiku contact), reminded me that I’ve been meaning to sort out a new alternative to the stupidly bloated Adobe Reader.

I’ve been a long time user of Foxit Reader, but over the last while this piece of software has increased in size, gotten much slower on load time, and worst of all, started to use dubious practices in tricking you to install crapware – the worst of all being as displayed in the screenshot below.

Foxit Crapware Trick (courtesy of Download Squad)

This nasty tactic makes you think you’re deselecting items you don’t want and then, if you aren’t paying attention, your default reaction is to click “I accept” assuming that you’re accepting the installation of Foxit Reader without the unwanted crapware. No no. This means you’re accepting the install of yet-another-useless-browser-toolbar but not using Ask as your homepage/default search.

This nearly caught me out, and I’m a seasoned computer user wary of such things.

As a result I will no longer be suggesting Foxit software as an alternative to Adobe.

Now I need recommendations on new alternatives. I’ve tried Sumatra, but it’s missing out on text selection. In fact, pretty much the only feature I need in a PDF reader is being able to read the document and text selection – I need no other features.

Anyone got a recommendation? If so I’d love to hear about it in the comments.


  • pob

    this is such a deadly program and i also would be interested in other recommendations.

    consider to obtain previous versions which were that bit less invasive and less rammed with junk.

  • Never thought about File Hippo's wonderful history feature – definitely an option but I'll keep you posted if I find something properly lightweight and of an open-sourcy flavour that would suit.

    Sumatra would be fine for me if it just did text selection. Although I should double check that as I think the last time I tested it was about 10 months ago.

  • Right, so far I've tested out:

    PDF Xchange Viewer


    Nitro Reader

    PDF Xchange does require unticking boxes to avoid ask crapware toolbars, but it's a straightforward untick, unlike Foxit's total deception. It also offers the choice of whether you want to make it default viewer for .pdf files. It's a 12Mb download

    Nitro Reader install is even more straightforward. No crapware for now, couple of clicks and your done. It auto associates as default PDF viewer. It's a 23Mb download.

    Both startup and load files faster than Foxit, and PDF Xchange feels a bit more complete on functionality. Nitro has the Office 2007 style ribbon which doesn't bother me but doesn't excite either.

    If it's down to these two, I'll probably use PDF Xchange myself, but suggest Nitro Reader to other users so as to avoid crapware installation. The amount of people's computers I see that have about 4 or 5 different browser toolbars is ridiculous.