The best free PDF reader allows you to read, edit or annotate PDF files and prevent security threats.
PDF documents are being used everywhere these days. This is because they can be opened on any opening system, are easy to attach to an email or website, and have the advantage of not being easily changed. And, so everyone uses them at work, at schools, and even for digital copies of manuals for your peripherals and equipment.
While it’s straightforward to open a read-only PDF—you can do it using your favorite web browser—one will need a dedicated PDF reader to edit, convert, or convert. Fortunately, the best free PDF readers are just as capable as their paid counterparts, and they won’t cost you a dime or force you to have a monthly subscription.
To help you find the best one for what you need, we’ve highlighted five of the best free PDF readers for Windows and Mac. These should see you through to advanced functions such as signing or editing documents, merging PDFs, or converting between document formats. For more flexibility, take a look at our guide to the best free PDF editors, which make editing a PDF as simple as tweaking a Word document.
Additionally, we have featured Best PDF to Powerpoint Converters,
The best PDF editor right now is: Adobe Acrobat Pro DC
Need to edit a PDF and not just view it? It’s not free, but for professional results, Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is the tool for you. It gives you complete freedom to create PDFs and edit existing documents without any hassle on desktop or mobile.
Adobe’s free PDF reader isn’t the lightest download possible, but this software does a lot of things well. If you already use other Adobe products, you can connect the Acrobat Reader DC to Adobe’s storage cloud. Alternatively, you can save or open PDFs in cloud services including Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive and Box.
What really sets this free PDF reader apart is that it is capable of opening multiple large files at once. This means that you can read and interpret rough documents in this program without worrying that it will crash on you. The layout organizes the individual documents into a tab view, so it feels a lot like what you’d see through PDFs in your web browser.
Acrobat Reader DC includes almost all the annotation tools you could want, making it the best free PDF reader. It allows you to highlight text, add comments, and fill out forms and sign. There’s also a text-to-speech mode that will read documents aloud for you.
Foxit PDF Reader is much more than just a free PDF reader – you can even create PDFs from scratch using this software. Integration with Microsoft Office lets you easily convert the documents you’re working on to PDF. Or, you can scan a document or image and convert it to PDF using Foxit Reader. The only thing the free version lacks is optical character recognition in scanned documents.
The software can be a little intimidating at first, but it is relatively simple to navigate. This is thanks to the fact that it uses the same ribbon-style menu as Microsoft Office. Easy to use tools for editing, signing, highlighting and commenting. You can also merge or split PDFs by downloading free add-ons for the software.
Note that with the latest updates to the software, Foxit has deprecated their PDF virtual printer driver, which means you can no longer use the software to create PDFs.
To learn more, read our full Foxit PDF Reader review.
Slim PDF is the best free PDF reader for you, if you are looking for something incredibly light weight. The software download is really small, so it’s the perfect choice if you’re limited by hard drive space. Plus, this means that it’s able to open and load your documents faster than most of its competitors.
The downside of this small size is that Slim PDF is pretty basic. You can search and rotate documents, but that’s about it. There are no tools for signing, filling in, annotating or highlighting, let alone several ways to read. While there is a menu option to convert PDF to Word document, doing so requires another software download.
As a result, Slim PDF is really just a PDF reader. It does a good job at this, however, except the toolbars can distract you from what you’re reading. If you need to print PDFs frequently, Slim PDF is one of the fastest and simplest options available.
For more information, read our full Slim PDF review.
Nitro Reader is another powerful free PDF reader in the vein of Foxit Reader and Adobe Acrobat DC. What makes this tool different is that it has a touchscreen mode which is perfect if you’re working on a tablet. Touchscreen mode is especially nice for reading e-books, as you can flick pages or click a button instead of scrolling.
While you can’t fill in and sign PDFs with Nitro Reader, the software does a good job of enabling collaboration. In addition to highlighting, you can annotate documents with underlining and strikethrough. Comments are also supported, and they appear like sticky notes that can be easily recognized when reading through a document. Helpfully, the software also allows you to convert between PDF and other document formats.
The software features a ribbon-style menu that will be familiar to Microsoft Office users. The menu is very easy to navigate as there are not so many options available in Nitro Reader.
If you want to know more, read our full Nitro Reader review.
Instead of being just a free PDF reader, PDF-Xchange Editor is also a free PDF editing program for Windows. The interface is a bit more complicated than some others but gives you easy access to a lot of useful features.
For most users, the main reason to use PDF-XChange Editor is the fact that it comes with inbuilt optical character recognition (OCR). This means that if your original PDF document is a photocopy, PDF-Xchange will still recognize the text and allow you to edit it. Plus, PDF-XChange Editor lets you reformat text, and even convert it to fonts that aren’t already loaded on your computer.
You can use this platform to merge or split individual PDF files. The only serious downside of this powerful editor is that, if you haven’t signed up for the Pro version, a small ‘PDF-Created with Exchange Editor’ watermark will be added at the bottom of any PDF file you export. .
For more information, read our full PDF-XChange Editor review.
Plus, learn how to convert pdf words from With our best free Adobe PDF to Microsoft Word converters.