12 Best Free PDF Readers In 2024

Top 12 Best Free PDF Readers

A PDF reader is a software that can open PDF files which is, perhaps, the most popular format of documents. Despite the fact that PDF files have existed for more than 25 years now, it’s still the main format of documents on the Internet. However, to open such documents, you will have to download a designated PDF reader on your computer. In this article, I will tell you about 12 best PDF readers for Windows and Mac.

1. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

For advanced users
  • The possibility to create digital signatures
  • Easily opens large PDF files
  • Universal annotation tools
  • The possibility to reorganize pages
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Verdict: If you want a robust free PDF software and you are interested in advanced functions, Adobe Acrobat Reader DC will be a perfect choice for you. It can open many large PDF files simultaneously and has almost all the annotation tools typical for a PDF viewer.

There you can highlight texts, add comments, fill and sign forms. In addition, it has a text-to-speech mode that can read your documents aloud for you.

adobe acrobat reader dc interface

2. Foxit Reader

For PDF safety
  • Very lightweight
  • Has security functions
  • The possibility to create a digital signature
  • Offers annotation tools
  • Lack of OCR in a free version

Verdict: Foxit Reader is the best free PDF reader as it enables you to create, share and secure your PDF files on the cloud. If you want to cooperate with someone on this file, you can both give and revoke access to it, track who uses this file and what exactly they do in it.

Also, you can edit, comment and notify readers about updates coming to your PDF file. In addition, this viewer has a lot of security functions, such as passwords, digital signatures and encryption that will help you preserve the safety and privacy of your PDF document.

foxit reader interface

3. Javelin PDF Reader

For all operating systems
  • Enhanced encryption features
  • Can be used on mobile phones
  • Offers markup and annotation tools
  • Fast display, zooming and text searching
  • Lack of conversion or editing features

Verdict: Javelin PDf Reader, created by Drumlin Security, is meant for reading PDF files. It allows you to launch and print standard and encrypted PDF documents, annotate and bookmark them. It’s lightweight (only 2MB) and doesn’t have extra functions, which makes its interface convenient and easy-to-use.

A huge advantage of this viewer is that you can use it on different operating systems and devices, such as Android, iOS, Windows and Mac OS.

javelin pdf reader interface

4. Google Drive

No download
  • Converts files into PDF
  • Easy-to-use
  • Lets you store data
  • Lack of editing or annotation tools

Verdict: Google Drive is an accessible PDF converter, storage system, and an actual free PDF editor. If you don’t have much memory on your device, Google Drive will be the best free PDF reader for you as it works online and doesn’t have to be downloaded.

There, you can convert your documents, presentations and pages to PDF files and upload PDFs to view them later. If you need PDF only for viewing and converting documents into them, then it will be a perfect option for you.

google drive pdf program interface

5. MuPDF

  • You can use it offline
  • Digital signature tool
  • Very fast
  • Annotation feature
  • Absence of OCR
  • Lack of shortcut key support

Verdict: MuPDF is a very fast, lightweight and qualitative free PDF reader. It’s universal and customizable. You can use this reader for many different operations as a PDF renderer, viewer or toolkit with a large number of great functions, such as annotations, form-filling and digital signatures.

If you are looking for a small PDF program for editing and viewing documents, this will be a perfect option for you.

mupdf best free pdf reader logo

6. Sumatra PDF

With keyboard shortcuts
  • Offers advanced functions
  • Supports different file formats
  • Simple to use GUI
  • Quick loading
  • Absence of print preview
  • Lack of some functions

Verdict: Sumatra PDF is the best PDF reader for Windows as it’s lightweight and supports different keyboard shortcuts. They can help you navigate faster and make your reading experience more pleasant. Besides, this viewer offers an intuitive and quick reading since it has many viewing modes, such as single page, book and presentation.

In addition, Sumatra PDF provides advanced functions, like custom profiles, watermarking and merging. However, it doesn’t have such functions as annotations, document signing and form-filling.

Sumatra pdf program interface

7. Slim PDF

  • Very fast loading
  • Converts files
  • Straightforward navigation
  • Offers only basic functions

Verdict: Verdict: Slim PDF is extremely lightweight and weighs only 1.43 MB and. That’s why it loads files very fast. However, since the viewer doesn’t take up much memory, it has quite basic features. Its most professional functions are search, print and rotate. If you need only to view PDF documents, this program will be a good choice for you.

slim pdf program interface

8. Nitro PDF Reader

For Windows
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Integrates with a large number of eSigning tools
  • Great annotation and editing tools
  • Lack of a document signing tool

Verdict: Nitro Reader is another great free PDF software. It provides a nice balance between usability and professional functions. This viewer has a user-friendly interface and offers you a lot of tools for creating, reviewing, securing and sharing your PDF documents.

With its preview pane, you can edit, comment and address feedback. In addition to standard features, Nitro Reader also provides QuickSign – a signature tool that helps you sign your documents digitally.

nitro pdf reader interface

9. PDF-XChange Editor

  • Works fast and without lagging
  • The possibility to edit text
  • Converts documents
  • You can add comments and annotations
  • Some professional functions are paid

Verdict: PDF-XChange Editor is the best free PDF reader as it’s very powerful. There, you can create, view, add notes and signatures, record and attach audios and files, highlight text and line through words.

Possessing the features of the best OCR software, the program allows you to scan printed documents and convert the text to a digital document. The only disadvantage of this program is a lot of paid professional functions. If you use these functions in a free version, you will have watermarks on your PDF documents.

pdf-exchange editor pdf program interface

10. STDU Viewer

For navigating multiple documents
  • Image editing functions
  • Simple Utility
  • Export and conversion tools
  • Shows bookmarks and contents
  • Dull UI

Verdict: STDU Viewer is the best free PDF reader as it can work with multiple files at the same time. There, you can navigate and create bookmarks and highlights, view thumbnails of the files that are open and make split windows to check different pages of the same file.

In addition, this viewer allows you to invert colors, for example, from black to white and vice versa. In this way, you will be able to minimize eye-strain. If you want something simpler, you can perform Adobe Reader XI free download from official resources.

stdu viewer pdf program interface

11. Expert PDF Reader

The fastest PDF program
  • Ready-made annotations
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • You can attach additional documents
  • Lack of a file conversion tool
  • Doesn’t offer a lot of functions

Verdict: Even though Expert PDF Reader doesn’t take up much space, it boasts many different tools. There, you can fill and sign documents, use ready-made annotation markups like an “approved” stamp.

In addition, you can add sticky note-style comments and attach additional documents to your PDF file. Its interface is similar to Microsoft Word, which will be convenient for a lot of users.

Some versions of the software may offer a tabbed interface, allowing users to open multiple PDF documents in separate tabs within the same window.

expert pdf reader logo interface

12. PDF Reader Premium

For Apple devices
  • Quick and qualitative PDF conversion
  • Constantly updated and enhanced
  • The possibility to export PDF files to different formats
  • You can view many tabs at the same time
  • Can make your computer slow

Verdict: PDF Reader Premium is one of the most famous PDF readers for Apple. It’s very robust and allows you to view your document in many tabs, annotate it with images and sticky notes, organize PDF files with tags, sign signatures, fill out forms on the document, store and transfer PDF files via a number of cloud services. This is the best PDF viewer for those who often work with PDF documents.

pdf premium reader pdf program interface


  • • Are free PDF readers as good as paid ones?

Yes, many free PDF readers offer robust features and functionalities comparable to paid alternatives. They're excellent for everyday use and typically fulfill the needs of most users.

  • • What unique features can I find in free PDF readers?

Some free PDF readers offer unique features such as annotation tools, form-filling, and cloud integration. They can also be lightweight and fast, making them convenient for quick document access.

  • • Are free PDF readers safe to use?

Generally, reputable free PDF readers are safe to use. However, always download PDF reader software from official sources or trusted app stores to avoid potential security risks.

  • • Can I use a free PDF reader on mobile devices?

Yes, many free PDF readers have mobile versions for smartphones and tablets, making it easy to access and read PDFs on the go.

Ann Young

Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a professional blogger, read more