Best Free PDF Readers for Windows

PDF (Portable Document Format) is a widely used file format for documents that need to be viewed and shared across different platforms while maintaining their formatting. While there are many PDF readers available, not all of them offer the same level of features and usability. In this review, we will explore the best free PDF readers for Windows, examining their key features, user interface, and overall performance.

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is one of the most well-known and widely used PDF readers. It is the official PDF reader from Adobe, the creator of the PDF format. While it offers a range of features, its primary strength lies in its reliability and compatibility with various PDF documents. It supports essential functionalities such as viewing, printing, and annotating PDFs.


  • Reliability: Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is known for its stability and reliability. It can handle large PDF files and complex documents without slowing down.
  • Cross-platform: It is available for multiple platforms, ensuring a consistent experience across devices.
  • Security features: Adobe Acrobat Reader DC provides security features, including the ability to sign and encrypt PDFs.


  • Resource-intensive: The software can be resource-intensive, especially on older computers, leading to slower performance.

Foxit Reader

Foxit Reader is a feature-rich PDF reader that has gained popularity for its speed and versatility. It comes with a user-friendly interface and a wide range of annotation tools, making it suitable for both casual users and professionals.


  • Fast performance: Foxit Reader is known for its speed in opening and rendering PDF files, making it a great choice for users who prioritize efficiency.
  • Annotation tools: It offers a variety of annotation tools, including highlighting, commenting, and drawing, enhancing the collaboration and review process.
  • ConnectedPDF: Foxit Reader supports ConnectedPDF, a feature that enables users to track and manage their PDF documents.


  • Promotional features: Some users may find the inclusion of promotional features and ads in the free version distracting.


SumatraPDF is a lightweight and minimalist PDF reader that focuses on simplicity and speed. Despite its small size, it offers essential features for viewing and navigating PDF documents.


  • Lightweight: SumatraPDF is a lightweight application, making it quick to load and suitable for older computers with limited resources.
  • Open-source: It is an open-source software, which means that it is continuously improved by a community of developers, and users can customize it according to their needs.
  • Fast startup: The application has a fast startup time, allowing users to open PDF files quickly.


  • Limited advanced features: SumatraPDF may lack some of the advanced features found in other PDF readers, making it less suitable for users with specific requirements.

Nitro PDF Reader

Nitro PDF Reader is a feature-rich PDF reader that goes beyond basic viewing capabilities. It offers tools for creating PDF files, collaborating on documents, and adding annotations.


  • Create and edit PDFs: Nitro PDF Reader allows users to create and edit PDF files, providing a more comprehensive solution for those who need to work with PDF documents regularly.
  • Collaboration features: It includes collaboration features such as commenting and markup tools, enhancing the ability to work on documents with others.
  • Tabbed interface: Nitro PDF Reader uses a tabbed interface, making it easy to switch between multiple open PDFs.


  • Installation options: During installation, users need to be cautious to avoid unwanted additional software that may be bundled with Nitro PDF Reader.

PDF-XChange Editor

PDF-XChange Editor is a powerful PDF reader and editor that offers a wide range of features for both viewing and manipulating PDF documents. It is known for its robust editing capabilities.


  • Advanced editing: PDF-XChange Editor provides advanced editing features, allowing users to edit text, add images, and manipulate the content of PDF files.
  • OCR support: It includes OCR (Optical Character Recognition) support, enabling users to convert scanned documents into editable and searchable PDFs.
  • Extensive annotation tools: The application offers a comprehensive set of annotation tools for collaborative work.


  • Learning curve: The extensive features may result in a steeper learning curve for users who are new to PDF editing.

Choosing the best free PDF reader for Windows depends on individual preferences and requirements. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is a reliable and widely used option, while Foxit Reader stands out for its speed and annotation tools. SumatraPDF is a lightweight choice for users who prioritize simplicity, and Nitro PDF Reader and PDF-XChange Editor are suitable for those who need advanced editing capabilities.

Ultimately, the best PDF reader is the one that aligns with your specific needs, whether it be speed, editing features, or simplicity. Each of the reviewed PDF readers has its strengths, and users should consider their own priorities when making a choice.