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The Best PDF Viewer/Editor for Windows

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The PDF viewer you choose is really dependent on what you need to do with the PDFs you download, but when it comes to viewing and editing PDFs, PDF-XChange Viewer is the best program around.


PDF-XChange Viewer is not only very, very fast, but has a lot of annotation and editing features in its free version. Its big strength over other viewers is that it doesn’t add watermarks to your edited files; instead, it just limits what you can edit. If you need to heavily edit a lot of PDFs, you may have to pay for the pro version, but for the occasional annotation or markup, PDF-XChange gets the job done better than anyone else.

Foxit Reader is PDF-XChange’s biggest competition. It’s a bit faster and more feature-filled, but any annotations you make will add a watermark to the file in the free version, which is very annoying for some. If you can deal with a watermark, though, it has more editing features than the free version of PDF-XChange. It also comes with some bloatware in the installer, but it’s hard to knock this when PDF-XChange is even worse, cluttering up its own toolbar when it doesn’t even give you the option to turn it down.

If you never need to edit PDFs, Sumatra PDF is the reader for you. Unlike the other two, it’s extremely minimalist, providing just a simple, super-fast window from which you can read PDFs. No more, no less.

Lastly, we have to mention Adobe Reader. While it isn’t the fastest or most pleasurable to use, it is still the standard reader and editor in the PDF world, meaning that sometimes, when your PDF just won’t open correctly in other programs, Acrobat will have the best compatibility. It isn’t something we’d recommend installing now, but if you ever have PDF troubles, keep Adobe in mind, as it might be the solution.

There are tons of different PDF solutions out there, but these are the best ones around, in our opinion. If you’ve got a favorite we didn’t mention, let us know what it is and why you love it in the comments.

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