So, the question is, do you need Adobe Reader installed? Or, are there better Adobe Reader alternatives for reading PDFs?
What Is Adobe Reader?
Adobe Acrobat Reader is one of the most popular PDF readers. It comes in two main flavors: Free and Premium. The free version allows you to view, print, and annotate PDF files, while the premium version includes tools for editing, scanning, digital signing, and file conversion, among other options.
For most people, the advanced options available in Adobe Acrobat Pro (the premium version) are overkill. If you’re just reading the occasional PDF or printing a document or form, your regular web browser can take care of business.
Is Adobe Acrobat Reader Safe?
So, is Adobe Reader safe? If you keep Adobe Reader updated, then you should remain safe. Adobe pushes updates for its apps on the first Tuesday of every month (as part of Patch Tuesday, which many tech companies observe). Reading through the patch notes reveals that it isn’t just Adobe Reader receiving critical updates; all Adobe products require a significant patch from time-to-time.
- Head to Edit > Preferences.
How to Open PDFs in Your Browser
Adobe Acrobat Reader allows you to view and print PDFs. But your browser can do exactly the same without you having to download and install an extra program.
Google Chrome has an integrated PDF viewer. It has been bundled with Google Chrome since 2010. It makes opening online PDFs extremely quick, loading directly in your browser. Unfortunately, Chrome’s PDF viewer doesn’t have many features. Or rather, it has basically none, unless rotating your PDFs is an absolute necessity.
10 Powerful Chrome Tools for All Your PDF Needs
If you are a Chrome user, there are several extensions and apps that are quite useful. From viewing and editing, to merging and splitting, there is a PDF tool here for almost anything you need.
However, it is fast. Additionally, Google Chrome is now the most popular browser worldwide, so there is a good chance you already have it installed.
Google Chrome can function as your default local PDF viewer, too. Right-click your PDF, and select Properties. Select Change, followed by Google Chrome. Then select Apply.
Please note that this process is the same for Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or any other PDF viewer you’d like to use as default.
Enable the New Google PDF Reader
As luck would have it, as I was updating this article, Google snuck out an update to the Chrome PDF viewer. You can enable the Chrome PDF reader update through the Chrome Flags page, a list of experimental browser features. Some of these features are in active development, while other options come and go.
Input chrome://flags in your Chrome address bar, search for #pdf-viewer-update, and switch to Enabled. You’ll have to relaunch your browser before the new PDF reader loads.
So, what’s new? The PDF reader update aims to bring Chrome’s PDF reader up to the same standard as Mozilla Firefox’s, adding support for document outlines and new view controls.
Like Google Chrome, Firefox has an integrated PDF viewer. In fact, Mozilla has bundled a PDF viewer since Firefox 19—we’re now using Firefox 83. Who said Mozilla isn’t innovative?! Firefox’s PDF viewer comes with some handy features, too. For example, if you have a PDF with interactive fields, such as on a form, you can use the built-in PDF viewer to fill them in.
Firefox’s PDF.js browser viewer is one of the best options around.
Windows 10’s native browser, Microsoft Edge, also includes an inbuilt PDF reader.
What Happened to Microsoft Reader?
Microsoft Reader is no longer maintained and, as such, is not included in your Windows 10 installation. You can still download and use Reader via the Microsoft Store.
macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android
Other operating systems don’t require Adobe Acrobat Reader, either. macOS users have Preview, while Linux distributions come bundled with Okular or Evince, depending on the environment. Android has a built-in PDF viewer, as does iOS.
While Adobe Reader is available to all of these operating systems, there isn’t really a reason to use it. Not least because there are better free PDF options available for each OS.
The Best Adobe Reader Alternatives
If you’re read enough and want to try a new PDF reader, check out the best PDF and eBook readers for Windows. The options on that list represent some of the best Adobe Reader alternatives available, with many options including similar functionality to Adobe Acrobat Pro.
Or, if you prefer something more lightweight, consider these very light alternatives to Adobe Reader. They deliver PDF functionality in a smaller package, taking up fewer system resources than the mainstream alternative.
What’s Your Favorite PDF Viewer?
You’ve read why you don’t really need Adobe Reader anymore. Between the internet browsers with inbuilt PDF viewers and the free PDF reader alternatives, you’re well covered. As most PDFs are just documents meant for viewing in a specific format—that’s what PDFs do, after all—most of the alternative PDF viewers on this list will deliver the same if not better experience.
Want to resume reading where you left off in PDF files? We show you how to enable this feature in various PDF readers.
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