PDF Viewing Software

January 23, 2010

I don’t know about all of you, but I view numerous PDF files each and every day. First, let’s take a brief look at the PDF (Portable Document Format) file format. It was created by Adobe in 1993 and was released as an open standard on July 1, 2008. So while it was Adobe’s proprietary creation, it is now a format that can be created, modified and read by any software that follows the format standards.

As most of you are aware, CorelDRAW can create PDF files from your artwork and gives you great control over what is created. If you aren’t aware of all the settings, check out my CorelDRAW X4 Unleashed book. OK, enough of the mandatory book plugs. 🙂 Other popular software, like Microsoft Office 2007, can also create PDF files from within the software. The strange thing is that Microsoft made the Save as PDF feature an add-in you have to download rather than including it in the box.

There are other tools to create PDF files, including some free ones. I’ll save that list for another post. Since I’m already using the Adobe CS4 suite for other products, I use Adobe Acrobat Professional 9 to create and edit PDF files.

Back to the topic at hand and that is viewing PDF files. Adobe Reader is certainly one of the most used pieces of software for viewing PDF files. It is a 37.9 MB download and is free. While it works well, it can be slow due to bloat. It also frequently comes under attack if a security hole is found. I’ve been a big fan of FoxIt Reader for a few years now. It is also a free download that is only 5.1 MB in size. Is is perfect? No, there are a very small number of things that display incorrectly. But it is fast and the flaws will rarely affect most users. A loyal reader recently pointed me to PDF-XChange Viewer. Is is also free and the download is 19.6 MB. I’ve not yet hand time to do any comparisons about speed, though I find it to be very quick on the few files I tested. I also don’t know if there are any flaws in regards to displaying all files, but I found it worked as well if not better than FoxIt Reader on the files I tested. The most important thing to know is that there are good alternatives to Adobe Reader. As graphics professionals, it is good for us to have numerous readers with which to test our files and make sure they work correctly. We just don’t know what software will be used to view our files after they are created.

Give the various PDF readers a try and post a comment letting me know what you think of them.

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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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