Speedy PDFs with eXpert PDF Reader

View and annotate PDFs with this fast freeware.

We're fans of lightweight PDF readers, which tend to load much faster than the big-name tools, even the free ones. We looked at eXpert PDF Reader, which displays PDF files and even offers some editing features. It's free and can serve as your default PDF software.

With a ribbon-style toolbar and contrasting highlights, eXpert PDF Reader's interface has a familiar look and feel, but with some unique touches, such as a Start button in the upper left corner of the interface. Clicking this button let us open, save, e-mail and print documents and access document properties, functions we could also access from a mini-toolbar. We opened a PDF-based product manual, which eXpert PDF Reader displayed cleanly and accurately. The program offers the familiar "hand" cursor and many features common to PDF readers. The Comment section on the toolbar let us attach files and sticky notes to our document and annotate it with a pencil, stamp, highlights, or text box. We selected the pencil tool, which opened a tab on the interface that let us configure the line's width, color, and opacity. The rubber stamp tool contained a lot of standard business annotations like Approved, including dates and initials. However, the annotations won't work on every document; for instance, we couldn't annotate protected documents like manuals, but we could make changes to PDFs we'd created, including copies and decrypted documents. We clicked the Help button, but nothing happened. We'd like to see a viable Help file, but we had few other complaints.

It makes little sense (and takes too much time) to open a bloated PDF editor just to view a file. So using a lightweight tool like eXpert PDF Reader as your default PDF reader makes sense, since you can always open your full-featured PDF editor when you need it. With this free tool's annotation extras, that won't be very often, and eXpert also offers a paid upgrade with more features.

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