View and convert PDFs fast with PDF Reader for Windows 7

Display and convert PDFs with this lightweight Windows freeware.

PDF Reader for Windows 7 is a fast, lightweight freeware reader that can display and print PDFs as well as convert them into a wide range of other formats. It's designed to integrate with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 as the default PDF viewer, but it's also backward-compatible with Vista, XP, Windows 2000, and some server releases. It doesn't create PDFs; for that job, you'll still need a full-featured PDF software program, such as the one the developer also offers as a paid upgrade. We tried the freeware PDF Reader for Windows 7 in Windows 7 Home Premium SP1.

PDF Reader's colorful layout is simple but attractive, with a nicely rendered toolbar that basically replicates the most essential commands from the Menu bar. We could choose to hide or display the Menu bar, Tool bar, and Status bar by clicking the Options menu and checking or unchecking the appropriate boxes. The Tools menu is notable for a slideshow feature as well as an option to set the program as your system's default PDF reader. We pressed Help, and the program opened a Web site offering e-mail support as well as a tutorial and PDF manual for the aforementioned premium software. However, most users will find PDF Reader easy to figure out: open your PDF, adjust the view by zooming and rotating, and either print the document or save it in a different format.

We started by opening some PDF files we keep for just such a purpose. PDF Reader opens files quickly, even large, multipage files. Files were rendered nicely, including color images, and the image and page navigation commands worked well. To convert PDFs, we simply saved files in our choice of a variety of formats: TXT, BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, WMF, EMF, and EPS. We could also print PDFs and view document property sheets. While that's about the limit of what PDF Reader for Windows 7 does, that's what most users need in a free PDF reader, and is similar to the capabilities of other tools of its type. We did notice that it seemed faster than certain big-box freeware, though.

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