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Best free PDF readers for viewing and editing PDFs

About PDF readers

With the portable document format (PDF), you can create professional-looking documents that can then be viewed with a PDF reader or viewer. While you often need a paid application such as Acrobat Pro to create a PDF, you can easily find a free PDF viewer for almost any popular platform. PDF readers can be standalone desktop or mobile apps, or they can be built into a Web browser.


What to Look for in PDF Readers

PDF readers offer a similar and small set of features. All of them enable you to view the text and graphical elements in a PDF file. Most PDF readers let you print the contents of a PDF, and a few free readers offer simple tools for annotating or marking up the PDF and applying a digital signature. With so many good free PDF readers available, one thing you should not need to do is pay for one.

Best PDF Readers

You can find PDF readers as a dedicated app or as part of a related app.

Standalone PDF readers

Adobe Acrobat Reader

Adobe Acrobat Reader lets you read, print, and annotate PDFs.

Foxit Reader

Windows MacOS Linux

Foxit Reader enables you to view, annotate, and print PDFs.

Google PDF Viewer

Google PDF Viewer lets you view, print, and search PDF files.


PDF readers in other apps

Preview

Mac

Preview, which is integrated in MacOS, lets you view and annotate PDFs, as well as sign and fill in forms.

Google Drive

Web

Google Drive will automatically open any PDF stored in the cloud.

Google Chrome

For browsers, Google Chrome can automatically display a downloaded PDF in the browser window. Firefox includes a built-in PDF viewer. Safari and Microsoft Edge can also display PDFs.


Viewing PDFs in E-book Readers

E-book readers can display PDFs. With Amazon's Kindle readers, you can upload and view PDFs on the device. Barnes & Noble's Nook and Apple's iBooks also let you read PDFs.


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Clifford Colby follows the Mac and Android markets for Download.com. He's been an editor at Peachpit Press and a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWeek, MacUser, and Corporate Computing.