PDF (Portable Document Format) is a file format designed to open specifically with PDF reader software. The advantage of PDF is that it enables you to share documents with their exact formatting. For example, if you open an OpenOffice document in Word it might not retain exactly the same formatting. You can instead convert documents to PDF to preserve their exact formatting for whoever opens them. So there are a number of both freeware and paid PDF readers you can open documents with.
Windows 10 doesn’t include any specific PDF reader software. The default PDF reader is the Edge browser. Edge has fairly limited options for PDFs. These are some of the best PDF readers for Windows 10 you can replace Edge with.
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is the industry standard PDF reader. That isn’t surprising given that PDF is Adobe’s file format. Open this page on the Adobe website and click Install now to save its setup file (that will also add optional software unless you deselect their check boxes). Then open the installer to add Acrobat Reader DC to Windows 10, and launch its window as in the snapshot below.
One of the good things about Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is its tab UI. This enables you to open multiple PDF documents within separate tabs as shown directly below. Then you can switch between the documents by selecting their tabs on the tab bar. The navigation toolbar on the left enables you to navigate documents with page thumbnails or subheading bookmarks.
Adobe Acrobat also has good selection of editing and annotation tools. Click Tools > Edit PDF and then select Edit PDF on the toolbar to open a submenu with extra options on it. Select Comment to open the tools shown in the snapshot below. With those options you can add sticky notes, stamps and text boxes to the documents. In addition, the toolbar also includes highlighter, strikethrough and underline text formatting options.
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC has a freeware and Pro version. The downside is that quite a few of its more advanced tools are only available in the Pro version, which has a $14.99 Document Cloud subscription. With that version you can compare and merge PDF documents, insert rich media, compress the PDFs and more besides.
Gaaiho Reader is a freeware PDF Reader loaded with PDF options. Head over to the Gaaiho PDF Reader page and click Download there to save its installer. Once you’ve installed it, open the software’s window in the shot and below.
Gaaiho has an elegant UI comparable to the MS Office applications. It’s a ribbon UI with toolbars included within five tabs. Most of the options are on the Comment tab directly below.
There you can select formatting options such as Underline and Cross-out. Like most PDF readers, Gaaiho has a highlighter; but you can also highlight more expansive areas with the Highlight Area tool. You can add new text to documents with the Typewriter and Text Box options. Or click Note to add some notifications to the PDF.
The Comment tab has an extensive set of drawing tools. With those you can add circles, squares, polygons and arrows to the document. Furthermore, the draw tools include a palette that you can adjust the outline colors with.
In addition, Gaaiho has a good selection of stamps. Click Stamps on the Comment tab to open the sidebar in the snapshot below. Then you can add some standard, legal or more dynamic stamps to the PDF.
On the Home tab there’s also a Handwritten Signature option. You can select that to add a signature to the PDF with either the mouse or keyboard.
The PDF Manager is a more novel option on the Home tab. That option scans for PDFs in all your folders. Then it displays the PDFs in a thumbnail list as below. This can be a handy search tool if you’re not sure where you saved a PDF.
Foxit Reader is another polished PDF package for Windows 10. Download its installer from this Softpedia page. Go through its setup wizard to install the software, and then open the Foxit window below.
The program has a robust tab UI comparable to Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. So you can open multiple PDFs in tabs. It includes a Start tab from which you can open PDF documents. At the top of the window Foxit has a ribbon UI with toolbar tabs. You can customize the ribbon by right-clicking a toolbar and selecting Customize the Ribbon. The software also has tooltips that provide some extra details for options when you hover the cursor over them.
Foxit’s Comment tab includes the annotation options. There you can select up to six markup options for PDFs. You can add text to the documents with the Typewriter tool, and that includes more extensive formatting options for the fonts such as Bold, Italic, Underline, Strikethrough, Superscript and Underscript. Plus there are also drawing, measurement and stamp options on the tab.
On the Home tab there’s a Snapshot option that copies parts of the PDF to the Clipboard, which you can then paste into Paint with the Ctrl + V hotkey. Add signatures to the documents with the PDF Sign option there. Plus you can also add video, audio and images to PDFs with the Insert options on Home tab.
The Best of the Rest
Foxit, Adobe Acrobat Reader DC and Gaaiho are three of the best PDF readers. Plus there are some other good PDF readers worth noting. Among them is Soda PDF 8 that has more extensive options than most of the others. With that you can create PDFs from various file formats, add textual stamps, geometric shapes and stickers to documents. It also has unique page-flipping that enables you to view the docs in 3D. The Pro package supports OCR with which you can turn a scanned image or document into editable PDF. However, this software is retailing at $49 and doesn’t have a freeware version.
Another PDF reader to note is PDF-Xchange Viewer, which is a versatile package. This also has a tab UI and can handle any kind of PDF document. It includes extensive editing options to annotate PDFs with. It also boasts more unique distance, area and perimeter tools than alternative PDF readers. The software is retailing at $79.50 and has a limited free version.
Those are some of the best PDF readers for Windows 10 and other platforms. They’re crammed with goodies for annotating, creating, converting and displaying PDF documents. However, if you need more extensive editing options to adjust document layout with, check out the Infix PDF Editor software covered in this Tech Junkie guide.