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Free PDF readers and creators

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When you hear “PDF”, the first thing you probably think about in terms of software is the ‘Adobe‘ brand (and perhaps more specifically the Adobe Reader). The Portable Document Format is a format that was created by Adobe. The Adobe Reader (free PDF viewer) and Adobe Acrobat (commercial PDF creator) are quite popular software when it comes to dealing with PDFs. However, it seems that with every new release of the free Adobe Reader, the size and resource demand of the application seem to grow (see Adobe Reader 9). Although upgrading is not always necessary, security and bug fixes are enough to force us to step up, but frequently that goes at the cost of overall PC performance. Why slow down your PC unnecessarily? Why should viewing a PDF cause your memory and CPU usage footprint to spike? Well, as good as Adobe products are, when it comes to PDFs, there are some good FREE alternative readers and creators. Here are a few that I have found that will not be taxing on your wallet nor your system.


  • Foxit Reader Free – “Foxit Reader is a free PDF document viewer and printer, with incredible small size (only 2.55 M download size), breezing-fast launch speed and rich feature set. Foxit Reader supports Windows Me/2000/XP/2003/Vista. Its core function is compatible with PDF Standard 1.7.”
  • Sumatra PDF – “Sumatra PDF is a slim, free, open-source PDF viewer for Windows. Sumatra has a minimalistic design. Simplicity has a higher priority than a lot of features. It’s small and starts up very fast. It’s designed for portable use: it’s just one file with no external dependencies so you can easily run it from external USB drive.”
  • Drumlin PDF Reader – “This is a high security PDF reader and secure PDF publisher. Although it is fast, has a small footprint and is rich in functionality, its uniqueness is in its integrated secure publishing and authorisation facilities. Drumlin can be used to create strongly encrypted versions of PDF files.”


  • PDFCreator – “PDFCreator is a free tool to create PDF files from nearly any Windows application. Create PDFs from any program that is able to print. Encrypt PDFs and protect them from being opened, printed etc. Create more than just PDFs: PNG, JPG, TIFF, BMP, PCX, PS, EPS.”
  • doPDF – “doPDF is a free PDF converter for both personal and commercial use. Using doPDF you can create PDF files by selecting the “Print” command from virtually any application. With one click you can convert your Microsoft Excel, Word or PowerPoint documents or your emails and favorite web sites to PDF files.”
  • PrimoPDF – “Completely free PDF creator – Create PDF files from 300+ file types. Make 100% industry-standard PDF from any files that print. Create PDF files optimized for print, screen, ebook, or prepress.”
  • CutePDF Writer – “CutePDF Writer (formerly CutePDF Printer) is the free version of commercial PDF creation software. CutePDF Writer installs itself as a “printer subsystem”. This enables virtually any Windows applications (must be able to print) to create professional quality PDF documents – with just a push of a button!”

There are also converters that you may not know you had. The OpenOffice suite of applications have “export to PDF” features built right in. Microsoft Office 2007 also has an add-on that you can use to convert your office documents directly to PDF. If you would prefer not to install any software at all, the free Zamzar will convert your files to PDF (and other formats as well).


Written by falcon1986

25 July, 2008 at 10:25 PM

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