Free PDF Reader and Writer

It seems to me that Adobe's Acrobat product is falling victim to the Bloated Software Syndrome. The reader used to be a quick-loading application that made viewing PDF documents effortless. Now, opening a PDF document seems to require an unusually long time and an unnecessary amount of system resources. The writer has also ballooned in to a resource hog, but at least it has the excuse of providing a lot of functionality. The problem is that most of the functionality goes unused.

For those of us that just want to quickly view PDF documents and occasionally create them from other applications like Word and Excel, there are 2 free programs that do the trick. The first program is Foxit Reader which is self-described as a small, fast, and clean PDF reader for everyday use. I couldn't agree more. Opening a PDF document is now instantaneous. This reader also has the added bonus of not requiring an installation. Simply download it and unzip it. It is a single file that automatically associates itself with PDF files. Bye bye Acrobat Reader.

The second program is PDFCreator which, once installed, is used like a printer. When you're ready to create a PDF document from, for example, Word, simply print the document and select the PDF Creator “printer”. Within moments you'll have a copy of your document in a PDF. Two workflow features I particularly like are the auto-save mode which allows you to print a document without needing to interact with any extra dialogs and automatically creating PDF in the same directory as the original document. Note: When downloading this program, make sure you select a version that includes GhostScript.

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  1. Perfect! You caught both of the PDF alternatives I would have mentioned if you didn't. . .Foxit Reader and PDFCreator. These two programs actually are pretty amazing and FREE.

  2. Thanks Darrell. I tried PrimoPDF and it works as advertised. However, two features that I like about PDFCreator that are missing in PrimoPDF are 1) the ability to specify a default filename so that you don't need to deal with a pop-up window and 2) the ability to output to formats other than PDF such as PNG.

  3. PrimoPDF is another freebie.

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