Foxit Software Foxit Reader 3.0

Foxit Reader 3.0 is a free PDF reader that provides competition for Adobe Reader.

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Foxit Software Foxit Reader 3.0
  • Foxit Software Foxit Reader 3.0
  • Foxit Software Foxit Reader 3.0

Pros

  • It edges out Adobe Reader with its annotation and mark up features, fast app startup and file opening speeds

Cons

  • If you're not diligent it installs unwanted plugins by default

Bottom Line

If your need is for a simple program to read PDFs, both Foxit and Adobe Reader serve the purpose very well. Where Foxit Reader 3.0 has the edge is in its annotation and mark up features, expandable with the Pro version for much less than Adobe’s Acrobat.

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PDFs are everywhere, a ubiquitous and well-traded format that provides consistent looking pages across a variety of different computers and operating systems. Adobe devised and is most commonly associated with the Portable Document Format, although it is now an open standard registered with the ISO.

For most Windows users, the free Acrobat Reader — now simply called Adobe Reader — is the familiar way to open these files (Mac users tend to rely on Preview built into OS X, which speedily opens PDFs). But over the years Adobe's PDF reader has seemingly swelled in size and slowed down in its performance.

Another free solution is provided by Foxit Software with its PDF reader, now at version 3.0. Foxit Reader 3.0 boasts a small download size (3.6MB versus 41.1MB for the Adobe 9.1 package), fast launch speeds and a rich feature set.

As with other softwared offered for free, you have to be diligent when installing to ensure Foxit Reader 3.0 doesn't install unwanted plugins nor alter your PC defaults. In the case of Foxit, this behaviour includes installing a Firefox plugin; making Ask.com your default search engine; and creating desktop, quick launch and start menu icons for eBay. But if you do sell yourself with these additions, Foxit includes a couple of extra features only found in the paid-for Pro version.

New in the latest version is an Attachments Panel which lists all the attached files in a PDF, along with a Thumbnail Panel. You can also list the layers in a document, and an OnDemand content management feature is designed to allow group collaboration on documents.

We compared Foxit Reader 3.0 to Adober Reader 9.1, and found that in terms of app startup and file opening speeds, there was little between them.

Where Adobe Reader once started with a splashscreen while it loaded in the background, it now opens almost instantaneously.

We tried a 700-page PDF manual comprising text and images, and with both apps, the application load time coupled with file opening was less than two seconds. To ensure this wasn't a tribute to the laptop's processor, an Atom notebook was also enlisted — with similar results.

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