Adobe Acrobat Reader is one of the most popular and top rated PDF readers for a reason. As the creators of the PDF and with all the features they provide, Adobe’s products are considered the gold standard. That being said, Acrobat Reader DC is a fairly large program for a PDF reader and can be taxing and less responsive on lower end and older systems.
Luckily there are many alternatives to Adobe’s Acrobat Reader, some specifically designed to be more lightweight and simple. Just how lightweight and simple varies. Some are on par with Acrobat Reader DC feature wise, but just a bit more streamlined. Others are made as small and simple as possible and aren’t able to do much more than display PDF files.
Which kind of PDF reader you want will depend on your needs. I’ve gone through many of these Adobe Acrobat Reader alternatives and chosen three that I think are the best you’ll find and strike a balance between being lightweight but also having good features.
Top Choice: Foxit Reader
Already a great Adobe alternative overall, Foxit Reader makes for a good lightweight PDF reader. While only around 100 MB smaller than Adobe Acrobat Reader DC when installed, Foxit Reader is also lightweight in that it’s less resource intensive, a bit faster and arguably has a more streamlined user interface.
Foxit Reader has many of the same features that Acrobat Reader has, or at least comparable ones. Such as Read Mode, commenting and annotation tools, text to speech, form filling, document signing and cloud storage integration. It also has some unique features, like Text Viewer mode, which displays the PDF in just simplified text, similar to a Notepad file.
Another unique feature Foxit Reader has is access to Foxit’s own ConnectedPDF format and technology, which integrates well with Foxit’s security, collaboration and sharing features. Most of these features will require a free Foxit Cloud account, or even an upgrade to PhantomPDF.
Second Choice: Slim PDF Reader
True to its name, Slim PDF Reader is a very small program, taking up less than 1/4th the space of Foxit Reader when installed. Despite being small and lightweight, Slim PDF Reader actually has a lot of features beyond just viewing PDFs. This includes a variety of annotation tools, like adding sticky notes, highlighting and underlining text, and even adding links and attaching files.
Third Choice: Sumatra PDF
The smallest and simplest of the three, Sumatra PDF is truly a lightweight PDF reader. While it doesn’t have some of the more advanced features like annotating or cloud storage access, Sumatra PDF makes for a great way to quickly and easily read PDFs, as well as other file types like ePub, MOBI, XPS and DjVu. Sumatra PDF can also be portable, just put it in a folder on a USB drive and run it on any Windows PC you plug it into.
That covers the lightweight Adobe Reader alternatives I’ve chosen. Which one is best for you will depend on the balance of features you need and how small and light you want the program to be.