Yet Another PDF Viewer

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key review info
application features
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The popularity of PDF files has increased a lot lately, especially because it's a very versatile type of document that will offer users a high level of customization. Top of the list is the fact that you can also secure them at several levels of encryption, and these entire features place this file format at the top of users' preferences.

Needless to say, you will need the proper software to view this special type of file. And this is where Free PDF Reader comes in the picture: a small and rather straightforward tool designed to allow users to only access their PDF files. In addition, this application is free of charge and only requires a computer with a PENTIUM II processor running at 667MHz with 128M RAM. Furthermore, both the computer beginners and the experts alike will surely notice and appreciate the software's intuitive graphical interface.

Unfortunately, this tool comes with a bug straight from the installation process. Especially on computers that have freshly installed Windows, a certain error might appear. The program will report that it can’t find the comdlg32.ocx or mscomctl.oxc runtime library and thus it cannot run. In order to solve this problem, you will have to copy the needed library in the System32 folder of Windows. You can find these two on some websites that are dedicated to providing Windows libraries.

After you’ve done that, you have to open your command prompt and run this command: regsvr32 %Systemroot%\System32\comdlg32.ocx or regsvr32 %Systemroot%\System32\mscomctl.oxc according to the case. If you have Windows Vista or 7, you will have to run your command console with administrator privileges. You should receive this message: DllRegisterServer in C:\WINDOWS\System32\comdlg32.ocx succeeded, and then Free PDF Reader will work.

On other systems, mostly on systems that have had their share of installed applications, this bug does not appear. This is quite a serious bug that might keep a lot of users away from this tool, given the fact that it’s not exactly comfortable to have to go through all that trouble in order to run an application on a freshly installed Windows OS.

First and foremost, you will be required to select the PDF file you want to view, and you can either use the designated button in the toolbar or by accessing the File menu. This is the moment where you start discovering the functions of the app, most of them meant to provide a better view of the document you have opened. For instance, you can rotate the PDF file to left or right, set it to be presented at its actual size, or you can make it fit the height or the width of the window according to your interest at any given moment. The standard zoom in and zoom out options are also available.

Page navigation is another thing that the developer of Free PDF Reader has taken into consideration, as you will be able to browse through pages with the help of the dedicated buttons or the Document menu. This section will allow you not only to jump to the first, last, previous or next page, as one would normally expect, but manually select the page that you want to read by using the Go to page option.

Moreover, another benefit of this software is that it also enables you to navigate between views. More precisely, if you have selected the Fit Height option and you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can easily change back to the former view type by using the Previous view options in the Document menu. Additionally, you could select the single page view or the multi-page one as well. For a better page browsing, Free PDF Reader includes the Show / Hide Index option that will actually display a list of your document’s pages in the left side of the application’s main window. Thus, you can easily leap from the first to the 15th page with just one click.

Whenever you need to manage large documents or you just want to locate a specific string, you can use the Find text feature to reach the needed information in no time. This option can be found in the Search menu and you simply need to type a word, then let Free PDF Reader do the rest. You can filter the search process by selecting letter-case matching for the keyword you are using.

Moving on to the Tools menu, you can activate the hand tool that will offer you the possibility to easily navigate through your document. This menu will also provide access to the Select text option, which basically means that you can mark a text section that interests you and then copy it. When it comes to copy ways, the contextual menu will reveal the options. You can use the Select the text, option that will paste the text content, or the Snapshot one that will basically copy it as an image. For the users writing a paper based on data from a PDF file, the fact that you can also format the text will come as a great help.

You will notice the PDF converter option in the Tools menu as well, but this will only allow you to download the PDF conversion tool that the developers of Free PDF Reader offer, called PDFZilla. In other words, the application in itself cannot perform any PDF conversion. Even if you have PDFZilla installed on your computer, this option will not give you a quick access to this application.

The Save as option is another one that could prove to be rather useless given the fact that you can only change the name of the file without modifying its extension, since it offers support only for the PDF format. The advanced users might require a little more from a tool of this sort, at least having the chance to save it as a DOC or TXT document.

The one thing that will certainly annoy the advanced users is the fact that one of the important features of the PDF file format, the security options, are not being exploited by this software. You don't have the possibility of viewing the documents properties. So, to be honest, not only that it doesn't bring anything new to the table, but it lacks some of the important options of the most common PDF viewing solution, Adobe Reader . The one thing that makes this tool special when it comes to security options is the fact that it is able to print a PDF document that has been secured against printing. Despite this fact, Free PDF Reader is definitely a tool designed for the beginner users that only want to be able to view their PDF files and just that…no fancy options.

The users that are concerned about their computer’s health will certainly notice the RAM usage. This application unfortunately eats up about 30 Mb of RAM, a sum that will certainly be considered quite a lot. Still, we have to mention that it doesn’t bring an improvement to this sector in comparison to Adobe Acrobat Reader, but it’s not worse either…. It’s just the same.

One of the things that might interest the users caring for their computer’s health and data protection is that given the fact that Free PDF Reader is a smaller tool, less appealing to hackers, it just might be safer when it comes to vulnerabilities to use this tool. Taking into consideration that Adobe Reader has received a lot of blows in terms of security, this detail might mean a lot to the ones that want to keep their computers and data out of harm’s way.

To wrap it up, Free PDF Reader is a simple and easy-to-use utility that will enable you to view the PDF documents you work with... and pretty much that's it. You will only be able to copy text as images without any possibility of further customizing the selection, and this is probably the most important drawback of the app. However, this tool will prove to be useful enough for beginner users who don't want or need a complex tool and simply require a basic reader for their PDF files.


The Good

Its interface and functionality simplicity is the greatest advantage that Free PDF Reader has. You can access your PDF documents in several views and zoom levels, and this is all you need when reading a PDF file. The fact that you are less likely to get hacked through this application is a plus worth mentioning. In this case, the very fact that it’s not so popular becomes one of its strengths.

The Bad

The RAM usage is the biggest drawback considering that we are, in fact, only talking about a viewer. So when thinking about the tool you want to use to view your PDF files, you might just reconsider if your system is a little low. Of course, we have to mention the install error that you might get that will basically stop you from ever trying this software.

The Truth

All in all, Free PDF Reader is a utility that does the job it was set to do and that's all you will get from it. The fact that it doesn’t bring a plus when it comes to RAM usage might be considered a drawback especially by the users that have a not so great computer configuration. Although it’s not all that different from Acrobat Reader, its lack of vulnerabilities make it a good choice for the users that want to keep their computer safe.

Here are some snapshots of the application in action:

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user interface 4
features 3
ease of use 2
pricing / value 3


final rating 3
Editor's review
good
 
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