Foxit Reader: Quick as a flash PDF viewing and editing

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Today’s standard for reading PDF files is Adobe Reader, but there are certainly other options. One of them is Foxit Reader, a lighter alternative for opening PDF files that goes easy on your system’s resources and at the same time provides plenty of features capable of satisfying most users.

Installation & Requirements

While the install process is lightning fast, the setup prior to installation may be somewhat confusing. At the beginning of the setup, an adware window is present, attempting to install a browser toolbar and set Ask as your default search and homepage, so be sure to opt out before advancing to the next window. Towards the end of the setup process you will have to select which components are to be installed. Among these, there is one component containing add-ons for Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome which you should skip, unless you want an additional toolbar ocupying space on your browser.

To wrap up the install process, you will be presented with some functionality related options in the “Select Additional Tasks” setup window, such as create desktop and Quick Launch icons and set Foxit Reader as your default PDF viewer.

Concerning system requirements, Foxit Reader works on any of the following operating systems:

– Both 32 and 640bit versions of Microsoft Windows XP Home, Professional, or Tablet PC Edition with Service Pack 2 or 3.

– Both 32 and 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise with or without Service Pack 1.

– 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows 7.

The recommended minimum hardware requirements state you should have at least a 1.3 GHz CPU, 64 MB RAM, 52 MB free hard drive space and 800×600 screen resolution.

Interface

Foxit Reader’s GUI displays a rich set of features, but it’s layout complies to Windows Explorer standards so it will look familiar even for new users. Regarding customization, you will be able to choose from two different view modes: Classic or Tabbed Toolbar mode. The difference between these views is that in the Classic view, the toolbar has drop-down submenus and in Tabbed view these are obviously tabs. Also the toolbar categories are slightly different from one view to another. We found both very easy to navigate so deciding on one comes down to a matter of personal taste.

To continue, opened PDF files are also displayed as tabs, which will allow you to easily switch between multiple documents. You can also customize how PDFs are displayed, such as the 2 or 4 ways split that enable you to view different parts of a document simultaneously.

The icon-based sidebar shows some basic options to display bookmarks, pages, layers, comments, attachments and signatures. While this is not a PDF creator, it does provide several editing options accessible from the Edit menu or by selecting a block of text and right-clicking on the screen.

Other useful features worth mentioning are e-mail and Facebook integration, the text-only, full screen and safe reading view modes and the neat option for deploying an Internet search that appears every time you select a chunk of text.

Just as expected, Foxit Reader also includes a collection of proofreading and collaborative tools, such as text highlighting, strike out, replace, adding pop-ups, basic drawing capabilities and comment related options such as hide/show and export/import.

Concerning looks, the built-in skins are basically different color schemes. We would have loved to see actual skins with different styles, icons and whatnot, but this not bad either.

Pros

– Small and lightweight free program that enables very fast access even to large PDF documents.

– Multiple options for functionality related customizing are available.

– The friendly interface provides a plethora of features and tools for PDF viewing, editing, sharing and others.

– The built-in skins enables you to change the GUIs color scheme.

– Free phone and e-mail support for all registered users.

Cons

– Adware is present during the install process and within the program’s interface through the “Start” tab and a rectangle button that links to commercial Foxit software, present in the tabs area. The good part is that the “Start” tab and the adware button can be removed from the View menu.

– There is not even a basic function for PDF creation.

Alternatives

We’ve already mentioned that Adobe Reader is the most popular free PDF viewer but it comes with the cost of additional features (which most users do not need), slower PDF access speed and significantly higher consumption of system resources. Other light, freeware alternatives to Foxit Reader are Sumatra PDF, PDF-XChange Viewer and Nitro Reader which also has PDF creation tools.

Conclusion

As long as you’re fine with the lack of PDF creation function, Foxit Reader is truly an amazing tool when it comes to PDF access and editing. The program is equipped with a solid collection of features, while remaining lightweight and blazing fast, even when it comes to opening enormous PDF documents.