PDF Viewing Software

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This is a selected list of software used to view (read) Portable Document Format (PDF) documents. The various functions of PDF Viewers is not entirely clear-cut; for example, some viewers allow adding of annotations, signatures, saving in other formats etc. These software products allow users to view (not edit or modify) any existing PDF file. Many of these readers are available on multiple operating systems, notably Windows, macOS, iOS/iPadOS and Android. Some of the suppliers also support web-based PDF viewers (usually via static or dynamic conversion to HTML5, but in some instances by conversion to pages as images). In addition to the list below, there are a huge number of mobile app PDF readers from a wide range of different providers.

Name License Description
Adobe Reader Proprietary, freeware Adobe's PDF reader, PDF Viewer / Reader for Desktop computer and Mobile Devices
DigiSigner Proprietary, freeware PDF viewer with added function to digitally sign PDF documents
Evince GPL-lic Universal viewer for GNOME (a not-for-profit organization and free software project)
Foxit Reader Proprietary, freeware/adware PDF Viewer / Reader for Desktop computer and Mobile Devices. Allows users to add many elements to PDFs (e.g. arrowed comment boxes, text boxes, links, bookmarks, and images)
Ghostview Aladdin Free Public License An X11 graphical interface for Ghostscript - now rather out-of-date
Javelin PDF Reader Proprietary, freeware A full functionality PDF reader with support for DRM using encoded and encrypted PDF files in Drumlin's DRMX and DRMZ formats. For Windows, macOS and Android the readers are called Javelin3, for iOS/iPadOS it is simply Javelin. Early releases of Javelin (v2 for Windows) are based on the XPDF code (see below and our PDF Wiki entries for Javelin)
PDFIUM Project BSD-lic PDF library, the basis for the Chrome web browser PDF Viewer - derived from Foxit's PDF library
MuPDF Proprietary/Affero General Public License|AGPL PDF conversion and rendering with anti-aliased graphics.
Okular GPL-lic Universal viewer by KDE
PDF.js Apache License 2.0 A JavaScript library to convert PDF files into HTML5, usable as a web-based viewer that can be included in web browsers. Firefox has PDF.js built-in by default.
PDFIUM Project BSD-lic PDF library, the basis for the Chrome web browser PDF Viewer - derived from Foxit's PDF library
Preview Included in macOS macOS's default PDF viewer; in Mac OS X v10.5 and later, it also can rotate, reorder, annotate, insert, and delete pages. It can also merge files, create new files from existing files, and move pages between files
Qiqqa Proprietary, freeware View PDFs in a variety of zoom layouts, annotate, tag, search, cross-reference.
Skim Proprietary, freeware an open-source (BSD licence) PDF reader and note-taker for macOS
Sumatra PDF GNU General Public License|GNU GPL v3 SumatraPDF is a free PDF, EPUB, MOBI, CHM, XPS, DjVu, CBZ and CBR reader for Windows. View PDFs in a variety of zoom layouts, annotate, search
Xpdf Proprietary/GNU GPL Multi-platform viewer; source and binaries available for Linux, Windows and Macintosh

Web-based

  • Annotate: a web service which views PDF documents as HTML in the browser, with annotation features
  • Issuu: a web service which allows viewing PDF documents online, notably magazines
  • Google Docs: a web service which views PDF documents as PNG images in the browser
  • Scribd: a web service which renders PDF documents as HTML5 in the browser
  • PDF.js: A free Javascript-based library, with viewer, and browser extension, produced and managed via Mozilla
  • PDFTron Systems: WebViewer. A commercial JavaScript viewer and annotator for self-hosting of web optimized PDFs
  • Webdoxx: Webdoxx services for online hosting of PDFs with fast display in HTML5, with a range of content protection and access control features. Provided by Drumlin Security Ltd
  • SmallPDF: Web-based PDF viewer with a range of additional features, such as form filling