PDFChef by Movavi

  • Creating a PDF document from scratch

  • Adding text, images, and other content

  • Applying digital signatures

  • Converting PDFs to various file formats

Fast PDF Reader Alternatives to Complex, Over-Featured Software

Edited by Ben Jacklin

Constantly working with digital materials means we often need to read PDFs. We have summarized here the most popular PDF readers that can be helpful at work, whether you need to read an e-book without an e-reader or look through daily reports on-the-go.

Top 6 PDF readers & editors

Everything you need from PDF software

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

Price: $35.99 per year

PDFChef is a multifunctional tool for viewing and editing PDF files. For comfortable reading, you can change the display settings using the View menu; this menu also contains commands for fitting pages to the width of the window, fitting pages to the height of the window, and for setting a custom scale. For more advanced tasks, the program also offers the Edit Objects and Pages modes.

If you are looking for how to download this PDF reader, just click on the appropriate link above for your operating system.


  • Ultra lightweight reader app is only 43.6 MB

  • Modern, intuitive interface

  • Continuous scrolling

  • Easy zoom-in/zoom-out


  • Lack of annotation tools (will be updated soon)

Verdict: PDFChef by Movavi is a must-have PDF tool for PC and Mac users. Thanks to the feature set and operating speed, PDFChef outpaces many other offline software solutions.

For more information, click the link below.

Go to the G2 website

Great option for viewing and reading

Compatibility: Windows

Price: $84.00/year for the premium version

Soda PDF is consistently rated highly among most popular PDF readers and viewers. The software offers a valuable bookmarks feature, which lets you orient yourself within multipage PDF documents. It also has a number of different view modes, including the 3D View function with animated page flipping. Soda PDF also has additional tools for reviewing and annotating documents, but these are available for premium users only.


  • Fast navigation in chapters and sections

  • Unique 3D page-flipping technology

  • Cloud storage integration


  • Reviewing available for premium users only

Verdict: Soda PDF is full-featured PDF viewing software for Windows and Mac. This program might be a little overwhelming for beginners because of the large number of menus and features.

You’ll find a detailed review on the website linked below.

Go the PCMag website

Best free option

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux, Citrix

Price: free

Foxit Reader is a quite simple, fast tool for reading and reviewing PDF documents and also includes other useful features. The program lets you view, print, and share your documents for free.


  • Fast PDF loading and processing

  • Built-in night mode

  • Automated changelog generation


  • Popup ads appearing on the tab panel

  • The text-to-speech synthesizer uses a robotic voice

Verdict: Foxit Reader is a free app with basic PDF- viewing and editing functionality, suitable for many PDF-related tasks. It does automatically set itself as the default PDF reader while installing, so you may have to figure out how to change the default PDF reader.

Here’s a link to TechRadar’s review of the program.

Go to the TechRadar website

Best choice for advanced editing

Compatibility: Mac

Price: $79.95

Another alternative for reading PDF files is the PDFpen PDF editor. PDFpen is powerful PDF software for Mac users that offers basic PDF viewing functionality in the trial version and full-fledged editing tools for premium users. The free trial has no time limit; the premium costs a small fortune at $79.95.


  • Page numbering

  • Advanced PDF search option

  • Full screen mode


  • Can be unstable

Verdict: The software is currently only available for Mac users, so if you are looking for PDF reader for Windows (10, 8, 7, Vista), we recommend skipping this program. If you just want to read PDF files, we recommend you use the trial version.

For more information, read the review linked below.

Go to the Capterra website

Great option for Apple users

Compatibility: Mac

Price: $79.99

PDF Expert is another PDF reader for Mac that is worthy of attention. It’s not overloaded with features, but it does let you open and make basic edits to PDF documents, including adding and removing text, inserting images, and rearranging pages. PDF expert also has a free app for iOS, so you can edit documents on your mobile device and easily transfer them to your computer.


  • Undo/Redo option

  • Day/Night & Brightness mode

  • Synchronizes with Dropbox


  • Poor interface

  • No tabs available

Verdict: PDF Expert is a free PDF reader and writer, suitable for macOS and iOS users. The bad news is that you can't use it to open multiple documents at one time.

To read a detailed review, follow the link below.

Go to the Macworld website

Best cross-platform option

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

Price: depends on the platform and the type of purchase (from $19 to $119)

Kdan PDF Reader is a winner when it comes to the number of platforms it runs on. It’s especially useful for users of Android and iOS devices since there’s not as much PDF-editing software to choose from, and Kdan PDF Reader has plenty of features regular apps lack. It lets you fill PDF forms, add signatures, convert text to speech, and much more. If you want to have an actual cross-platform experience, purchase the Document 365 subscription. It will let you use the app on the full range of available devices and take advantage of 1 TB of storage space on Kdan Cloud.


  • Integration with the most popular cloud services, including iCloud Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, etc.

  • Adding handwritten notes with a stylus or finger.

  • Optical character recognition to extract text from pictures.


  • There’s no clear description of all the pricing options for every platform on the website.

Verdict: This software works best for people who work with PDFs on multiple devices daily and who won’t hesitate to purchase the Document 365 subscription. It’s also a good app if you work primarily on a portable device (Android phone or tablet, iPhone, or iPad). However, if your main platform is a Windows or Mac computer, you may find more inexpensive or even free options with a relatively similar feature pool.

We have outlined the top 6 PDF readers & editors for desktop users. We hope you find it useful.

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