Back in the 1990’s one of Adobe’s founder John Warnock kicked off an internal project at Adobe to create a file format so documents could be spread throughout the company and displayed on any computer using any operating system.

The first time Adobe actually talked about this technology was at a Seybold conference in San Jose in 1991.

It may be the first known attempt at the paperless office.


In his paper which led to the development of PDF, John Warnock wrote: ‘Imagine being able to send full text and graphics documents (newspapers, magazine articles, technical manuals etc.) over electronic mail distribution networks. These documents could be viewed on any machine and any selected document could be printed locally. This capability would truly change the way information is managed.’

Well, here we are years later and the PDF is one of the most if not the most widely used document formats in business. But Adobe is not the only player in town when it comes to working with PDFs.

In fact their free PDF Reader (Acrobat Reader DC) is being replaced everyday with other PDF readers that offer different features and may be easier to use in certain cases.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a big Adobe fan and use some of their other tools but there are better free PDF readers on the market in my opinion.

There are lots of FREE PDF Readers out there. Here are what I consider to be the top 5 non-adobe PDF readers.

  1. Sumatra
  2. FoxIt
  3. Expert PDF Reader
  4.  Nuance PDF Reader
  5. Nitro PDF

Of course you can always type into google what you need in a pdf reader. Google knows everything.

I usually recommend FoxIt Reader which can be downloaded here just because I am most familiar with it. Both Adobe and FoxIt have all the cloud options built in but I usually disable that and other things to increase performance and keep down the clutter.

So which PDF reader is right for you?

It really depends on what your needs are. Think about what it is that you wish you could do on your PDF documents and then search for one that offers that feature. There are full versions of these products that cost money but we are only talking about free ones here.

One of my customers said to me…”I wish we could type a note on our documents” So, I sent them the download link to FoxIT. Then later I saw how it was being used and discovered that there are some advertising that needs turned off and a “Welcome Page” that needed disabled among other things.

So, since every user has their own settings this can be difficult to manage with lots of users it is a good idea to make instructions for everyone.

Making this instruction document may take 5 or 10 minutes but will be well worth the effort.

So, if you thought you were stuck with Adobe Reader, you’re not. There are options out there.

Send your questions to ……..if I have an instruction document or video already made I’ll send it to you.

Want to talk more about a paperless office?