Tim Bray’s recent posting on potentially moving away from the Mac to Ubuntu reminded me how much I like the small, lightweight alternatives to Adobe Acrobat Reader on Ubuntu. While trying to read a PDF file that same day on a Windows machine, I instead got yet another Adobe reminder about an Acrobat Reader upgrade and “related” useless add-ons that were far outside of Adobe’s core competencies (a photo album?). The Reader upgrade was marked as “critical,” and it also told me that I could continue using Reader while it installed, so I told it to go ahead.
The latter part was a lie. It closed Reader, so during the upgrade I did a Google search for “pdf reader windows” and discovered Foxit Reader. It’s free, and there’s no installation routine; you just start up the one-meg EXE file and you’re using it. Quickly.
I love it, and highly recommend it. At first Firefox still opened downloaded documents in Acrobat, but I found out from Lifehacker how to get Firefox to use Foxit instead. I’ve spent too much time on various tricks to get Adobe Reader to start up faster, but no more. Foxit Reader will definitely add a few more free minutes to each of my working days, and I’ll be happy to never again have to look at an Adobe upgrade notice when I’m trying to read a PDF file.