Adobe Acrobat Reader DC Reviews

Quite possibly the worst PDF reader

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Acrobat Reader DC is almost certainly the worst PDF document reader out there, which is pretty ironic as it's the one by the same company that also created and maintains the format. It's one of the prime examples why a site like alternativeTo is great to have, because most people will, sooner or later, be looking for a way to avoid having to use it.

Functionality in the read-only free version is severely limited. It doesn't include even the most basic editing and reorganisation tools. Thousands of simplistic scripts allow you to extract, inject, reorder, rotate pages etc. from the command-line, and there are numerous free web applications that offer much more advanced editing capabilities. Filling out forms or signing documents is about as far as Reader DC's feature set goes.

It's also incredibly slow. Compare opening a large document in Acrobat Reader to the already more bloated alternatives such as Nitro Reader or Foxit Reader – it commonly takes several times as long to just get the document to display. The difference is even more extreme when compared to more basic readers such as eVince and Okular.

But now that you have the document on your screen, that's where the problems only really start. Have you ever tried scrolling through a large document with pictures in Acrobat Reader? Better forget about it! Give your mouse scroll wheel a slight spin, and spend the next ten seconds watching the document slowly inch its way down – without any possibility of stopping it if you overshoot your target. Even if you scroll the wheel back up, you'll have to wait until Reader has recovered, and then can have another shot at aiming for the spot you wanted to scroll to. Even the JavaScript-based PDF renderers of modern browsers are usually faster in comparison. It baffles my mind how the code can be so poorly optimised as to make scrolling through a document completely overwhelm a quadcore, 64-bit machine with 32 GBs of RAM. It takes quite some guts to release a piece of software in this condition, and it's inexplicable how a company as big as Adobe seemingly can't find good engineers to fix it. (And before you ask, this is not a problem with my system. I've tried using Acrobat Reader on a variety of machines, from laptops to high-end workstations, across several versions of Windows and Mac OS, and it's the same everywhere).

Then comes the cherry on top, the fact that Adobe doesn't manage to produce a reader that is compatible with the document format they developed and maintain in-house. Forms and layouts can get messed up, fonts are occasionally not rendered properly, and so on. I'll admit that quite possibly all other readers have that kind of problem, too, but I'd have expected a higher level of compatibility from what's supposed to be the "official" PDF reader. It's true that if you have a PDF that uses a lot of special and advanced features, your chances of opening it are highest with Acrobat Reader. Did you know, for example, that PDFs can be deployed as full-screen applications with scripting and 3D content? You might actually be able to write a pretty advanced computer game as a PDF file. I tend to disable those active content features in the program's settings for security reasons, especially considering Adobe's less-than-stellar reputation in that aspect. But if you need any of that functionality, there might not be a way around Acrobat Reader.

Let's assume for now that you were lucky and got your document to display properly on screen. Chances still are it won't print that way.

Adobe's PDF printing has turned into a running joke among students during my studies. We've had it all, from ROT-1 printing (each letter on a document was rotated by one, so if the document said "chapter 15", the resulting printout would read "dibqufs 26"), to mix-ups in the order of pages, intermittent blank pages, to corrupted images. Images are especially fun, because the results will range from completely messed up, to blocky and full of aliasing effects, to seemingly right but with terrible contrast or hue shifts. Again, all of this persists across platforms, printers, printer drivers etc. and are clearly Reader problems, not specific to a particular configuration.

There are many other, persistent bugs. Looking them up usually reveals this pattern: the issue has been reported numerous times over many years, people are discussing them in forums, sometimes they're even acknowledged by an official Adobe representative – but they're not being fixed. Some very severe bugs and major issues I've found had been reported for sometimes up to 10 years, yet they were still included in every new major version of Reader. One of my favourites was the one that made Reader freeze for about half a minute every time it was opened, in case the list of recently opened documents contained a file on a network location that was no longer accessible. I'm not actually sure if this has been fixed now after all, but it's been annoying me for the better part of five years. I sometimes wonder if anyone is even still working on fixing this thing.

To wrap up with something more positive: Reader is very customisable and offers many options. In an age where most software is being excessively dumbed down, as potentially slightly confusing a few less tech-savvy people is apparently worse now than no longer doing the job for the other 99,9%, Acrobat Reader DC feels refreshingly powerful. It allows you to set numerous preferences to your heart's content, allowing you to use it pretty much exactly the way that is most comfortable and productive for you. It feels like a true desktop application, developed for desktop users, who want to do actual work and use a real computer – none of that touchscreen-optimised toy thing for people who just muck about on YouTube and Instagram all day =) I feel like that deserves some respect, and is one of the reasons why, despite everything, Acrobat Reader still gets set up on all my systems.

[Edited by Anamon, February 18]

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It's bulky, slow and insecure. Worst of all, you can't create or edit PDF documents on it! Although it has a polished interface, it does not make up for it's terribleness. You have to constantly update this thing every month; download 40 MB and install 80 MB for a PDF reader, and repeat for the next month. Waste of time. I recommend Foxit Reader; it has a decent interface, and it has almost every feature you can get from Adobe Reader.

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This is probably the best free PDF reader there is.

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It is unstable sometimes, especially when running for long periods of times, or with multiple or long documents. I have had it crash on me multiple times. Also, it doesn't have a reader-only version. So, you have to download the non-free tools that you can't even use if you don't buy it.


It may have a nice interface but

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The thing is heavy for no reason, hell I just want to read my pdfs!


I actually read a comprehensive, benchmark on several of the popular readers and the official one (Adobe's) got the highest score on time to open file from double-clicking to it being displayed. So it may seem like it's heavy on resources (and maybe it is even when you're not reading PDFs), but it's optimizing in the background.

I'm not one for "heavy" apps that should be lightweight, since they're supposed to be doing a simple job, but no other reader is preferable in this case because the others just hack the job, while this:

  • is done by the creators of this document format standard;
  • it is compatible with all of the features of PDF (the others I had tried a couple of years ago did not have form support for one, which I never even knew what it was exactly until I happened to need it - the form didn't even show in the alternative software);
  • it does a heck of a job at rendering the document (with antialiasing and smooth scrolling and what not);
  • and it can even remember the last page you were at when you open the document next time.

For years, I had used Foxit Reader, PDF-XChange Viewer, STDU Viewer, Nitro Reader, and they all had limitations. Adobe Reader is also the only one that never failed to properly display a PDF. With the other it happened to me at least once that I would miss some details from the document. Another more recent PDF feature that is not emulated / copied by any of the alternatives is the scripting (Javascript?) implementation, which is something I doubt most people need though and it is also a security concern.

I don't get why these pieces of software have to be so bloated either. But see, it isn't just the big companies such as Microsoft with their Office suite, but also the open-source (such as OpenOffice / LibreOffice), so maybe it just is difficult to avoid with ambitious projects.

SumatraPDF is the sort of universal reader that will load blazingly-fast too and applications don't get any more lightweight than that (single executable, no installation).

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Adobe Reader is nothing but a huge pile of bloat. I changed to SumatraPDF a few years ago and was amazed. The application size is tiny, the memory footprint is good, and it loads pdf files many magnitudes faster than Adobe Reader ever has. Since I switched I've never found a reason to look back.


Slow and bloated.

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Slow and bloated. Somehow improved in latest releases but still not good

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Before I made the jump to Linux with their much better PDF viewers (Okular is my favorite now), I dealt with having to use this software for a good two years, preferring some non-browser solution to view the PDFs that I had to read for my classes. The interface was a tad too big for my tastes but manageable. However, if there's anything that tests my patience, it is an interface with an illusion of lots of available choices, but upon clicking on them redirecting you to a webpage where you are prompted to upgrade to access those features. Even though I never needed those features, the fact that those are there and take up lots of space on the UI pushed me to the edge of insanity.

In terms of performance, well... it works alright for a bit. PDF files open and save at a somewhat slow speed as well. The sour icing on the cake, though, is that I've run into a nasty bug when making a lot of highlights in a single PDF. I haven't a clue how or why it happens, but all I know is that after highlighting maybe 400 times, the application would start glitching, stop responding, and eventually take down Windows Explorer itself, forcing me to reboot. Gnarly, right?

There's also another bug, albeit a minor one, where the icon that it shows on Windows 10 in the taskbar would not be the one that represents a PDF file, but rather some random one. Usually it defaulted to the Paint.NET logo. Why it did that was beyond me, but the number of times I've clicked on it thinking it was Paint.NET surpasses the number of fingers on my hands tenfold. Maybe it's just a Windows 10 issue? I have no idea, but I've only ever had this issue with Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.

So, in essence, this application does the job of viewing PDFs...maybe a little slowly, maybe a little unsteadily, but it does it. That's why this thing doesn't get just one star from me. If you're really desperate for a non-browser PDF viewer, then Acrobat Reader DC can be good enough for you. Just remember that there are some better alternatives.

(P.S. I didn't learn this until recently, but Okular can be installed on Windows. It's a strange process, but its performance far outstrips Acrobat Reader DC.)

[Edited by TerrifiedTyphlosion, December 10]


Bloatware full of security holes etc.

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If you like bloatware that wastes your bandwidth and reports on you constantly, this is for you.
If you are security conscious, stay away.
I would suggest installing glasswire firewall control (free) and blocking EVERYTHING ADOBE in it.
You are better off without this on your machine.


A brief guide on how to transfer PDF files to Adobe Reader

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Adobe® Reader® is the free, trusted leader for reliably viewing and interacting with PDF documents across platforms and devices. Download the free Adobe Reader X mobile app to work with PDF files on your iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Easily access, manage, and share a wide variety of PDF file types, including PDF Portfolios, password-protected documents, fillable forms, and Adobe LiveCycle® rights-managed PDF files.

Lots of users wonder how to transfer PDF files to Adobe Reader, that’s quite simple with the help of i-FunBox. Following is a brief tutorial:
•Open i-FunBox

•Choose “Documents” under “Adobe Reader”

•Then copy or drag your PDF file to i-FunBox

•Now take a look at your iPhone/iPad, and open your Adobe Reader documents, then you’ll find your PDF file there

I intended to post some pictures here, but failed. I don't know how to do this ~~
If you guys have some more ideas on playing iPhone with ifunbox, please give me some advice.
Thank you so much!!