Adobe’s software is free and is a reliable solution if you want to view, print, search through, digitally sign or comment on a PDF.
On a basic level, it’s a solid and dependable PDF reader. It should be. Adobe is the company responsible for developing the Portable Document Format (PDF), which it originally released back in 1993.
Because it opens PDFs reliably, it also prints them reliably, and the text of any PDF is fully searchable when you use Adobe Reader.
While you can’t edit PDFs with the Adobe Reader software, some PDFs can be digitally signed or contain forms that can be filled in onscreen and then saved. The software does, however, enable you to comment on any PDF and fill it with an array of sticky notes, text highlights, strikethroughs and other annotations. It’s perfect for collaborative working.
The newest version of Adobe Reader supports Windows 8 and, more importantly, it makes great strides to improve the security of PDF documents.
The safe mode has been extended to include features to prevent data theft - a notable addition is the sandbox, a Protected Mode that opens up all PDFs in a virtual environment by default. This means that you don't have to worry about damaging your computer’s system or compromising your data if you open an infected document.
The one thing this software doesn’t enable you to do is create PDFs - this is a PDF Reader first and foremost. It shouldn’t be confused with the paid-for Adobe Acrobat 11 software or the companion Adobe PDF Pack service, which charges a monthly subscription for PDF creation, combining several documents into one PDF, or exporting PDFs into other file types (including Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations).
Usefully, the web app Adobe SendNow is also integrated into Adobe Reader. You can use SendNow to send files up to 100MB in size (with the basic version) and even convert and send Office documents into PDFs with a single click. It’s a real time-saver.
Note: You can download Adobe Reader directly from the Adobe site, which suggests you also download McAfee Security Scan Plus. Our advice? Just untick that particular box.
Verdict: Adobe Reader is probably the most widely used PDF reader on the market and Adobe Reader 11 is one of those software tools that you can’t work without. This version’s handy sandbox function improves security and helps to guard your PC against malware.