Foxit Reader review

The ultimate free PDF reader, creator and converter for Windows, Foxit Reader is flexible, secure and expandable

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Our Verdict

Much more than just a reader, Foxit's free software has all the tools you could want for creating and working with PDFs.

For

  • PDF creation and editing features
  • Built-in security tools
  • Microsoft Office plug-ins

Against

  • Cluttered interface
  • Some features are paid-only

Foxit Reader is a PDF reader - and much more. As well as providing a way to view PDF files, the program can also be used to create this type of file, sign PDFs, and add annotations.

There are also plugins for Microsoft Office programs (including Word, Excel and PowerPoint) that make for easy conversion of common file types, and open up the possibility of create PDFs from pretty much any file you can open.

Download Foxit Reader freeUltimately, Foxit Reader is a PDF viewer with a handful of tricks up its sleeve to entice you away from the competition.

Download Foxit Reader free
Foxit Reader's vast array of features can be intimidating at first, but you'll soon get used to picking out the most useful elements

User experience

If you've never created a PDF before, the prospect might be a little daunting, and Foxit Reader's interface can seem overwhelming. While the look is not too far removed from that of Microsoft Office - there is a very familiar ribbon toolbar in place, for instance - it somehow manages to look complex in a way that will be off-putting to some.

Thankfully, it's possible to minimize the ribbon to reduce screen clutter, freeing up the interface for the PDF you're viewing; something that's improved even further by the distraction-free full-screen mode. You can also minimize the entire program window to a system tray icon, which occupies less space than an entry in the Windows Taskbar.

When it comes to simply viewing PDFs, Foxit Reader is easy to get into. A second row of tabs makes it simple to work with multiple files at the same time, and another toolbar - vertical this time - allows for navigation of bookmarks, tables of contents and so on.

Foxit Reader navigation
Viewing options make it easy to strip out the options you don't need and focus on the content

We liked

One of our favourite Foxit Reader features is its security toolbox. Not everyone will be interested in the handy JavaScript security feature, which prevents unauthorized scripts transmitting data, but it's hugely useful when you've downloaded a PDF from the internet and aren't certain of its provenance.

The ability to create PDF files from scanned documents is also incredibly useful, although it's a shame that OCR support is not available in the free product.

The web browser-style plugins are a great way to extend Foxit Reader's capabilities further still, but the free edition has pretty much all of the bases covered already.

Create PDFs using Foxit Reader
Foxit doesn't just read PDFs - it can also create them, either from scratch or from existing files. The ability to turn a scanned document into a PDF is particularly useful

We disliked

Foxit Reader is very impressive. That said, many of the more exciting features rely on other products from Foxit Software that are not free. Features like ConnectedPDF, for instance, which is designed for teams to collaborate on the same PDF, is of most value to people with the paid-for PhantomPDF editor installed.

Coupled with the hectic interface, these limitations mean Foxit Reader isn't for everyone. If you have very basic viewing needs, it might be overkill.

Final verdict

Foxit Reader is possible the most feature-packed free PDF reader around. As well as being powerful, it benefits from being remarkably fast. Why pay for a premium program?

Specifications

Developer: Foxit Software

License: Freemium

System requirements:

  • Operating system: Windows 7, 8, 10
  • Processor: 1.3GHz
  • RAM: 512MB
  • Disk space: 1GB

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