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PDF-XChange Viewer ($FREE version) - Mini-Review

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Originally posted:2012-10-04Last updated2013-06-20
Basic Info
App NamePDF-XChange ViewerThumbs-Up Rating:Thmbsup:   :Thmbsup:   :Thmbsup:   :Thmbsup:    :Thmbsup:App URL Version Reviewed$FREE Version v2.5.211 (17 Jun 2013)Test System SpecsMS Win 7-64 Home PremiumSupported OSesCompatible with Win 64-bit/32-bit.Support MethodsDownload and Support via the above link.
Help file: PDF-XChange Viewer Help File (English)Upgrade PolicyThere is a paid PRO version upgrade.Trial Version Available?$FREE - as reviewed in this review.Pricing SchemePRO version US$37.50 (also has free trial period).
There are extended maintenance/upgrade periods costing approx. $6 for 2 years, and $10 for 3 years.
Intro and Overview:
PDF-XChange Viewer generally seems to get good mention in DCF discussions, over the last few years.
After I had made a post about Nuance PDF Reader being Annoyware/Adware (carries a forced/unwanted payload), there were two rather interesting comments - one from @cyberdiva and one from @Tinman:
Several years ago, I switched to the free version of PDF-XChange Viewer, which had been highly recommended to me.  I've been very happy with it ever since.  I see that Gizmo's Best Freeware site lists PDF-XChange Viewer as its top pick:
-cyberdiva (September 30, 2012, 08:28 AM)
--- End quote ---
I've been using PDFXchangeViewer for years now.  It has an excellent GUI, lots of options, bells & whistles.  I used to use Foxit before I discovered PDFXchange...
-Tinman57 (October 01, 2012, 08:25 PM)
--- End quote ---

As a result of those comments and checking out the TechSupport review - Best Free Non-Adobe PDF Reader - which reviewed an earlier version (v2.5.205.0) - I decided to install/trial the FREE PDF-XChange Viewer.
I primarily wanted to use it as a reader to replace Adobe Reader (for various reasons), and it seems to be a good replacement, with a few features that I found make it preferable to Adobe Reader.
The Included FREE features (modified from source - here) are:

* OCR options included (English, French, German, Spanish) -  OCR your image based/scanned PDF's to make them fully text searchable PDF files !!!!
* Add Comments and Annotations to any PDF file (subject to security settings) - unlike the Adobe Viewer which requires the PDF creation tool to be 'certified' by Adobe !
* Add & apply Custom Stamps from any Image or PDF File and even your Windows Clip board !
* Measurement Tools incl. perimeter and area
* Mark-up pages with text and objects
* Type directly on any PDF page, not just Adobe enabled forms documents - in Typewriter mode.
* Export PDF pages or entire files to any one of the supported Image formats including BMP, JPEG, TIFF, PNG and many more ...
* Extract text from a PDF page/File
* Make your navigation of large or complex PDF files both simple and enjoyable with the extended functionality of our 'Loupe' and the 'Pan' Window tools
* PDF Security Support including 40/128 bit RC4 and 128/256 bit AES Encryption Password and Permissions Add/Edit
* Data Execution Prevention (DEP) - stops the execution of nefarious scripts from Virus's/trojans etc.
* Fill and Save Adobe Forms to disk, email or 'post' - including XFA and dynamic forms (new in V2.5) !
* Full Javascript Engine included
* Store/Restore of last opened files (last session)
* Updated JPEG2000 Compression support - improving speed.
* Plug-Ins for both MS IE or Firefox Browser's included
* Integrate seamlessly with your favorite translation software to translate text on the 'fly' - including :  ABBYY Lingvo 12, Translate It!, Lingoes.
* Auto-Highlights Fillable Form Fields
* Integrated Shell Extensions for PDF thumbnails and document preview in Windows Explorer
* Document Search. Probably the fastest PDF document search engine available today !
* Set default viewing preferences for PDF files
Who this software is designed for:
The software seems to be aimed primarily at the Adobe Reader alternative market, so it has a fair amount of competition.
For example, I had tried Nuance PDF Reader and Foxit, but found them both wanting, so had expunged them from my laptop system before installing PDF-XChange Viewer.
In my case, I have expunged the seemingly invasive Adobe Acrobat from my system, and PDF-XChange Viewer has become the default PDF reader.

The Good:

* Reading: I primarily wanted PDF-XChange Viewer for reading PDF document files. It does an excellent job of that.
* Tabbed: Its tabbed reader is a delight to have/use - see 1st. image below. (I don't know why Adobe doesn't do that.)
* View: It has a good, uncluttered bordered fullscreen (F11) view, similar to Adobe Reader - see 2nd. image below.
* Resolution:It seems to have clearer font resolution than Adobe Reader - see side-by-side comparison in 2nd. image below. To make the Font size comparable, Adobe was set at 185% zoom and PDF-XChange Viewer was set at 200% zoom. ClearType was ON and had been tuned. This is just a one-off comparison. Maybe the same comparison but using different documents might produce different results.
* OCR: It does a very good job (high accuracy) of OCRing PDF documents that are not text-copyable/searchable, thus making them text-copyable/searchable. OCR languages are English, French, German, Spanish.

PDF-XChange Viewer ($FREE version) - Mini-Review

The needs improvement section:
For my main purpose (i.e., reading PDF document files) I have not otherwise seen any area needing improvement.
For versions v2.5.205.0 and v2.5.211I, the File-->Open command is constrained in that it only seems to allow you to open one file at a time, despite the reader having a tabbed interface for multiple document loading. I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't an oversight that will be fixed at some stage during a subsequent upgrade.
Just be wary. The install for PDF-XChange Viewer v2.5.205.0 included the AskStub Application, but v2.5.211 (2013-06-17) did not have this.
(I detest the Ask Toolbar. It behaves rather like a Trojan/virus once you get the thing installed on your PC.)

Why I think you should use this product:
If you need a good reader for reading PDF document files, then this one is an excellent choice.
The relatively rich and potentially useful feature set is an added bonus.
The functionality of PDF-XChange Viewer makes it a good default PDF reader replacement for the system.

How it compares to similar products:
Though I do not have a lot of experience to compare it with different PDF readers, the published review Best Free Non-Adobe PDF Reader rated an earlier version (v2.5.205.0) as the favourite out of:

* PDF-XChange Viewer
* Foxit Reader (NB: Install apparently carries a forced/unwanted payload, similar to Nuance PDF Reader)
* Cool PDF reader
* Perfect PDF Reader
* Sumatra PDF Viewer. (I still have this.)
A very nice PDF reader with some useful additional features.
Great OCR functionality.

Links to other info sources/reviews of this application (earlier versions):
See the Best Free Non-Adobe PDF Reader review.

Thanks for the review :)

A few comments as a fellow user...

I follow the instructions here for portable installation -- IIRC, this may bypass the AskStub app running (haven't checked recently).

My favorite feature is the bookmarking support.  Between this app and JPdfBookmarks (useful for import/export of bookmarks), my PDF bookmark needs appear to be met for the most part.

+1 for PDF XChange. Although I like the non-bloat of Sumatra PDF (and dislike the bright yellow default screen which makes me blind for a second every time I start it), PDF XChange is the only PDF viewer I have tried which allows me to perform basic editing tasks without bloat.

I paid for the software and am very happy with it.

One slight annoyance is that ctrl-scrollwheel does not zoom!  I get used to this in many other apps and am constantly surprised when this one does not.

But, like I said, I like the program and have no major problems with it.

Wow, it has OCR.
Can even be added to the portable version:
   Visit the Download site
    Check “Portable Version (OCR Lang Files) | 8 MB”
    Click Download Now
    Extract the folder inside “ocrdats” into the application directory

This program is dramatically better than OCR available from Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional. Really lucky the X-Change team put this in the free version: this is a big win for freeware.

Note: some documents will not accept OCR conversion with the default "Preserve Original Content & Add Text Layer". Still, this option is much faster, so it is recommended trying this first and then "Convert Image Content to Image Only -- Add Text as a Layer" option.
--- End quote ---
quote from 'webfork' in the portable freeware forums:

One slight annoyance is that ctrl-scrollwheel does not zoom!-kfitting (October 04, 2012, 05:27 AM)
--- End quote ---

I'm currently using 2.5 build 197 (portable/free version - not the most recent) - it works in that :-\ (Wn7 64bit)
Might be worth reporting it.


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