Foxit PDF Reader is a no-frills PDF reader application that is light-weight and extremely quick loading, perfect for desktops, laptops or even netbooks.


Supported platforms:

  • Windows
  • Embedded Linux, Desktop Linux
  • Various Smartphone platforms: Windows Mobile, UIQ 3.x
  • U3 smart drive support

Additional vendor information

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Who’s it for?

Foxit PDF Reader offers a viable alternative for businesses requiring a PDF viewer, but who are dissatisfied with the performance of Adobe’s PDF Reader. In addition, companies might be uncomfortable with the large number of security vulnerabilities discovered in Adobe’s viewer to date, as well as the need to constantly patch it with the latest updates.

What problem does it solve?

Time is money in business, and Foxit PDF Reader allows executives and management to quickly peruse PDF documents without having to waste time waiting for it to load. Unlike heavy-weight incumbents such as Adobe PDF Reader, Foxit PDF Reader excels with slower laptops or netbooks.

Standout features

  • Lightweight and fast: Its lean features allow Foxit PDF Reader to have a small footprint and fast loading times, even on slower workstations or netbooks.
  • PDF Form support: Supports basic PDF operations for filling out and printing of PDF forms
  • U3 smart drive support: Support for the U3 smart drive means that Foxit Reader can be installed on a flash drive for portability.
  • Free: Crucial features such as viewing documents and PDF Form support is free, while advanced add-ons such as the ability to make changes in the PDF are available at a reasonable cost.

What’s wrong?

I have been using Foxit PDF Reader for a number of years now, and have not encountered any significant issues with it. On Windows Vista though, I have found that it is necessary to manually run Foxit PDF Reader as an Administrator in order to perform an automatic update. This is an aspect that is not obvious or properly documented.

The many versions of PDF software on the Web site of Foxit Software can be confusing initially. You can check out this Feature Comparison Sheet for a good overview; the one covered in this review is “Foxit Reader.”

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

Personally, Foxit PDF Reader is my default PDF viewer of choice across my various workstations. While it is true that Adobe’s PDF Reader has made great strides in speeding up its loading time, Foxit PDF Reader loads in no time at all, even on a slow laptop with a 1GHz CULV processor. In addition, the availability of PDF Forms support means that it is also suitable for companies that make use of this feature as part of their business process.

User rating:

Have you encountered or used Foxit PDF Reader? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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Figure A – Snaps open

Foxit PDF Reader snaps open immediately without the need for any delaying techniques such as a splash screen.

Figure B – No errors

I have not encountered any problems with PDF files over the last few years; PDF files render well and without errors.

Figure C – Supports PDF forms

Here, I open an actual PDF file that I grabbed from the Internet to demonstrate its support for the PDF Forms feature.

Figure D – Form fields

You can see the form fields highlighted in yellow.

Figure E – Saving

The free Foxit PDF Reader also supports saving of PDF files with PDF Forms, allowing it to be used in organizations that requires this feature.

Figure F – Bookmarks

This image shows the view of a technical manual in PDF form. Here, you can see that bookmarks are supported on the left column. The program is similarly fast when scrolling through large files.

Figure G – Configuration

A quick look at the configuration options for the PDF viewer. Despite its light weight and small size, a sizeable number of settings can be tweaked to your preference.

Figure H Typewriter tool

Changes can be made to the PDF document via the Typewriter tool. However, note that this feature, while shown in the screenshot, is only available in the paid version of Foxit PDF Reader.

Figure I – Updates

It is easy to update Foxit PDF Reader from the Help menu. Be aware though, that attempting to update when the program is not running under Administrator rights (An account tagged as Administrator doesn’t count) will fail.

Figure J – Interface changes

A final look at how configurable the software is. Even the Foxit advertisement can be turned off, as with the MenuBar, StatusBar and various toolbars.