PDF, or Portable Document Format, is a file extension you see everywhere. It is very popular because not only can you be pretty sure that the recipient has some compatible reading application on their device, but the layout information and even the fonts used are embedded in the PDF itself, meaning the document will look great. will look exactly like it had been made, no matter what machine it is viewed on.
Just as it was designed for Adobe Acrobat, the very first PDF reader launched in 1993. We’ve come a long way, with Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (no relation to Batman or Superman; DC stands for Document Cloud) now the company’s primary way of reading PDF documents.
It’s free to download, so let’s see what you can do with it.
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC vs Adobe Acrobat DC: What’s the difference?
First of all, it is important to understand the difference between Adobe Acrobat Reader DC and Adobe Acrobat DC. The last one is an all-singing, all-dancing PDF editorthat allows you to view, print, sign, annotate, search, create, edit, combine and protect PDFs.
Reader is much more limited, but since most regular computer users don’t need to create PDFs or make existing changes, PDF reader to view, print, sign, annotate and search them might be the perfect solution for them.
The ‘DC’ attachment is Adobe’s attempt to bring PDF management into the 21st century. Document Cloud integrates a number of Adobe PDF and e-signature tools, enabling cloud storage and online collaborationand digital tools to streamline workflows.
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC: Getting Started
Once you’ve launched Acrobat Reader, you’ll be graced with a very sparse interface, with a sidebar on the left, some recommended tools at the top, and a list of recent PDFs you’ve opened.
At the top left is a tab bar, although it doesn’t quite look like a tab bar. It is currently set to ‘Home’. Click on ‘Tools’ to see all the features you can use… but there’s a catch: even if it looks like you can use the one with a little blue star next to it, and you can go that far as selecting files, once you activate the feature, you will be sent to pay and download Reader’s bigger brother, Acrobat DC.
Coming from one of the biggest app makers on the market, this is a bit unfair. We were not impressed.
If you look at the sidebar, you will see that most menus require you to log in to your Adobe Creative Cloud account. However, you don’t need an account to perform basic functions like view your recently opened documents, star them, essentially place them at the top of the list (or view them in the “Starred” section), and access to all the files on your hard drive.
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC: Reading Experience
Once you have opened a PDF in Acrobat Reader, it will appear as a new tab at the top of the interface. This means you can open multiple files at once. Creating a whole new window with other tabs is also possible, although you will generate a copy of the Home and Tools tabs for that window as well.
Use the Down and Up arrow keys to move to the next or previous page (if your PDF contains more than one). If the script is too small for you, you can use the magnifying tool, combined with the hand tool, to move around the magnified page with ease. You will also find a dial if the document orientation is not right.
One of the buttons in the narrow sidebar on the left is an option to display page thumbnails (which you can resize). This is a great way to scroll through a document to look for a specific page – instead of going through it page by page. But there is also a faster method.
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC: Search
If your PDF is formatted correctly, you can use the magnifying glass icon located at the top left of the interface. This is a very useful search function, which allows you to quickly find specific sections without having to scroll through page after page.
Don’t confuse that feature with the search field at the top of the right sidebar. This will allow you to find specific features within this app, or any other (probably paid) app.
Speaking of the right sidebar, it’s mostly an ad for premium features and even includes a big blue “Try Now” button and a “Free 7-Day Trial” at the bottom.
To be fair, this is borderline adware. We don’t tolerate it when small developers do it, so why accept it from one of the giants?
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC: Memos, Notes, and Highlighters
Another very useful feature is the ability to highlight parts of text (just like you would use a yellow highlighter on a physical document), or add notes to specific parts of the page.
This is done with a number of tools located to the right of the top toolbar. Just select either one and do what you need to do. It’s a great way to keep track of a document you’re analyzing.
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC: Sign documents
You will find some editable PDFs, such as those that require you to fill in some information in specific fields, or more simply, those that require a signature from you. Gone are the days when you had to print, sign, scan and mail the document. These are the days of eSign software.
To achieve this in Reader DC, click on the ‘Signature’ tool and apply a saved signature where you need it on the page. If you haven’t saved one yet, it’s really easy to create one (or just type in your initials). You even have the option to change the size and even change the color of the ink if you want.
You also have the option to share your document with others, including any notes you took along the way, but this requires uploading it to Adobe’s Cloud (that’s where the DC name comes in), and that means you’ll need an account have with them. The good news is that you can register for free and it seems you can use this feature without paying for anything.
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC: Final Verdict
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is one of the best free PDF readers for anyone who wants to view and manipulate documents in some way – for example, taking notes, filling out forms, or signing a document.
But it’s marred by regular requests to upgrade to the more powerful, premium Adobe Acrobat DC. If it weren’t for all these ads, it would get a much higher score. Still, the app is multi-platform and robust enough. It’s worth adding it to your software list, unless of course you find adware annoying.