Free, Fast, and Secure Adobe Reader Alternative – Google Chrome

A good alternative to Adobe Reader for reading PDF documents is the PDF viewer in the Google Chrome browser – which is not a well-documented feature. Though the PDF viewer has limited functionality in comparison to the full-blown Adobe Reader, it is more efficient than the original Adobe Reader. You can view, scroll, and search PDF documents more quickly than with Adobe. Also, the limited functionality actually makes the PDF viewer safer than Adobe Reader. According to Norton Symantec, the “fifth most exploited vulnerability in computers is the Adobe Acrobat, Reader, and Flash Player”. Kaspersky adds that Adobe products (and their vulnerability) made up 15% of all software in 2012, followed by Apple iTunes/QuickTime and Oracle Java. This means Google Chrome, if used as an Adobe Reader alternative, can solve a lot of your computer issues.

What makes Adobe Reader a perfect target for viruses and hacking is its PDF-editing capabilities, such as annotations, sticky notes, comments, signing PDF documents, etc., though most people, especially home users, never use the advanced features. Note that you do need to purchase Adobe Acrobat to edit actual text in PDF documents. Adobe has a variety of paid products, but most popular are the free Adobe Flash and Reader. Bloated functionality and the related vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader give Adobe a bad reputation.

Some Adobe Reader issues:

– Adobe Reader cannot zoom properly on PDF documents. This feature is very nicely realised in Google Chrome’s PDF viewer.
– Adobe Update pops up at the bottom right corner of the screen, requesting the user to click on it. Often, people ignore pop-ups, which provides an opportunity for hackers to exploit the Adobe vulnerabilities. Chrome, in contrast to Adobe Reader, updates automatically in the background, so the user does not have to click on anything.

How to set up Google Chrome as an Adobe Reader Alternative

Chrome PDF viewer does not open PDF documents on your computer by default. Chrome opens PDF documents only on the internet webpages and when Adobe Reader isn’t installed. To make Google Chrome the default viewer of PDF documents, you need to do the following (in Windows 7 and Windows 8): Uninstall Adobe Reader from the Control Panel -> Programs and Features. After it is uninstalled, then click on a PDF document. When prompted about which program you want PDF documents to open with, point to C:Program Files (x86)GoogleChromeApplicationchrome.exe
In case you do not like Google Chrome as an alternative PDF reader, you can always download and install Adobe Reader from the Adobe website.


  1. Firefox can open PDF documents too, yet, with less functionality then Chrome.

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