The tenth version of the ubiquitous free PDF-viewer arrives
Adobe claims 90% of internet-connected desktops have its PDF-viewing Reader software installed, and the company is also pushing hard into handheld territory with the announcement of a Reader for Android.
The main desktop change in Reader X is the completely reworked interface. Menus and toolbars have been streamlined, with program functions now primarily in expandable task panes running down the right. Adobe has also enabled end-users to add commonly used tools to the main toolbar.
There’s also a new focus on Acrobat’s Reading mode, which now hides the menu bar as well as all tabs and toolbars so that all you see onscreen is the document. Significantly, this is now the default mode for all web-hosted PDFs viewed in the browser. Mouse down to the bottom of the document and a toolbar appears with options for saving, printing, navigating, changing zoom and returning to the full Reader.
Reading mode is a major advance as it makes switching between HTML and rich PDF almost seamless within the browser. Adobe has tried to make the integration even tighter by supporting host shortcuts so that, for example, Ctrl-P brings up either the browser’s or Reader’s print dialog depending on the current content. Reader X also introduces new sandbox-based handling to boost security.
Functions are accessed from its two new task panes. Select the Comments panel and you can mark up your PDFs with text highlights and sticky notes, and view and search all annotations in the Comments List. If the PDF was created by an Acrobat X Pro user they can now enable full commenting functionality within Reader X.
Select the second Share panel and, as well as the ability to email your current PDF, you have access to two free online services. Adobe SendNow lets you automatically upload your current file (up to 100MB) to Adobe’s servers, and emails the necessary download links to your intended recipients. Adobe CreatePDF lets you automatically convert files to PDF directly from Reader.
CreatePDF is suitable only for occasional use, and if creating and using PDFs is going to become a regular part of your working life you’d be better off upgrading to a paid-for Acrobat solution. However, for the average user the free Reader provides all you need, and this latest X release is significantly better at its main job: displaying PDF content for onscreen reading.