Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review 


Another View of PDF Files
by Alan German

Ever since 2005, when Doug Poulter reviewed FoxReader (FoxReader vs. Adobe Reader), I have been using this utility program (now Foxit Reader). Well, that is until recently when Foxit, in its wisdom, decided that I also needed Foxit Cloud – whether I asked for it or not.

I always found the update procedure for Foxit to be somewhat cumbersome/confusing and so opted to simply install the latest version when I received notification of an available update. Recently, the installation process has resulted in Foxit Cloud also being installed. It really bugs me when software developers install stuff without asking, and – even worse – when they don’t give any inkling of what “benefit” the new addition offers. It would appear that Foxit Cloud is a cloud storage system. Since I have no use for such an application, my choice has been to uninstall the additional program. But, it always reappears with every new installation of Foxit Reader. Time to find a new PDF reader!

One possibility that gets good reviews is PDF-XChange Viewer which hails from Tracker Software Products (Canada) Ltd of Chemainus, BC. Wow! - a home-grown, freeware, PDF reader – we just have to give this one a whirl!

Downloading and installing the software is relatively straightforward. In my case, since I want PDF files to open in the external viewer rather than in a browser window, I unchecked the options for “Add-in for Internet Explorer” and “Add-in for Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Chrome”. The only other thing to check was the option for the “Free Version” rather than “Pro”.

As shown in the screenshot, PDF-XChange Viewer provides a wide range of controls using colourful icons and a regular File-Edit-View type menu. The graphic controls are really convenient. For example, there are icons to display an entire page of a document, the page by its width, or the page at full size, in the program’s window. There is also a slider control that provides fine control over the page size display.

Buttons at the bottom of the page allow scrolling forwards and backwards through the document, a page at a time, or jumping immediately to the first or last page. The functions of these controls are also duplicated through the use of the side-scroll bar and keyboard shortcuts such as PgUp/PgDn. There are also controls to display multiple pages of the current document, such as two pages side-by-side in the program window.

There are multiple find and search options. Find will search for a word or phrase in the current document. Buttons for find next and find previous are available to simplify searching through the document. Options allow finding the whole word or case-sensitive searches. An “Ask” button will search for the target word or phrase on the web. While, as the name suggests, the default is to use the Ask search engine, a drop-down arrow provides access to alternative search providers, including Google. And, if you opt to search using Google, this becomes the default for any future on-line search.

The program has a number of other features, including being able to double click on the blank program window area to allow browsing for a file in the last-used folder. Alternatively, one can drag a PDF file into this area to open it in the viewer. Multiple files are opened in individual tabs which makes reviewing a number of related documents really easy.

There are several other features built into the program such as sending a PDF file by E-mail in ZIP format and optical character recognition. For those with even more complex needs, there is also a Pro version available for purchase. However, for my purposes, the basic ability of the freeware viewer to open PDF files and just read them suits me fine.


Bottom Line:

PDFXchangeViewer (Freeware)
Version 2.5.313.1
Tracker Software Products (Canada) Ltd
http://www.tracker-software.com/product/pdf-xchange-viewer


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Ottawa Personal Computer Users' Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON  K2G 1S6

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