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Apps to Read PDFs on Mobile and Desktop

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Reading PDFs on mobile devices can often be a pain point for many users. The small screens and varying compatibility across different devices can turn...

Reading PDFs on mobile devices can often be a pain point for many users. The small screens and varying compatibility across different devices can turn the simple task of opening a PDF into a cumbersome ordeal. However, with the right PDF reader apps, you can transform your reading experience from frustrating to fabulous, whether you're on an Android, iPhone, or even desktop.

The Challenges of Reading PDFs on Mobile

Before diving into the solutions, let's acknowledge the struggle. Mobile devices, despite their convenience, often aren't optimized for PDF reading. The issues range from text being too small, lack of proper formatting support, difficulty in navigation, and poor responsiveness of touch interfaces when you try to zoom or scroll through pdf documents.

Moreover, while many PDFs are interactive or have embedded links and forms, not all mobile readers handle these features well.

Pinch, zoom in, pinch, zoom out, scroll, anyone?

PDF Reader vs PDF Viewer

The main difference between a PDF reader and a PDF viewer lies in their functionality. A PDF viewer primarily allows you to open and view PDF files, offering basic functions like zooming and page navigation.

On the other hand, a PDF reader includes more advanced features such as the ability to annotate PDFs, fill out forms, sign documents, and sometimes even edit the text and images within PDF documents. Essentially, while both can display PDF files, PDF readers offer more interactive and comprehensive tools for managing and manipulating PDF content.

Best Apps to Read PDFs Across Devices

Fortunately, there are a plethora of PDF viewers and even free PDF readers designed to mitigate these problems, enhancing functionality and customization to suit your reading habits.

Here's a rundown of the best pdf reader apps for Android, iOS, and desktop platforms. You can find these apps on the App Store, Google Play, Amazon, or even on their websites. Most, if not all should have options for Android devices, iPhone, iPad, or even as a mobile app for the browser of your choice.

Speechify PDF Reader - The New Kid

Available on: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac

Speechify PDF reader might be the newest player in the market but has already proven to be a leader in this space. Packed with all the features of the other apps, Speechify has the added benefit of bringing industry-leading text to speech tech to its PDF reader.

Speechify’s PDF reader is a complete reading app. It is not limited to just PDFs. Take the same features to any website, or your favorite file manager and create rich audio from any text.

Adobe Acrobat Reader - The OG

Available on: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac

Adobe Acrobat Reader is often considered the best pdf reader due to its comprehensive feature set. It allows you to open pdf files, annotate pdfs, and even edit pdf documents with a user-friendly interface. Its cloud storage integration with services like Dropbox and Google Drive makes it easy to access your docs anywhere.

Foxit PDF Reader - Feature-Rich and Robust

Available on: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac

Foxit is known for its powerful functionality that extends beyond simple PDF viewing. It includes advanced features like OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to convert scanned documents into editable and searchable pdf files. It also supports multiple file formats including epub, which makes it a versatile ebook reader as well.

Xodo PDF Reader & Editor - Best for Annotation

Available on: Android, iOS, Windows

Xodo is a high-performing all-in-one PDF reader and PDF editor. Without any ads, it offers a smooth reading experience and excellent annotation tools. You can highlight text, underline, and even translate text. Its real-time PDF collaboration feature lets you share pdfs and collaborate with others easily.

Microsoft Edge - More Than a Browser

Available on: Android, iOS, Windows

Microsoft Edge might seem an unlikely candidate, but it has built-in PDF reading capabilities. You can read pdf, epub files, and even pdf books directly through the browser. The integration with Microsoft services and its ability to handle formats smoothly makes it an excellent choice for those who rely heavily on Microsoft products like Excel and Word.

GoodReader - Top Choice for iOS Users

Available on: iOS

GoodReader is praised for its rich functionality on iPhone and iPad. It allows users to annotate PDFs, manage files, and read books with ease. Its robust toolset includes text-to-speech, audiobooks support, and even the ability to handle large PDF files, making it an ideal app for extensive reading sessions.

Google Drive - Seamless Integration and Accessibility

Available on: Android, iOS, Web

While primarily known as a cloud storage service, Google Drive also includes built-in capabilities to open and view PDF documents. Its integration with Google Docs and the ability to share files make it incredibly convenient for users who collaborate often. The free version offers ample functionality, with more features available through Google Workspace.

PDF Expert - Professional PDF Tool for Mac Users

Available on: iOS, Mac

PDF Expert stands out on Apple devices, especially for users who seek a professional level of PDF editing and annotation. The interface is sleek and intuitive, offering powerful tools for modification without compromising on performance or quality.

Foxit MobilePDF - Lightweight yet Powerful

Available on: Android, iOS

Designed specifically for mobile devices, Foxit MobilePDF offers a user-friendly interface that’s optimized for mobile screens. It supports extensive PDF editing and annotation features, cloud storage options, and compatibility with file formats beyond PDF, like Microsoft Office files.

MuPDF - Minimalist and Fast

Available on: Android, iOS, Windows

For those who prefer a lightweight app, MuPDF offers a minimalist approach to PDF viewing and editing. It supports all the standard PDF features, including form filling and multiple file formats, all while being exceptionally fast and lightweight.

Kobo Books - Best for eBook Lovers

Available on: Android, iOS

Kobo Books is primarily an ebook reader but supports reading PDF files as well. It’s perfect for those who also enjoy reading ePub formats and purchasing books directly from the platform. The app provides a comfortable reading mode, making it easy to switch between different types of digital books.

Enhancing Your Reading Experience

These apps not only allow you to read PDFs efficiently but also enhance your reading experience through features like bookmarks, reading modes, and customization of fonts and themes. Whether you're looking to read academic papers, office documents, or just ebooks, these PDF reader apps ensure that you have the tools you need to read effectively across all your devices.

Remember, while many apps offer a free version, investing in their paid versions can unlock even more advanced features and provide a more comprehensive reading and editing experience. Whether on mobile, tablet, or desktop, these apps cater to all your PDF needs, proving that the right tool can make all the difference.

FAQ: Your PDF Reader App Questions Answered

The best pdf reader app often depends on your specific needs; however, Speechify PDF Reader & Adobe Acrobat Reader is highly recommended for its extensive features that allow you to read, annotate, and edit PDF documents across Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac.

Yes, apps like Speechify PDF Reader, Xodo and GoodReader support text-to-speech functionality, enabling them to read out PDF files aloud, enhancing accessibility for users on mobile devices.

You can read PDF files for free using Speechify PDF Reader, Adobe Acrobat Reader or Google Drive, both of which offer free versions that provide robust PDF reading and basic annotation tools on multiple platforms, including Android and iOS.

Yes, many PDF reader apps offer a free version with essential functionalities, such as Foxit PDF, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Google Drive, which allow users to open and view PDF files without any cost.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.