PDF-XChange Viewer


PDF-XChange Viewer is a free PDF viewer and editor that offers a number of useful functions including form filling, typewriter mode (for forms that were not designed for filling), the ability to add annotations and draw shapes into your PDF, as well as the ability to leave comments and embed sticky notes into the PDF document.

Alternatives to Adobe’s free PDF reader were traditionally borne out of a need to have a lean, fast-loading PDF viewing app; PDF-XChange certainly delivers on this, but it also manages to pack a large number of useful functions. Here are some notes on this program:

As a viewer: in addition to the usual viewing tools (e.g. zooming, searching text, highlighting form feeds), PDF-XChange offers Firefox style tabbed browsing, viewing all open docs as thumbnails, and bookmarking pages. The ’pan and zoom’ tool proved to be a surprisingly practical (and pleasant) navigation aide. The side pane on the left hand margin can optionally display thumbnails of individual pages of the document (it can also display bookmarked pages). Compatible with PDF documents versions 1.0 and higher.

As an editor: this is where most of the interesting features are, as follows:

  • Manipulate pages: rotate your document clockwise or counterclockwise with the press of a button (a handy way to transform your document from portrait to landscape or vice versa if you wanted to). You can also delete pages and, although I wasn’t able to do it, there is an option for cropping pages (to be implemented in a future version, perhaps?).
  • Form filling: fill forms easily with the form filling tool (provided the pdf document is designed form). Works really well but provides no formatting options beyond basic text (i.e. you cannot choose bold or underlined or different sized fonts).
  • Typewriter tool: gives you the ability to quickly and easily overlay text on any part of the document. Especially handy when filling out a form that is not actually a PDF form. (This function alone makes this program a cut above the rest in my opinion).
  • Add comments: PDF-XChange allows you to leave a comment anywhere on the document. This will typically look like a colored icon with a sticky note attached to it or hovering nearby; otherwise you can highlight a bunch of text and link it to a balloon hovering close to it (see screenshot). I made comments on a test document and found that although the actual comment will NOT be visible on the page once you print it, I was surprised that the icon denoting the location of the comment in fact did print. You can also underline or strike out text anywhere on the document (and yes this will be printed).
  • Add objects: including text boxes (with extensive text formatting options), callout boxes, and various shapes such as lines/arrows, rectangles, etc. and even free-form drawing. All objects are editable in terms of border, thickness, color, fill color, etc.
  • Stamps: useful for, say, adding your signature in electronic format and ’stamping’ it in the correct location as needed. This option did not work, unfortunately; I’m guessing this function relegated for future versions.
  • Export to images: straight into a number of formats including BMP, JPEG, TIFF, and PNG.
  • Snapshot tool: allows you to capture any part of the pdf that is displayed on screen into the clipboard as an image in order to paste into another application.

My wish list: there are a number of things that would make this program significantly better

  • The ability to ’flatten’ objects and typewriter text that is added to a pdf such that it is preserved when the document is opened in other readers such as Adobe or Foxit. Currently, only the form-filled text and the comments created with PDF-XChange Viewer are preserved when opening the same document with Adobe Reader or Foxit. Ironically I’ve been using the Primo pdf printer to do this before publishing my PDF’s.
  • Better Undo: I mistakenly underlined all text in a page using the ’underline text tool’ and found that I could not undo. In fact, I could not for the life of me figure out how to remove the underlining, and opted to close and re-load instead.
  • Another icon please: for all of its presumed slickness, this program features a gaudy and unattractive PDF icon to. Here’s hoping they will change it.

The verdict: Contains a plethora of useful editing features compared to Foxit (which only does form filling). PDF-XChange Viewer still feels like it needs kinks ironed out but it easily my favorite PDF reader; I highly recommend it.

Version tested: 1.0 build 0017

Compatibility: WinAll.

Go to the download page to get the latest version (approx 13 megs). Also visit the program home page.

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Has been reviewing software since 2006 when he started Freewaregenius.com
  • Joe

    You should mention that if you don’t mind the unobtrusive watermark on modified documents, Foxit Reader actually DOES have many (if not all) of these features.

  • JP

    Oops… can’t input Japanese text with IME or “C-c C-v”.

  • Joe

    Oops, perhaps I should have tried this out before commenting above. I was mostly responding to the claim that Foxit Reader only does form filling.

    Foxit Reader is *slightly* faster, portable on a USB drive, and has many of the same markup functions (inserting an “Edited with Foxit Reader” watermark at the top of the page – “unbtrusive” is probably a stretch), and even has a plain text viewing mode.

    However, I just made PDF-Xchange Viewer the default on my laptop. The tabbed interface is great for me, since I tend to keep several documents open at once and those Foxit instances can eat up the task bar pretty quickly. The editing features

    If you have any documents that you’ve edited with Foxit Reader, they may not be compatible with PDF-Xchange Viewer. While I was able to use the viewer to place a plain white rectangle over the Foxit Reader watermark, I have one pdf in which I apparently highlighted text and then erased the markup in Foxit Reader. In PDF-Xchange viewer, the markup shows up and is 100% opaque to boot, obscuring the text rather than highlighting it.

  • Lamefif

    ^well said, apart from the grammar ups

  • Pleased to say the issues relating to text typed and commenting compatibility with other readers are resolved in Build 1.018 released on June 12th, 2007 – also new features and functions added and extended.

    Or you can check out the beta now – please download from this link and unzip/copy the files into your install folder where the Viewer currently exists – usually here:

    C:\Program Files\Tracker Software\PDF-XChange 3 Pro\PDF-XChange PDF Viewer\pdf-viewer

    download :

  • With regards Foxit’s Typewriter – should also be noted :

    This can be edited ONLY by FoxIt – they establish their own fields within the comment dictionary, and these fields are recognized only by Foxit – so cannot edited by other Reader’s/Viewers.

  • compguy

    Build 1.0030 seems to iron out all of the above comments/criticisms – highly reccomended with no reservations !

  • sd

    how do you get pdf-xchange viewer to open up pdf in tabs in firefox? whenever I click on a pdf document, it will create a new instance on the task bar instead of a tabbed instance in firefox 🙁 I switched from foxit to pdf-xchange in hopes of tabbed pdfs

  • Alan

    A visit to the website, indicates that it’s no longer free.

  • Tyler

    As Alan said above, yet another good program has gone the way from free and useful to paid and useless as of v2.0. The “free” functionality in v2.0 is worthless, and the almost $40 price tag is outrageous! My hunt for a freeware PDF editor begins anew…

  • Chris

    @Tyler, The “free” functionality in 2.0 is exactly the same as 1.x. The PRO features are all NEW features, Only items in the Document menu require pro. Even so, the $40 price tag does not strike me as outrageous, considering the alternative for many ends up being Acrobat (this is what they wanted to buy at my place of employment till I showed them PDF Xchange.

  • compguy

    There is still a free version as well as a PRO version with extended features.

    The price tag is in fact $14.95 – not $40 – it will be $40 once all the promised features are included – early buyers get them when they arrive without any upgrade fees.

    As Chris says – all the free functions are still there – and new Free functions will continue to be added in tandem with those only be made avaiable in the paid for PRO version as it says on the product info page.

  • Neil Parks

    Of all the freeware PDF viewers I have tried, PDF Xchange Viewer 2.0 is the best. It integrates perfectly with Firefox as well as with IE 7. It displays graphics much better than Foxit.

    The free functions provide every feature the average user could ever want, as well as some that power users will appreciate. It is easy to add a comment or a “typewriter” note. You can rotate any page or selected pages.

    I wholeheartedly recommend this program.

  • fr

    I also agree it’s better than Foxit.

    But the review is no longer accurate for build 2.0, as the editing features, e.g. deleting a page, are only available in Pro version.

    Reasons I think is better than Foxit:
    – keeps saved settings between sessions
    – you get a plugin for Firefox and IE
    – better rendering engine, much smoother
    – supports large vectorial images and native Adobe format
    – you can hide all ads/toolbars
    – shortcuts customizable, easy and common
    – advanced tweaks for memory and thread usage
    – portable version available

    Reasons I think it’s worst than Foxit:
    – no minimize to tray available
    – heavy on ram (but also light on cpu)
    – bookmark icons are really ugly and intrusive

  • Unlike Foxit reader that became slow and ugly, this one is slick and and launches fast.
    It IS that good, I now use Pro version at workplace and rely mostly on PDF as a storage format.

    I give it my “stamp of approval” !

  • ipenzey

    I have use new build (2.5,189) from the original site http://www.tracker-software.com/product/pdf-xchange-viewer. I’m very happy to work with my pdf-files from ?AD. Very fast scrolling. Faster than Adobe (sometimes I used Adobe for the similar files). Now I like only PDF-XChange. The new version has some new nice features (it’s ability to change colour, fonts or main background according to your style and mood, close even a single opened tab without closing the Viewer itself, also open/close pop-ups grouping them by colour…). I oftern send and read my pdf-files on another computers and haven’t any problem. All my comments, notes, stamps, fonts, pictures are in its place. Also I can read pdf in my Firefox (with mark Edit -> preferences -> File Associations ‘Display in Browser’ ). I’ grateful for this Viewer.

  • olegdudan

    I use PRO version and I’m very satisfied with its work. A great product from an excellent software company.

  • Richard

    Check out STDU Viewer too (my fav PDF viewer). It’s a very small (@ 2Mb download) and polished program. Best of all, it’s what we like most …. it’s free. http://www.stdutility.com/stduviewer.html

  • VP

    STDU can open .pdf, .djvu and some other file-formats but it only read these files. I prefer PDF-XChange Viewer too. It’s versatile viewer and editor pdfs. It has many little details that makes my work pleasant and differs efficiently from others.

  • Reynaldo Rivas

    Hi. This service here allows you to easily edit your PDF documents.


    You can fill out PDF form, save it, fax it, and email it.

  • Uchiha Itachi

    Sounds awesome, this reminding me of the WinForms PDF Viewer control, don’t know if thy work as the same rationale.

  • Sanja Pob

    The PDF-XChage Editor npw supersedes the PDF-XChange Viewer. It is more featured then Viewer, and, also, holds its high position as the best competitor Adobe. It comes with Free version, as well as PRO version.