Goodbye Adobe Reader Hello Sumatra

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 1, 2008
Updated • Sep 19, 2015

I always thought that free meant that I did not have to do anything to get the free item or service. I had a problem with the Adobe PDF Reader and a huge 35 Megabyte PDF which took ages to load and decided to install all the latest versions of alternative PDF viewers.

The Adobe PDF Reader was not rendering the pdf file properly and it took ages to scroll and change settings.

I did use the latest version of Adobe Reader and made sure of that, but could not figure out why it had issues displaying the PDF document properly and giving me the controls I needed to read it.

I first thought it could be my computer because it's not the newest anymore as you might know. A quick search revealed the portable application Sumatra which I had heard about before and the decision to install it was made quickly. The installation was without problems and I changed the default viewer from Adobe PDF Reader to Sumatra.

A click later showed a Please Wait Rendering notice which quickly was replaced by the first page of the pdf file that I was going to take a look at.

I was able to scroll two pages and was greeted by another Please Wait Rendering notice. Although this was not what I expected the overall performance was much better.

Sumatra seems to use some sort of advanced caching which reduced the rendering period to a minimum.  The pages that were rendered already where very responsive and I was able to take a look at them without further delay.

Why Sumatra is the better PDF reader

sumatra pdf reader

Sumatra PDF has been updated ever since my first initial review of the application here on Ghacks. These updates have not changed the core appeal of the program -- being lightweight and fast -- but added important features to the PDF reader that users will appreciate.

Here is a quick overview of the core features that Sumatra supports now (based on Sumatra 3.0):

  1. Sumatra is available as a portable version that you can run from any location.
  2. It is fast and highly responsive.
  3. The reader supports PDF but also EPUB, MOBI, CHM, XPS, DjVU, CBZ, CBR, CB7 and CBT.
  4. Sumatra supports tabbed browsing.
  5. 1-page or 2-page views for reading ebooks.
  6. Supports browser plugins for Firefox, Chrome and Opera.
  7. Many advanced settings and options to customize the reader.

I'm not saying that Sumatra is the perfect solution but it is far better than the original PDF reader by Adobe in my opinion if you just want to read PDF documents.

It would be interesting to know if you ran into similar troubles and if you did find a solution for them. I have tried other PDF readers in the past but they all did not match the speed and ease of use of Sumatra.

Goodbye Adobe Reader Hello Sumatra
Article Name
Goodbye Adobe Reader Hello Sumatra
Why I switched from using Adobe Reader for reading PDF documents to the free Sumatra program.

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  1. Sample Text said on October 9, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    7 Years later and Sumatra is still the best! I’m just upset I found it so late…

  2. Valery said on February 25, 2011 at 12:17 am

    For my opinion PDF-XChange Viewer is the most feature rich alternative to Acrobat available and FREE! Most features are FREE! Sumatra work good, but it is only for viewing. I need make comments, stamps, highlight text, …… and another. And PDF-XChange can do! I like its GUI much more than Foxit GUI. I’m satisfied with its fast and easy work. I wholeheartedly recommend anyone needing to work with PDF files takes a look at the free PDF-XChange Viewer from Tracker Software. It does numerous things that the FREE version of Foxit doesn’t. it also offers support for XFA PDF form files which neither Foxit nor Nitro does. The support is also excellent and free!

  3. Raskolnikov said on October 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Hi retards, Calibre is far better than Sumatra, Foxit or PDF XChange Viewer, you should widen your horizons and try it. The rendering is for example much much better, i like BIG letters, it suits me because it is good to have a distance when reading from a backlit screen. The problem with all the other readers is that if you zoom, the text comes out of screen instead of rearranging itself, how primitive isn’t that?

  4. Dalopin said on November 18, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    SumatraPDF ignores password protected PDFs and allows to still copy the content

  5. bill said on August 14, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Adobe Reader 8.12 boolean search says it finds x number of PDF files, but displays nothing in the results box! Previous version 7.08, although slow, worked.

  6. bill said on August 14, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    FoxIt text search = pitiful. No boolean capabilities in 2.2 and apparently not 2.3.

  7. Ignasi said on March 16, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    – Sumatra is GPL.
    – For me, it’s faster than Foxit and PDF x-Viewer.
    – No installation, just unzip (drool).
    – I have ALL that readers, but I open 90% of my PDFs with Sumatra.

    Just my 2 cents :)

  8. Zoob said on March 3, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Thanks you guys for the info on PDF XChange Viewer. I had never heard of it, so I downloaded it and gave it a run. I was quite impressed with it. It even had tabs at the top, though I don’t often have more than one PDF file open at once so I don’t know if I’ll get much use out of that feature. I found it to render the text in a similar fashion to Foxit so I think I will be sticking with Foxit for the time being.

  9. Jawwad said on March 2, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I have to agree that PDF XChange is the best for now.

  10. Kip said on March 2, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    I prefer PDF Xchange Viewer too – especially since a free portable version is now available. No installation and a set of markup tools make it a must-have

    1. DarkBlood said on July 2, 2010 at 11:39 pm

      for me was “Goodbye Foxit Reader, welcome PDF-XChange Viewer” :D

      Sumatra is the most simple pdf reader, TOO SIMPLE and because of that it lacks a lot of features that others pdf readers have.

      PDF-XChange Viewer is much like Foxit Reader, is better is some cases, more preferences for advanced users, natively portable (ALL settings are stored on the folder dir of the program) and nothing of ad-aware.

  11. Tobey said on March 1, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    1 more satisfied Foxit user here, never had a reason to try another viewer..

  12. Bill said on March 1, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    I used Foxit for years, but recently switched to PDF XChange Viewer. For my eyes, the latter renders the text more clearly. Try a side-by-side comparison.

  13. noris said on March 1, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    The only features that sumatra lack of is zooming using CTRL + mousescroll with available in both Foxit and Reader.

  14. Martin said on March 1, 2008 at 11:16 am

    I might have to add that I’m using a PDF Reader only for viewing purposes and no other fancy stuff.

    I have not tried Foxit for a long time, might give it a shot.

  15. MM said on March 1, 2008 at 10:54 am

    My own observations are contrary to yours. I find that Adobe Reader 8 is actually snappier to deal with heavy pdf files (specially graphic intensive ones) than Sumatra, Foxit or PDF XChange Viewer.

    The problem with Adobe Reader is that it is slow to startup and heavy on the resources, but once it is loaded it is the fastest pdf viewer around. The Adobe Reader Lite version ameliorates most of these problems.

    If all you use is the occasional small PDF with a bit of text, Sumatra is great. I use Sumatra as my default viewer, but for heavy duty Adobe is hard to beat.

  16. zzzZZZzzz said on March 1, 2008 at 10:52 am

    I’ve just tested Sumatra.. Well it even doesn’t seem to have a text selection tool; or I cannot find it.

    So for instant I keep the bloated Acrobat Reader.. it fits best to my needs.

  17. zzzZZZzzz said on March 1, 2008 at 10:48 am

    The text selection doesn’t work well in FoxitReader..

  18. Roman ShaRP said on March 1, 2008 at 10:38 am

    I ditched Adobe Reader some years ago, and using FoxIt instead. I tried Sumatra, but it’s functionality seems poor for me.

  19. Zoob99 said on March 1, 2008 at 10:02 am

    I also had problems with large PDF files loading very slowly with Adobe and I now use Foxit. I use version 2.0, since versions after 2.0 have more bloat which was one of the things I was trying to avoid by moving from Adobe Reader. I just wanted a simple PDF reader that does the job and I’m happy with Foxit. I have also tried Sumatra and found it to be a competent PDF reader too.

  20. wonta said on March 1, 2008 at 8:25 am

    try foxit reader. my long time favorite.

  21. vance said on March 1, 2008 at 7:11 am

    so is this a better than foxit reader? or an alternative to foxit? I have stop using Adobe Reader because it slow and it has useless features that makes it a bloatware.

  22. oozish said on March 1, 2008 at 3:21 am

    Foxit Reader is even better! google boyz./

  23. Words Within said on March 1, 2008 at 3:14 am

    Foxit Reader is a really speedy app too!

  24. Steve said on March 1, 2008 at 3:11 am

    Fox It works for me. Light and quick. Big PDFs are no problem.

  25. jajagerman said on March 1, 2008 at 3:08 am

    what about foxit?

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