A Life Without PDF Readers

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 7, 2010
Updated • Oct 31, 2016

If you read yesterday's article a life without flash you already know where this article is heading. The attacks using pdf documents have increased, as have the vulnerabilities that are found regularly in Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat, the two most popular software programs to view pdf documents.

Recently, security vulnerabilities have also been found in the popular Adobe Reader alternative Foxit Reader.

The premise of the article is that living without PDF readers is possible if you do not have to use them for work (either readers or creators). The author of this article - that would be me - loads about 10-20 pdf documents per month. That's not a lot and using alternatives to pdf readers is not a task that is slowing down work by much.

A user on the other hand who reads 10-20 per day might think otherwise, as to users who need to interact with the documents, e.g. sign them, or edit them in other ways.

The question is: If there are no pdf readers installed, how can pdf documents be read? There are two answers to this question.

  • Use an online service to process them
  • Use a pdf converter to convert them to another format

Update: Other options have become available in recent years. Most browsers ship with a PDF reader that you can use, and there are programs like Sumatra which allow you to read PDF documents locally in an environment that is more secure. End

Online services like Google Docs can display pdf documents right in the web browser. The advantage of this method is that the pdf is not executed on the user's computer system which means that any exploit will have no effect. It takes on the other hand a tad longer to open Google Docs, upload the pdf and view it online.

Some users have also reported that Google Docs does not offer all the features and functions that Adobe Reader for instance offers. Those users might need to keep Adobe Reader or another PDF reader for now.

Users who are only accessing information can do so with Google Docs or Zoho easily.

Converting pdfs instead is a second solution. This can also be done offline or online. There are tools available that can convert pdf documents easily like Hello PDF for instance. It would however mean to replace one software with another which might also be exploited.

Online pdf converters like Free PDF Convert on the other hand offer the same advantages and disadvantages as online pdf readers.

It should be quite possible to uninstall all pdf readers and use one of the two alternatives described above. Some users might prefer to install a lesser popular pdf reader like Sumatra instead.

Now You: Which pdf reader do you have installed? Would you be able to live without a pdf reader on your computer?

A Life Without PDF Readers
Article Name
A Life Without PDF Readers
The article discusses alternatives to using Adobe Reader or other popular PDF readers to improve the security of the Windows PC.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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