Bits from Bill Pytlovany: An Alternate PDF Viewer


By Bill Pytlovany

Apparently Adobe isn’t making enough profits by selling Photoshop for $699. The basic Acrobat program needed to create PDF files is sold for $99 but that’s not enough either. The program to view and print PDF files appears to be free but if you’re not careful it comes with some unwanted baggage.


Adobe makes extra money every time someone downloads and installs the Google Toolbar. I usually know better but even I didn’t see the check box in my haste to download most recent Acrobat reader.  Given the number of vulnerabilities that keep occurring with the Acrobat reader I always recommend folks check to to be sure they have newest version. 

I’ve never been a fan of companies which keep trying to add programs to  my autorun list. Adobe Download Manager installs a number of components that run in the background and regularly connect to see if I need my software updated. These includes the Adobe Speed Launcher ( read_sl.exe ), Adobe Reader and Acrobat Manager ( adobearm.exe ), AcroIEHelper Library ( AcroIEHelper.dll ) and Adobe PDF Helper ( Acroiehelpershim.dll ) and Adobe Services like GetPlus_Helper.DLL

Given all the vulnerabilities and extra software, I decided I’ve had enough with Adobe. The PDF format has gotten so popular I would still need a program to view and print PDF’s.


Classic Bad Behavior
When discussing this issue on Twitter quite a few people recommended I switch to a PDF reader called FoxIt.  This program looked promising especially after I read “NO BLOAT”.  They lied.


The download process was clean and simple as long as I remembered to uncheck the options to make my new search provider and home page.


Why would they think I want to change my home page or default search? I thought it was bad enough these options were pre-checked but I never even had a choice if I wanted the Toolbar.  It was installed automatically. Sorry, but I consider this bloatware. What I wanted was a PDF viewer that’s all.


Luckily, I was greeted with a friendly warning from my favorite Windows Watchdog which immediately removed the unwanted toolbar.


That wasn’t the end of the story. FoxIt is a classic example of the bad habit of software including crap you never wanted. Before the install was complete I was encouraged to install an eBay shortcut on my Desktop!


After some more recommendations from Twitter friends, I’m currently using this free and open source program

This post is excerpted with Bill’s permission from his blog

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21 thoughts on “Bits from Bill Pytlovany: An Alternate PDF Viewer”

  1. Harvard F Miller II

    Bill, I have used your software (paid Versions) for years. As a rule, I agree with most of what you have said on here. BUT, and this is a big BUT, I totally dis-agree with you about Foxit. First of all, the first thing every interner surfer, and especially the ones who are wise enough to subscribe to sites like PC Pitstop-whose software I have used since version 1.5-need to remember is that there are no truly free lunches.Every program takes some space, some resources, and carries some risk because of the human element. That said, the first thing I do when setting up a computer of my own-currently 5-or a computer for a friend or family member, is remove all Adobe products except for what I think is neccessary, ie., the latest version of flash. When I download ANY software I look for required components. Foxit has none. If you installed the toolbar, it is because you didn’t uncheck all the boxes. The agreement they want you to sign is the one for, not foxit. I have downloaded, on your recommendation, freeware, that a couple years ago did not ask you to download something else. Almost ALL of the popular, and effective freeware out there today asks you to download a toolbar or trial version of some other software. Like I said in the beginning of this reply, nothing is free. You must wisely decide what you are willing to trade for the privilege of using. If you download something by accident and don’t want it, I recommend

    Thanks, -Harv

  2. “Bill Pytlovany Says:
    May 6th, 2010 at 11:40 am
    Apparently, I’m not the first to complain.
    There’s a nice description of the Foxit setup procedure here.

    Adding other silly people to the list doesn’t change the fact that what you stated in the article is incorrect, and you’re still the [B]first[/B] silly person I’ve seen who didn’t understand the difference between the license terms and the FoxIt license terms. The article should be edited to reflect the truth.

    Your main reason for not using it (bloat with is not really a valid consideration in my opinion. There’s very few free software choices that don’t try to bundle in something (the most popular seems to be the Google toolbar lately). As long as you’re given an option to install without the bloat, I don’t see the problem.

    There’s a few valid reasons listed here for not using FoxIt, EG: if the page doesn’t render properly or print properly, if you need more options than a simple reader provides, etc.. But personally I’ve never run into these problems. If/when I do, I’ll quickly switch to a better option. Currently, I have no reason to fix what isn’t broken. 🙂

  3. “Kevin C Says:
    May 6th, 2010 at 5:12 am
    “Um.. if you don’t accept the license, the toolbar for will not be installed. ”

    neither will the program”

    Wrong. On the page Bill shows as a screenshot, unchecking the “I accept the License Terms” tab
    greys out all other options on this page as well (all related, and has nothing to do with Foxit license), [b]and then setup continues[/b]. Works flawlessly for me on every version I’ve tried so far. 🙂

  4. I’ve been using CutePDF for several months for creating PDF’s, making forms, and other features. What a great program! The CreatePDF function is free, but the other “pro” stuff is $50. Well worth it, IMHO.

  5. Curiously enough, I had to do a large PDF printing job yesterday, using Foxit, and two of the pages didn’t render properly. I was ready to blame the printer, but as a result of your article and comments on your blog, I tried PDF-Xchange, which resolved the problem. It’s nearly as big as Adobe, but it has some useful editing features (including stamps) and I shall probably keep it.

    Thank for raising the question!

  6. Hi Bill — since I already own it, is there a downside to my using PDF Convertor 6 Professional. I have no idea why, but it is not currently installed on my PC…

    WinPatrol must have removed it for some reason… 🙂

  7. Foxit will install and run, even if you don’t allow it to install the crapware.

    And excellent PDF reader – i haven’t hit a PDF it couyldn’t open yet, and i’ve been using it for years.

  8. Did not accept the license and it still installed. Foxit reader works ok, but no better than other free software. don’t mind them making $ but it would better if they were less sneaky about it.

  9. Just use the portable version of Foxit. Problem solved. Though if unticking boxes a couple of times a year is too much hard work perhaps that may be too difficult too.

  10. Foxit… got it, use it, love it. Deselecting unwanted extras is not difficult. Just like reading EULAs before installing, read each installation page before clicking NEXT. And if you should slip up, well, that’s why Scotty is running in the back ground. 😎

  11. I’m not sure if everyone clicked to read the entire article.
    Sounds like my final evaluation is correct. People have grown to just expect this and accept it.


  12. I now use Sumatra, after getting tired of using Adobe’s reader and got sick of the problems I had with Foxit’s reader. The only downsides to Sumatra is it takes a long time to print large PDF files on a computer with low RAM, and that selecting text to copy is a little harder compared to that of other readers (It acts like a select tool in Photoshop, Corel Painter, etc.).

  13. What David W said.

    Used Foxit for a couple of years, very good and light.
    Been using PDF XChange Viewer last couple of years, as it had some extra functions I wanted. Also tip-top performance and no baggage.

  14. “Um.. if you don’t accept the license, the toolbar for will not be installed. ”

    neither will the program

  15. Any alternative to Adobe 9 has to be an improvement though. The download is 26MB, which is more than the entire hard disc of my first PC! Bloat, bloat, bloat.

    I noticed recently on ‘’ that Acrobat 5 was the most popular edition. I wonder why?

  16. Tried Foxit. I worked very well, much faster opening PDF files, allowed field completion in many cases. The only real problems I had were related to opening and printing some PDF documents from some websites. Bank of America won’t open statement PDF’s let alone print them with anything but bloated Adobe and Foxit doesn’t have an option that allows PDF files to be opened if it’s installed.

    So, thanks Foxit

  17. Um.. if you don’t accept the license, the toolbar for will not be installed. Maybe they should have been more specific about it, but you’re the first person I’ve seen silly enough to not understand the difference between the licence (when everything on that page is about and the Foxit license. I’ve been using FoxIt for years with no anything installed and love it. No bloat, small program, and just works. 🙂

  18. Bill,

    THANKS for the review of Foxit Readers sneaky bloatware. I used it for a year and the basic program worked well enough. I quite using it a couple years ago because I could not cause it to open in a new window when opening PDFs from a browser. Now I would not consider going back.

    We need more discerning reviews like yours!

  19. Good story – but only a small part of the story! First unmentioned story: there is a trend to freeware being offered with optional extras such as Google and Ask Toolbars. Some people think that it is morally wrong for companies to want to make money from what they do, and if these people are correct, then doing this is clearly a mortal sin. But to me, the true moral issues are: do they make the optional extras genuinely OPTIONAL (which they DO), and do they provide information to allow the user to make an informed choice (which they DO NOT). Second unmentioned story: even allowing for the problems of avoiding the Ask and Ebay extras, is Foxit worth it, that is, as a substitute for Adobe Reader? My answer is: absolutely!!!

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