Reviewing Sumatra PDF, a Small PDF Reader That You Can Carry in a Thumb Drive

Saikat Basu

It took me five seconds to download the zipped file of Sumatra PDF, a free portable PDF and eBook reader. Compare that with the thirty minutes it takes for downloading the Adobe Reader installer. I just checked…Sumatra PDF is taking up around 4 MB of my HDD space. Adobe as planted itself on 152 MB.

Of course, the Davids of the PDF world cannot be compared to the Goliaths like Adobe when it comes to a face-off. I just started with it so that I can illustrate the appeal of portable software that are lightweight and do their core jobs well.

Sumatra PDF

Sumatra PDF is an open source viewer for Windows (Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7). You can use it to open PDF, DjVu, EPUB, XPS, CHM, CBZ and CBR and MOBI files, which pretty much covers the popular eBook formats. You can also preview LaTeX (an academic format) documents. The portable install of Sumatra PDF is a single file without any dependencies. That makes it perfect to be carried around in a USB drive. That’s why you will find it to be a part of many portable apps packages like Portable Apps and LiberKey.

Sumatra PDF

Sumatra PDF is snappy and opens to display a clean and simple interface. Here are some of the key features that the portable PDF reader brings to the table:

Cool Tip: We have covered another useful Adobe Reader alternative called Nitro PDF Reader. You might want to check that out too.

1.Ease of reading: Sumatra PDF gives you all the options to arrange the pages for easy reading. The most comfortable in my opinion is the Presentation mode which is a full-screen layout. You can use the Zoom to fine-tune the view if someone is visually challenged.

Sumatra PDF

2.Easy Navigation: Sumatra PDF keeps it simple with keyboard navigation and arrows on the toolbar. Learning the keyboard shortcuts should smoothen your navigation by a degree. For instance, you can open successive documents in the same directory with a press on + + Rightto toggle between documents in the same directory.

3.Easy Bookmarking: Sumatra PDF allows you to designate specific pages as favorites. It is a bookmarking feature. Also, you can set Sumatra PDF to remember the point where you closed your last file (Remember settings for each document), so that you don’t have to scroll through the pages again. It also displays a Frequently Read page the next time you open it up.

Sumatra PDF

4.Hyperlink Support: All embedded hyperlinks in PDF documents are supported and are opened with your default browser.

5.Others: Sumatra PDF gives you full control over what you need to print via the Print dialog box of your OS. You can directly open your email client and attach the PDF file. The tool also has a search box that helps you find text.

Sumatra PDF passes muster as a fast and reliable PDF reader. I would have liked a highlighting and annotation feature as these are lacking. I couldn’t check out how the PDF reader handles secure documents, but reports say that it’s a no bother. The bottom-line is that Sumatra PDF is quick and does the basic job really well. If you are dissatisfied with the relative heaviness of Adobe Reader, then keep this portable and free PDF/eBook reader close by.

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