Nitro’s new free PDF reader takes the key features that you want in a PDF reader, a familiar interface, and smooth functionality and combines them into an eminently usable program that doesn’t get in between you and your documents. Nitro has turned the free PDF alternative business model on its ear by providing you with a smart selection of watermark-free editing, drag-and-drop PDF creation, and tabbed PDF reading.
To put it mildly, the feature set is robust. Users can comment on PDFs using notes and text markup, fill out forms, print to PDF, or create one by dragging an existing document into Nitro, share and comment with others, and securely sign a document. This may sound like standard PDF boilerplate, but it’s important to emphasize given that they’re all free here, and they all work well. The search utility isn’t bad, although it would be nice to see Windows 7-style federated in-document searching. The drag-and-drop took a few seconds to begin once initiated, but overall converting a four-page Word document took about 2 minutes. The highlight tool will switch automatically from box highlighting to character highlighting, depending on whether you start highlighting in an empty space or over some text. Nitro sports a ribbon-style interface borrowed from the previously released paid version of Nitro. This may still frustrate some users, but it feels slick and connected to Microsoft Office. If you don’t like or need the ribbon, you can hide it with an arrow that lives to the left of the search engine. You can also customize the ribbon, placing your most commonly accessed tools where you need them.
In testing, Nitro’s functionality kept pace with its comprehensive toolset. When you install it, it will ask if you want to contribute anonymous usage data. Users are opted in automatically, so if you don’t like contributing don’t install on autopilot. Nitro PDF Reader Free does more by default than any free PDF reader currently available, does precisely what it advertises, and does it unobtrusively, rocketing it to the top of the PDF pack.