Top 12 Best PDF Reader Tools for Mac (10.15 Catalina included)

Oct 16,2019 • Filed to: Mac Tutorials

"Is there a reliable PDF reader for Mac (macOS 10.15 Catalina)?"

Mac users have a number of PDF reader programs to choose from, including Adobe Reader for Mac and Preview. But if you want a better PDF reading experience, you might want to use a more robust and powerful PDF program. In this article, we’ve compiled the top 12 free PDF reader for Mac tools including PDFelement Pro, which offers more features than a simple PDF reader.

Part 1: Top 12 Best PDF Reader Tools for Mac

1. PDFelement Pro - The Best Alternative PDF Reader to Adobe Acrobat for Mac

As high-quality as Adobe Reader is due to its constant updates and improvements, you can also look into alternative programs that can perform many of the same tasks. PDFelement Pro for Mac, as the best alternative PDF Reader to Adobe Acrobat for Mac, acts as both a PDF editor and reader that provides you full functions for PDF editing and a better experience reading PDF on Mac. This tool lets you add text, images, bookmarks, and more to your PDF. In addition, a user can also highlight text, underline, use strike-through features on the text and crop PDF pages on Mac. Watermarks can also be used to protect your PDF files on Mac. You can even edit and convert scanned PDF files with PDFelement Pro.

Key Features of this PDF Reader:

  • Add, delete or edit text, images, graphics, links, watermarks, and more.
  • Convert PDF to Word and other formats, or create PDFs from Webpages, images, and text files.
  • Quickly mark up and annotate PDFs with various annotation tools.
  • Combine or split PDFs, organize pages, and easily fill out PDF forms.
  • Edit and convert scanned or image-based PDFs using the OCR feature.
  • Easily add watermarks, passwords, and signature to PDF documents.
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2. Skim - A Popular and Well-developed PDF Reader for Mac

Skim is a popular PDF Reader on Mac that is tailored towards scientific purposes, although it can also be used to view other types of documents as well. This free PDF reader software is designed to be customizable for individual use, and is handy for notes and previews. The reason why Skim is one of the most popular options is because it includes easy-to-use and visually impressive reading modes.

Key Features:

  • Single swipe highlight mode for easy use
  • AppleScript support
  • Ability to preview internal links
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3. Adobe Reader for Mac - A Widely Used Free PDF Reader

You can download Adobe Reader on Mac for free and set it as your default PDF reader. Adobe Reader for Mac is considered the industry standard. Adobe is still a very well respected product on the market, as they are constantly making improvements and upgrades to the program, but there are other options that offer many of the same features at a lower price and without without complicated licensing agreements.

Key Features:

  • Fast and easy to use
  • Established platform worldwide
  • Considered industry standard
  • Well developed and supported
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4. Free PDF Reader - A Simple to Use Mac PDF Rreader

This is another very popular Free PDF Reader for Mac. It includes many excellent features, and is designed to be easy to navigate and simple to use. The software claims to have 150million users, which indicates a tried and tested package, and offers some impressive features including:

Key Features:

  • Multi document viewing feature
  • Rotate and Zoom facility
  • Exporting and conversion capabilities
  • Advanced printing options
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5. Haihaisoft Reader for Mac - A Small Size Free PDF Reader for Mac

A prominent feature of Haihaisoft for Mac is its small size at only 3MB ; this compact PDF Reader for Mac takes up much less space than other programs like Adobe Reader (see below). The package covers a wide range of languages and is designed for ease of use, while it is also well supported and has been developed for use on a number of platforms. Interesting features include:

Key Features:

  • Instant launch time
  • No background net connection for added security
  • Opens all PDF documents
  • Protection with DRM-X
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6. PDFSam - A New Free PDF Reader for Mac

PDFSam is a relatively new release that has been met with mixed reviews. This free PDF reader for Mac is designed for splitting and merging documents, hence why it is called 'SAM'. Some users report problems while using the application, though generally it is reported to be user-friendly and quick for the average user.

Key Features:

  • Split and Merge – (SAM)
  • Extract sections as separate PDFs
  • Reorder pages when needed
  • Compose documents by dragging and dropping
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7. PDF Info - An Easy-to-use Free PDF Reader

PDF Info is specifically designed for viewing information stored in PDF documents, rather than actually creating new ones. While it is limited in its operation, it is easy to use and designed in a basic and uncluttered style.

Key Features:

  • Easy to install and use
  • Quick operation
  • View info in PDF
  • Very small download size
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8. Read Right - A Flexible Free PDF Reader

Read Right is a clever product, designed to tackle the increasing numbers of smaller notebook type laptops. It’s most beneficial feature is that it automatically rotates the screen to fit – book style – on a handheld device, making it much more convenient to use.

Key Features:

  • Multiple navigation options
  • Zoom control for expansion
  • Possible white on black text option for readers
  • Returns to the same page after interruption
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9. Open Office 3 - A Versatile Free PDF Reader

The latest version of this popular and very versatile Open Office PDF reader is designed for business and personal users to read PDF files on Mac. It includes an impressive new array of features that have been improved and refined. It continues to be one of the leading free PDF readers for Mac on the market.

Key Features Includes:

  • Abilityt to import Microsoft Office file types
  • Advanced features for note taking
  • Chart creation tools
  • The ability to export and share spreadsheets
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10. PDF Lab - A Well-developed Free PDF Reader

Designed to facilitate the manipulation of documents, PDF Lab is a well-developed and tested platform that is popular with a variety of users. A simple and user-friendly interface lets you use this tool as a PDF viewer. It can be updated through a regular software update, although at times you may have to do manual step-by-step updates.

Key Features:

  • Insert images and blank pages
  • Create new PDFs
  • Split documents into several different files
  • Encrypt documents for security
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11. Formulate Pro - A Simple Free PDF Reader

This is an easy-to-use and popular program, Formulate Pro does not have a ton of features, but it is a basic and effective tool for amending documents. This tool is not designed for creation of PDFs, but it is certainly an effective reader.

Key Features:

  • Open and edit existing PDFs
  • Add graphics and other images
  • Write using the cursor
  • Print out PDFs
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12. PDFView - An Impressive Free PDF Reader

PDFView offers a range of impressive features within a compact and easy to use package. It comes highly recommended by many users, and is a great way to read PDF documents. However, one issues is that it is no longer being developed, which means it might not be the best choice for a full-time PDF reader.

Key Features:

  • Has many customizable settings
  • Fit document to maximum screen size
  • Zoom in and out on PDFs
  • More features than Preview
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Part 2: Troubleshooting on Opening and Reading PDFs in macOS

Many people experience problems when trying to open or read PDFs on Mac. This is due to a variety of reasons, but luckily this problem is usually quite an easy one to solve in just a matter of minutes. Here are the three main reasons why you may have a problem reading a PDF on Mac, and what you can do to solve the problem.

Question 1. Your Web Browser needs Updating

Solution: This is one of the most common problemsthat can prevent you from being able to read a PDF. Not all not all browsers update automatically, and it could be that yours needs a manual update. You can usually run a regular software update, but other times you may be required to update manually through the menu. An outdated browser may be the issue, in which case you may need to update your browser to resolve the issue. You can then make annotations and markups within your document.

Question 2. Your Browser is not Compatible

Solution: This issue depends on your operating system. If you are running OS 10.5 x, as many are, you will find that the later versions of Safari, for example, are non-compatible with your operating system. This will lead to you being unable to open PDFs, as well as a number of other problems. It is recommended that users with this operating system try using Firefox instead, as that may solve the problem.

Question 3. Check the Adobe Reader Plug-in

Solution: This problem also affects many users. If you are opening your PDF with Adobe Reader, the Adobe Reader Plug-in can be problematic, especially if it is an automatic launch when you enter your browser. The trick is to delete the plug-in (just the plug in, not Adobe Reader itself). Try using Adobe Reader as a stand-alone program rather than having it run within your browser, and the problem should be solved. You can also re-install the plug-in if necessary.

Ivan Cook

chief Editor

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