PDF (Portable Document Format) files are a great medium of sharing information. They are light (in terms of compression), secure (with high levels of data encryption) and support many interactive functions like hyperlinks, text notes, mark-ups, etc. The only shortcoming of these PDF documents is that they cannot be opened or read using any of the windows stock readers. To read PDF files the most popularly used program is Adobe Reader, which is freely available.
Few days back while I was doing several tasks on some other pc, while opening a PDF file realized that it didn’t had Adobe Reader installed and because of which I was stuck. Later I tried to find some online tools which can be used to read the PDF files that are stored locally on your computer.
The first thing that came to my mind was reading the document using Google “Quick View”. Google has indexed billions of PDF’s (if not trillions) over time and you can always search Google for a PDF that you want to read and then open it using the “Quick View” link. This will open the PDF in your web browser.
To search a PDF in Google simply type:
“Keyword” filetype:pdf (without quotes)
But this method has certain limitations like, you won’t be able to find a PDF in Google index if it is your own PDF (which you have created or edited yourself before) or if it contains some copyrighted material.
So, here I have listed down 7 online PDF viewers that you can use to read your PDF files on the browser:
1. Google Docs:
Simple Visit Google docs and upload your PDF file there. After uploading the PDF, when you click on it, it will open in your browser.
Samurajdata is an online service that enables you to upload you PDF files and then view them on your web browser. The script they use is an open source one and you can download it from their website.
First time when I came to know that even gmail can be used to view PDF files, I was amazed. The whole process is quite simple. Actually it is based on the fact that gmail allows you to view an html version of PDF attachments. All you need to do is just to compose a new email and then attach the PDF that you want to view, send this email to yourself (same id or some other gmail id).
Now when you open that email, navigate to the attachment area and you will be able to see a link “View” there. Just follow the link and file will be opened in the browser.
PDF Online Reader is a nice online service where you can upload your PDF files and later view them online. Apart form reading the document the service also allows you do minor editing work (like adding annotations, highlighting text, etc.) in the file.
5. View Docs Online:
This service is very good if you want to read large documents online. The interface is quite good, very similar to the actual adobe reader. It also gives you some additional features like viewing the document in full-screen mode and printing it.
6. PDF Escape:
PDF Escape is yet another online PDF viewer. In fact it’s an injustice to just call it a PDF Viewer, rather it’s a complete PDF Workshop. It allows you to View, Create, Edit, and Share PDF files. But these all feature are only available for a registered user.
For unregistered users the site offers only to view PDF files less than 10 MB and less than 100 pages.
7. PDF 24:
This site requires you to have java on your machine. When you open the site in your browser it loads the web interface of its reader and from the reader you can select and open your PDF files.
That’s all from my side. Feel free to share your ideas on these online PDF viewers.