7 Best Free PDF Readers For Mac To Use In 2021

Level up the PDF game on your Mac computer.

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If you’re a power user or you need a PDF viewer that offers more, this is our list of best PDF readers for Mac. The Preview app on macOS is also the default PDF viewer. It can create, merge, unmerge, and sign PDF files.

While it is one of the best macOS default apps to use, it still has its limitations when it comes to marking and editing PDFs. PDF files are difficult to edit, which preserves the integrity of the document which is why most of the confidential documents are shared in PDF format.

Best PDF Reader For Mac 2021

Mac PDF Readers At A Glance

1. Adobe Reader For Mac – Overall Best Free PDF Reader

Adobe acrobat reader for mac

What could be the more efficient software for opening a PDF file than the one from the company that created PDF? Adobe Reader for Mac is highly efficient and simple-to-use software that comes free of cost. You can view, print, and comment on PDF documents using this free PDF reader software for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Adobe Reader for Mac now also supports Adobe Document Cloud using which you can access your files from anywhere across different devices.

Adobe Reader offers basic tools; if you want advanced tools including some features to edit PDFs, you can download Acrobat Pro DC which is a paid PDF viewer.

Pros and Cons of Adobe Acrobat Reader

ProsCons
– Feature-packed
– Reliable and up-to-date
– Works across platforms
– Free plan lacks features
– Monthly plan also requires an annual commitment

Price: Free/Premium

2. Wondershare PDFElement – Feature-Rich PDF Reader For Mac

PDF element best free pdf readers

If you want a feature-rich PDF reader for your macOS device, look no further than PDFElement. This software packs some powerful features such as adding text, images, links, OCR technology, highlighting text, and a highly user-friendly user interface. PDFElement is not just a PDF reader, it also brings a couple of PDF editing tools that you can use to annotate PDFs or add text/images. Additionally, it provides the option to password-protect your PDF files.

PDFElement is the best Adobe reader alternative for Mac. There is a free version but it has limited functionality. On the downside, even the paid basic $79.99/year plan misses out on features like organizing and compressing PDFs.

Pros and Cons of PDFElement

ProsCons
– Free download gives you basic features
– Less expensive alternative to Adobe Acrobat
– No annual commitment needed
– Basic paid pack gives access for one Mac only
– Basic paid plan doesn’t have basic features like edit, compressing, and organizing PDFs.

Price: Free, $79.99 for advanced functionalities

3. PDF Reader – Document Expert

PDF Reader best pdf reader for mac

PDF Reader – Document Expert, facilitates reading, editing, and signing PDFs. You can annotate PDFs, highlight text, add shapes, add stamps and insert links in a PDF file. For reading PDFs, there is a night mode, PDFs can be presented as a slideshow and you can lock your files with a password, Touch ID, or Face ID.

It has a user-friendly interface with all the buttons and tools neatly labeled. PDF Reader – Document Expert also allows you to view multiple PDF files as tabs for easing reading. It is a complete PDF app if you opt for a subscription. There is also a free trial available if you do not want to put in money for a PDF reader app.

Pros and Cons of PDF Reader – Document Expert

ProsCons
– Basic plan has good functionality
– Clean interface
– Multiple tabs make it easier to switch between PDFs
– Some users have reported crashes on the App Store

Price: Free trial, paid plans starts at $9.99 billed annually

4. PDF Professional – Free PDF Reader With Different Reading Modes

PDF Professional Best PDF Reader for mac

PDF Professional, as the name says is a professional PDF app for Mac devices. This software includes functionalities for reading, annotating, editing, and converting PDF files. This is one of the best PDF readers for Mac because of its meticulously designed user interface and ample tools to edit and read PDFs.

You can add links, images, view and respond to annotations in the comments, fill static PDF forms, and do much more with this free PDF viewer. it also presents you with the option to password-protect and encrypt your PDF files in case you have sensitive data. PDF Professional also has a Text-to-Speech feature in which you can select the text or document to be read.

Pros and Cons of PDF Professional

ProsCons
– Different reading modes
– Good feature spread for a free PDF viewer
– Not suitable for big files

Price: Free

5. Skim – A PDF Reader Specially Designed For Reading eBooks

Skim PDF reader for mac

Skim is an open-source PDF reader app. It is one of the light, fast, and useful PDF readers for Mac. You can add and edit notes, highlight text using single swipe, view notes, and highlights in a single place. There are also built-in transitions for presenting a PDF file and many such powerful tools.

Skim supports Spotlight, which means you can search text directly from Spotlight Search. The full-screen mode and exporting notes as text is an important and useful feature of Skim. Its neat interface is another factor why we have included the free PDF reader on this list.

The absence of OCR features could be a deal-breaker for some, but if you want a document software only for reading eBooks in PDF format, this is the one we recommend.

Pros and Cons of Skim

ProsCons
– Free PDF viewer and editor
– Has a decent spread of functions with a user-friendly interface
– Good for reading eBooks
– It isn’t updated frequently which could be a problem for some
– It isn’t as polished or easy on the eyes as some of the paid PDF readers

Price: Free

6. Foxit PDF Reader – Free PDF Reader With Cloud Storage Integration

Foxit free PDF reader for Mac

If you’re looking for a PDF reader that is small in size but comes with powerful features then do give Foxit PDF Reader a try. It is a small, fast, and feature-rich PDF reader that also allows you to create, view annotate, and sign PDF files.

The software has an intuitive user interface and also offers customization options for reading PDF files.

Moreover, Foxit PDF reader is one of the few PDF readers that offer features like filling forms, import/export of data, and integration with cloud storage options like OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box.

Pros and Cons of Foxit PDF Reader

ProsCons
– Free to use
– Comes with good features like cloud integration
– lightweight and fast
– Works across platforms
– App Store reviews say some features available on the Windows version are missing from Mac

Price: Free

7. Haihaisoft PDF Reader – Fast, Secure & Free PDF Reader

Haihaisoft pdf reader for mac

This is an underrated PDF reader for Mac devices that is specially intended simply for reading PDFs. With a file size of just 4MB, it is far better than other heavy PDF readers for Mac. One of the highlighting features of Haihaisoft PDF reader is that it can open a PDF document even if it is protected by the DRM-X platform.

Moreover, this free PDF reader for Mac doesn’t connect to the internet without users’ permission. This makes it safe and secure if you want a PDF reader for viewing confidential documents.

Pros and Cons of Haihaisoft PDF Reader

ProsCons
– Lightweight and fast
– Can open DRM-X protected files
– Doesn’t offer many tools for power users

Price: Free

How To Choose Best PDF Reader For Mac?

Mac users have a number of PDF readers to choose from. Choosing the best of the lot depends largely on your requirements. For reading PDFs, we recommend Skim and PDF Professional.

For business-related requirements, you can use PDFElement or iSkysoft PDF Editor. As a daily driver for simply opening PDF files, PDF Professional and Adobe Reader for Mac could be a better choice. Also, check out our list of best pdf readers for android here!

Most of the options in our list offer more than one type of subscription so you can get the one that suits you best. For most users, a basic PDF reader with markup and annotation capabilities is more than enough. If you like to read in low light, most PDF readers also support dark mode.

If you’re working outside the Mac ecosystem, check out our list of free PDF editors. For power users that require more storage, we have a list of the best cloud storage options for you to choose from.

Best PDF Readers For Mac FAQs

Do Macs come with a built-in PDF reader?

Yes, Macs come with a pre-installed Preview app that can view and mark up PDFs. You can also rearrange and export PDFs into various formats using the Preview app.

Is there a free PDF reader for Mac?

Yes, readers like PDF Professional, Skim, and Foxit are free PDF tools with a slick interface.

How do I pick the best PDF reader for my Mac?

You can choose the best PDF reader by knowing what you’re going to use it for. Once you figure out your usage, try out the PDF readers that you think work best for you and pick one that fits the bill.

Anmol Sachdeva

Anmol Sachdeva

Anmol is a tech journalist who handles reportage of cybersecurity and Apple and OnePlus devices at Fossbytes. He's an ambivert who is striving hard to appease existential crisis by eating, writing, and scrolling through memes.
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