Why is Adobe Reader so big?
Because it has a lot of features made to let Adobe’s corporate customers get better value out of you! This post is inspired by a comment about Adobe Reader by howardhus on Reddit.
“Adobe Reader” is not just a PDF reader. At the pro tier, it has a massive feature list featuring gems such as:
- Send and track documents online (implies a complete built-in mail server)
- Collect e-signatures from others and track responses in real time (real-time engagement tracking)
- Turn scanned paper documents into instantly editable PDFs (OCR)
- Convert web pages to interactive PDFs, complete with links (a complete web browser, in fact!)
- Mark PDFs with stamps, such as “approved” or “draft” (a full version control system)
- Add audio, video, and interactive objects to PDFs (multiple media players)
Beware! The free reader doesn’t give you the power of these features. As the original commenter deftly puts it:
Merely displaying PDFs is one function out of 100. To you as the consumer, it’s the bait… but the system behind it is what Adobe sells to its corporate consumers. They say: “You want a full fledged content tracking system? We got it… and the best part is all your customers have the clients already installed! in the form of Adobe Reader”.
This is the shady reason you’re downloading 500 MB of software just to open PDF files.
What you can do
If you want to free up space and cut Adobe’s install base for their massive metrics platform, here’s what you can get instead:
- Firefox user? You already have a decent PDF reader; just set Firefox as your default application for opening PDFs. But beware it prints certain types of diagram incorrectly! :(
- Download Evince, a multi-format reader, only 32MB. Built for Linux and now ported to Windows. The advantage over other reader downloads is that it doesn’t come with junkware included!
- Download Foxit reader but be aware of unticking all of the junkware in the installer! It’s a 42MB download (but it also comes from a slower download server).
Thanks for reading! Tweet me @SteGriff, and enjoy using better software!