Free PDF Reader
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Free PDF Reader - A Portable PDF Reader for Windows, Linux and Mac

Have fun with this lean mean PDF viewer.
By V. Subhash
For Linux Users

If you are using Linux, please read the article How To Install Free PDF Reader In Linux for installation instructions.

February 2009 saw the release of a new office productivity application called Free PDF Reader. This was originally planned as a technology demonstrator for the PDF viewer component of our Java PDF library PDFOne. However, Free PDF Reader was released as a full-fledged product.

Free PDF Reader, as the name indicates, is a free PDF reader application. It can also print PDF documents and export PDF pages to several image formats.

Free PDF Reader was packaged as a portable application, that is, it did not have an installer. You can carry it around in a USB flash drive and run it on any Windows, Linux, or Mac computer that has latest Java Runtime Environment from Sun (Unfortunately, OpenJDK is not supported.) The runtime environment can be downloaded from

Getting Started

To start using Free PDF Reader in Windows, you need to:

  1. Get the Free PDF Reader download file.
  2. Extract the contents of the download file to a convenient location on your hard disk.
  3. Open the folder location in Windows Explorer.
  4. Right-click the FreePDFReader.jar file to display its shortcut (context) menu.
  5. Select the Open with option on the shorcut menu and then select Choose Program….
  6. In the Open with dialog that opens next, select Browse button. This will display a Open With… dialog box.
  7. Navigate to the folder where Sun Java runtime is installed. On my computer, I would go to C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.6.0_06\bin.
  8. In the bin folder, select javaw.exe and click on Open.
  9. Back in the Open With dialog, click on OK.

The FreePDFReader.jar will then be loaded and executed by the Sun Java Platform SE binary (javaw.exe) and Free PDF Reader will be displayed.

Tip: If you set javaw.exe as the default application for the "jar" file type, then you will be able to simply click the FreePDFReader.jar file to launch Free PDF Reader.

Alternatively, you can create a shortcut or use the Run dialog box in the Start menu with a command similar to:

"C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.6.0_06\bin\javaw.exe" -jar "c:\freepdfreader\FreePDFReader.jar"

If you try this option, please replace the paths of javaw.exe path and FreePDFReader.jar with the correct locations from your computer. You need to use quotation marks if the paths contain spaces.

Set Free PDF Reader As Your Default PDF Reader

If you wish to make Free PDF Reader as your default PDF viewer in Windows, follow these steps. (I have used Windows XP as the example. I have assumed that the extension "PDF" is already registered as a known file type and is associated with some other application, say, Adobe Reader.) Please get the help of a Windows expert if these steps seem complicated.)

Optimize Java heap size for loading heavy PDF documents

Sometimes, Free PDF Reader may run out of memory when loading huge PDF documents. To enable Free PDF Reader to load such files, increase the minimum and maxium heap size allocated to the Java Virtual Machine in the javaw.exe command, as shown below

"C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.6.0_06\bin\javaw.exe" -jar -Xms32m -Xmx128m "c:\freepdfreader\FreePDFReader.jar" "%1"

Here, the minimum heap size is set to 32 MB and maximum heap size is set to 128 MB. Ensure that you use integers for the heap sizes and that the minimum size is not larger than the maximum size.


To easily copy the path of a file in Windows, you can use Windows Explorer context menu extensions mentioned in the article Copy File Path and Name using Windows Explorer Context Menu Extensions.


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