Chrome and Chrome OS (the operating system running on Chromebooks) both come with a built in PDF viewer provided by Google. However, it is very simple, and does not allow you to edit documents. If you are on Windows or Mac, there are other PDF viewers and editors you can use, but on Chromebooks you have to search the Chrome Web Store for one (click here for my article on using the Chrome Web Store to enhance your Chrome browser).
Just like the more popular and widely used Adobe Reader, the Chrome Web Store offers PDF viewing programs that allow users to view and edit PDF documents. I looked at different PDF programs on my Chromebook from the Chrome Web Store, and have picked out a clear winner.
The Winner: Notable PDF
Notable PDF provides the best all in one solution as a free PDF viewer for Chromebooks. It gives users the ability to not only view their PDF files, but to also edit them. In addition, using the Share function allows users to edit the PDF in real time with coworkers. In addition, this PDF viewer works offline and integrates into Google Drive.
When viewing the program, the tools are simple and easy to find. A bar at the top of the screen allows users to search the document, zoom in or out, access the Share function, print or download the file, and other options.
The editing functions include a highlighter, the ability to add comment bubbles, and select text to copy. Using these tools in conjunction with the Share function is very useful, because every user sees any changes to the document on their own version right after they are made. For instance, when I added a comment to the page, it showed up on another version of the document I had open.
The Runner Up: PDF Viewer
As the name implies, PDF Viewer is mostly just a viewer, because it does not have many tools to edit the document. There is not a highlighter, but you can make comment bubbles on the document, and this one has a share function too. It also works offline, and integrates with Google Drive. The main difference is the absence of the highlighter, and a couple smaller functions are also missing. However, if for some reason you dislike Notable PDF, this will be your next choice.
Best Paid PDF viewer: PDF Buddy
If you are willing to pay for a PDF viewer, then definitely go with with PDF Buddy. When paying for this PDF viewer, not only do you get the same functions as Notable PDF, you also are able to do much more editing, sign the document electronically, and it comes with 25 GB of cloud storage. The tools available for this service far outnumber Notable PDF. However, this program does not support offline usage.
The reason why it is not my winner is because it is a subscription service, costing $7.99 a month. Alternatively, you can get a free account, giving you 1 GB of cloud storage, and the ability to edit three PDFs a month. To edit more PDFs on the free plan, you can purchase credits, each PDF costing one PDF. If you are willing to pay the monthly fee or for the credits, this is the best PDF viewer and editor, otherwise it is best to use one of the PDF viewers above.
Honorable Mention: PDFzen
PDFzen is another great free PDF viewer and editor for Chrome, but it lacks one major function that Notable PDF had: the Share function. If that is something important to you, then Notable PDF is your first choice. However, if you would not use this function, then PDFzen might still fill your needs.
In addition the Share function, PDFzen does have fewer tools than Notable PDF, such as being able to rotate the page, and a presentation view of the PDF. However, PDFzen does have a free hand drawing tool, which Notable PDF does not have. In addition, PDFzen is in beta still, so expect its’ functions and tools to grow over time.
Continue the conversation in the comments below by picking which is your favorite PDF viewer for Chrome and why. Or, if you use a different one that was not mentioned above, mention it in the comments too!