Two Alternative PDF Readers For Mac

Despite the many competitions, we can safely say that the default electronic document format accepted by the mass is “portable document format” or more known by the abbreviation: PDF.

One of the reasons I was glad to switch from Windows to Mac is the support for PDF. Creating and viewing PDF files are second to nature for Mac users. You just print the document and choose “PDF -> Save as PDF” to create one, and Preview automatically handle the viewing of PDF documents.

So, in the world where PDF is natively supported, why would anybody need another PDF viewer(s)? The answer is because Preview can’t do everything, and we can use these alternatives to fill in the holes.

1. PDFView

This one is a lightweight Mac OS X application to display PDF files. Even though it’s no longer in development, users can still rely on this small app to do one trick or two to rival Preview.


First, it will open the document in the maximum size the screen allows and with the optimized zoom level – very convenient for small screen users. But of course the settings could easily be adjusted from the Preferences menu.


Second, it gives users option to go into the full screen or presentation mode (where the PDF document is the only thing visible on your screen).

Some other features are:
– integration with LaTeX.
– magnification tool: just drag around the document to use it.
– page rotation, single or two-page view, and automatic zoom level.
– supports fifteen languages including English (of course!), German, French, Italian, Japanese and Chinese.

2. Skim

The PDFView on Sourceforge suggest users to use Skim as an upgrade or improvement. This one is a PDF reader and note-taker for OS X. Skim is designed to help you read and annotate scientific papers in PDF.


To list down all the features here will make this article a very long one and it’s already described in their home page. However, let me point out several things that I find useful:
– Adding different kind of notes to the document.
– Highlighting, underlining, and striking through selected text.
– Drawing circles, boxes, straight arrow lines and even freehand shape in the document.
– Splitting PDF document.
– Opening PDF document with wrong extension.

So if users only need to read the PDF documents, they should stick with the light and quick PDFView. If they need more bells and whistles, they might try Skim.

What about you? Have you tried to use other PDF readers or you just stick to Preview? Share your opinion below.


  1. Thanks, highlighting a few key points like this is good. Was wondering if it was worth the effort, now will give Skim a try.

  2. I know Skim, great tool!
    I think Preview (and the perfect pdf management in OS X) is really good for fast preview a file either for reading, and I use it really often (it is very pleasant and fast if compared with Acrobat Reader when you open a PDF in your browser).
    But when i must study a big pdf (so big that i don’t want to print it) Skim is irreplaceable!

  3. Thanks for the tips. I tried Skim. It’s nice that it’s free but it’s pretty limited and it was not enough for my needs. I ended up finding another tool called PDF Studio. It really does the job and supports most PDF functions found in Adobe Acrobat. Just I wanted to share this with other readers.

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