J.D. Fox Micro Resource Center
Here are links for some of the many applications that handle PDF files. For more information about PDF file management, please read PDF Files — An Introduction.
If you simply need to view PDF files, and they are not displaying in your web browser, or when you try to open a PDF file you get a prompt that you don't have the right software, then download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader below. This is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android.
Note: Adobe renamed Adobe Acrobat Reader to Adobe Reader with the release of version 6 way back in 2003, probably to more clearly distinguish the free reader-only program from the paid PDF editing programs, Adobe Acrobat Standard and Adobe Acrobat Professional. With the release of version 12 (designated as version "DC"), Adobe has reverted back to calling it Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Adobe Acrobat Reader: Recommended Link for ordinary users
The above link will direct you to the correct Adobe Acrobat Reader program files for your computer or phone. For a computer, it will download and install the correct version of the program. For a mobile device, it will bring you straight to the Adobe Acrobat Reader app in the relevant app store.
For a Windows or Mac computer, before you click Download now, uncheck the box that says "Yes, install..." if you don't want to install Google Chrome, the Google Toolbar, McAfee Security Scan Plus, or whatever other programs it will offer (depending on what kind of computer and/or browser you're using). This additional software has nothing to do with Adobe Acrobat Reader or PDF files.
Adobe Acrobat Reader: Direct Download for System Administrators
For advanced users and system administrators. You must manually specify your operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux, or Android), then you can download the entire installer file to save on your computer for later reference. This is an .exe file; you can follow Adobe's instructions (linked below) to extract the .msi file if you want to distribute this to Windows-based computers on a network (read the comments below the blog for Adobe Reader XI). Adobe requires you to fill out a web form and get approval before you are licensed to copy the installer to other computers (a simple process, really). The link to Adobe's form is on the page linked above, and presented below as well.
How to extract an MSI file from the EXE for Adobe Reader (for automated network distribution to Windows-based computers)
Get free distribution permission for Adobe software (applies to all platforms)
If you need to create PDF files on your computer, and your word processing software does not support saving directly to PDF format, or to edit PDF files directly, one or more of the links below may help. The Apple Mac, starting with OS X, has a basic built-in PDF printer, supporting all applications.
The standard PDF creation software from the inventor of PDF. It can create a PDF from any application that prints, integrate into several applications (such as Microsoft Office) for more robust support, and combine multiple files into one PDF easily. This can even convert a PDF back to Microsoft Word or Excel format. Supports limited editing of PDF files, watermarks, comments (sticky notes), creating fillable forms, and digital signatures. Finally, this will perform optical character recognition (OCR), which will enable you to select text in a PDF if it is not already selectable (because it was scanned on a scanner that does not perform OCR when scanning, for example). Windows only.
The most comprehensive PDF document creation and management application, with additional features beyond Acrobat Standard. Windows and Mac.
Click here for Adobe's chart to Compare Acrobat editions
A worthy alternative to Adobe Acrobat Standard. This link is to the Business version with some powerful new collaboration and security features. You can browse to their other editions, such as Foxit PhantomPDF Standard with fewer features, or the Foxit Advanced PDF Editor with an interface that looks like you're running a typical word processor. Windows only, with free trials.
PDF-XChange by Tracker Software Products
Another full-strength alternative to Adobe Acrobat Standard, offered in free and paid versions with various feature sets. The above link takes you to a thorough, but somewhat cluttered and confusing, feature comparison chart. Windows only.
Although the product is called Nitro Pro, this does not mean it fully matches the feature set of Acrobat Pro. For the most part, you should consider it to be an equivalent to Acrobat Standard, although new features in the latest version bring it a lot closer to Acrobat Pro. Nitro offers a free trial. Windows only.
Nuance Power PDF (formerly Nuance PDF Converter)
From the company best known for its Dragon voice/dictation software. Full-featured PDF editor, like the ones listed above. It comes in Standard and Advanced editions, including a version for the Apple Mac. You can download a free trial of the Advanced edition.
Basic PDF creator for any application, and a favorite of J.D. Fox Micro. Free for business use up to 10 users. Windows only. If you need more than 10 licenses, follow the link to bioPDF, which is the same software licensed through a different entity.
"Save As PDF" Add-in for Microsoft Office 2007
Free download from Microsoft for saving to PDF from the applications in the Microsoft Office 2007 suite (Windows only). You don't need this for Microsoft Office 2010 or 2013, which come with built-in support for saving files to PDF.
Finally, here is a terrific product that allows you to extract information from PDF files. You might need this if you have a table of information in a PDF, and want to put it in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Using a product like Able2Extract, you can avoid having to retype the information manually.
Able2Extract PDF Converter by Investintech
Windows, Mac, and Linux. Free trial available.