Friday, February 15, 2013

Replacing Adobe Reader with Sumatra PDF

Sumatra PDF

Following the recent critical security advisory for Adobe Reader, questions have been raised in forums about an alternate PDF software program.

Although I provide security update information about Adobe Reader, I uninstalled it several years ago.  I switched to the open source software program SumatraPDF.

SumatraPDF is a free PDF, eBook (ePub, Mobi), XPS, DjVu, CHM, Comic Book (CBZ and CBR) reader for Windows, created by Krzysztof Kowalczyk.  The most recent update added support for FictionBook e-book format as well as support for PDF documents encrypted with Acrobat X.

I selected SumatraPDF because it has a small footprint, has no added toolbars and is not a target of malware writers. Although I indicated that SumatraPDF is not a target of malware writers like we have seen lately with Adobe Reader, that does not mean that the normal cautions should be thrown away. 

A SumatraPDF feature I particularly like is that you can select text or an image and copy it.  I have not had any problems opening PDF files at sites that specify "Adobe Reader Required".  Someone mentioned that they heard there is a problem printing from SumatraPDF.  My five year old printer has no problems printing from PDF files from Sumatra PDF. 

How to Change the SumatraPDF Background Color

One comment about SumatraPDF is that many people do not care for the bright yellow background.  If you don't like the yellow background, it can be changed to the color of your choice.

The first thing you need to do is to select the color you want to use to replace the yellow.  There is a simple chart to select a color on this color chart or this list of color codes.  Another source for selecting colors is available here.

This can be done either via the shortcut or a Command Prompt, both illustrated below:
  1. Locate the SumatraPDF shortcut in Windows' Start menu.
  2. Right-click it and select Properties
  3. Select the Shortcut tab:

    Sumatra Properties
  4. Append the line line below the Target line, substituting the hex code for the color you choose following the # symbol.  (Note the space before -bg and also before #) 
    -bg-color #EEEEEE

    The target line will read something like the following:

    "C:\Program Files\SumatraPDF\SumatraPDF.exe" -bg-color #DDDDDD

    or, on 64-bit systems

    "C:\Program Files (86)\SumatraPDF\SumatraPDF.exe" -bg-color #DDDDDD

  5. Click Apply and launch SumatraPDF to see the change from yellow to the color you select, in my case gray: Yellow Sumatra
If you prefer, this can be done via Command Prompt. 
  1. Click Start, type cmd
  2. Right-click cmd.exe and select "Run as Administrator".
  3. Change the path to Sumatra and add the change as shown below.
    Note the space between SumatraPDF and .exe
Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7601]
Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation.  All rights reserved.

C:\Windows\system32>cd C:\Program Files (x86)\SumatraPDF

C:\Program Files (x86)\SumatraPDF>SumatraPDF .exe -bg-color #DDDDDD

C:\Program Files (x86)\SumatraPDF>

SumatraPDF does not support Windows 8, which has a built in PDF reader.  The currently supported operating systems are Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.


Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...


Peter Griffioen said...

Corrine, thanks for the tip. I have replaced Adobe Reader on all 3 PCs to Sumatra. The XP machine would not even update to Adobe Reader 11 - just went through the motions only but stayed at 10.

Corrine said...

You're welcome, Peter.

Have you changed the background color or did you leave it the bright yellow?

joe53 said...

Nice tweak!

I always preferred the Stonehenge gray of the Windows Classic theme. I've used Sumatra for some time now, but that yellow was a bit much!


Peter Griffioen said...

No, I changed it the colours you are using, It is very easy on the eye.

Anonymous said...

What about Foxit Reader ?

Corrine said...

Joe and Peter, glad you like the color change.

To Anonymous, regarding Foxit:

I understand that there are costs involved in providing a free software program. However, Foxit includes IAC's Ask Toolbar. I understand that Foxit is now requesting registration and providing a "nag screen" to register.

There is a long history about the practices of IAC provided by Ben Edelman (IAC Toolbars and Traffic Arbitrage in 2013).

Nash said...

For what it's worth, I got myself the Sumatra source code and have recompiled it using better icons and gotten rid of the horrid yellow color which seems to be put there on purpose.

I am willing to share the modified and binary source code of course.

gagmani said...

Hey Nash,will you please share the link of your version with all the people?Like on a blog or through some other way.I would like to have your version of Sumatra PDF.

Anonymous said...

"A SumatraPDF feature I particularly like is that you can select text or an image and copy it."

This is false. The main flaw that ruins SumatraPDF is that it obeys PDF's DRM "protection" anti-features. If the document has these bits set, you CANNOT copy text from the document or print the document. It's really infuriating when you have the right to copy a snip of text, but the software gets in your way and prevents you from doing it. It's hypocritical for authors of Free Software to support DRM in this way, but when people ask the author to remove this flaw or make it optional, he refuses and deletes their comments.

There's actually a compile flag for disabling this, presumably because it annoys the author, but they refuse to publish binaries with it disabled. I wish someone would maintain a 64-bit fork with this anti-feature disabled.

Anonymous said...

You mean: "C:\Program Files (x86)\SumatraPDF\SumatraPDF.exe" -bg-color #DDDDDD

Corrine said...

Sorry, Anonymous, your question was placed in the spam folder.

The path in your comment is what I show above. However, I have learned there is another way to change the background color.

The traditional yellow of the "MainWindowBackground" can be changed by following the instructions here:

Corrine said...

Forget about the yellow! The default background for Sumatra PDF has been changed to gray! See the last sentence at SumatraPDF 3.0 released

(h/t DR M)