Everyone hates PDFs, but there are some alternative PDF readers that should make reading them a little easier.
If you’re on a Mac, then Skim is a great choice. Mac OS X comes with Preview, which is an excellent choice by itself, Skim has a neat distinction. It lets you leave sticky notes and highlight text. Although Skim is designed for scientific papers, it’s also great for product manuals that most people find themselves downloading PDFs.
Evince is a good basic PDF reader for Linux. It’s part of the GNOME desktop, which is one of the most popular desktops out there on Linux. If you’re using Ubuntu, the most popular distro currently, you have this already. Evince aims to be simple viewer without all the bloat.
If you didn’t know this already, Google Docs lets you import PDF files into it. Even better, there’s a Firefox plug-in you can install to let you view PDF links in your browser, without your flow being broken by the need to launch an external app. If you’re using Chrome, you have a PDF reader built in.
If Skim’s annotation feature’s intrigue you, but you’re not using a Mac or want something that lives on the Web instead of on your computer, then check out Crocodoc. Crocodoc lets you upload documents and share them with the world, similar to Scribd, and lets you annotate them as well. It’s great that other people can share, but if you do use Crocodoc, make sure that what you’re uploading is yours to share. The only thing more annoying than PDFs is DMCA takedown notices.
A reader for Windows and Linux, Foxit is an alternative that’s also lighter than the standard Adobe Reader. On Windows, it has the ability to save unfinished forms and export to text, features that usually require paid plug-ins.
For better or for worse, PDFs will be around as long as some people are just too lazy to make real Web pages. These apps might make dealing with them a little easier for you.