Review: Free Opener can open almost any type of file you can think of

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Free Opener

    PCWorld Rating

    If you're on a limited system and a limited budget, Free Opener worth a try.

What do you use to open files? If you're in the majority, your answer would be "depends on the file." This is not the case with Free Opener. Free Opener claims to open over 80 different file formats—anything from Microsoft Office documents and PDF files, to image, video and music files, with many more in between. It may not open as many file types as Quick View Plus, and it's certainly more of a viewer than an editor, but you can't argue with the price. It's a good first stop for trying to view that mystery document.

Free Opener comes with a simple interface that includes four basic menus and one toolbar. I started off my testing with the types of documents I edit most often: DOC and DOCX. Despite the respectable editing options—color, formatting, highlighting, tables, etc.—the first thing I noticed was a mysterious lack of keyboard shortcuts. According to the program's menus, all the basic shortcuts should be available. They're mentioned in the menus next to their respective commands. In practice, important shortcuts such as Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V and Ctrl+Z failed to work, while others such as Ctrl+F, Ctrl+X, Ctrl+O, etc., worked without a hitch. The undo feature did not work from the menu either, and worked only when I used the toolbar button. Note that Free Opener will not prompt you to save your work if you close it without saving.

So far, the experience was surprisingly similar to Free Editor, a similar all-around tool. This continued through the available DOC editing options such as tables, formatting, highlights, and more, but that's where the similarities ended. As opposed to Free Editor, Free Opener has almost no spreadsheet editing capabilities, lacking support for functions or formatting of any kind, which cripples viewing as well. It includes only basic image editing features, and those are presented in a confusing and not-so-intuitive interface. Music and video files open without noticeable problems, and offer repeat and shuffle functions, although the volume on some videos was significantly lower than on my default player.

Which brings us to PDFs: This is the most celebrated format on the program's website, and true to form, Free Opener opened every PDF file I threw at it, and even presented an automatic table of contents on the left sidebar. Problems started when I tried using the table of contents for large documents. Crashing, not responding, or simply doing nothing were all common occurrences. It sometimes took manual page-flipping to remind Free Opener that more pages exist in the document, an action that can only be done my clicking icons on the toolbar or with the Pg Up/Pg Dn buttons. No scrolling.

After checking out the most common formats, I took Free Opener through its paces and opened the following files successfully: CSS (no syntax highlighting), HTML, JS (with syntax highlighting), MOV, PPT, PPTX, RAR, REG, SWF, XML, XPS, and ZIP. While I didn't try all 80+ supported formats, everything I tried worked, and I found nothing that was supported in name only.

Some basic image-editing features are supported, but using it can get confusing at times.

Free Opener delivered on its promises every time. Free Opener feels like an honest try to make our lives easier, and it truly does open a large number of formats. If you need to view multiple formats and can only install one program, Free Opener can be a lifesaver. It may not be a complete substitute for other programs, but for viewing purposes, it can definitely save you some money.

Note: The Download button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software. Free Opener comes with no less than four additional programs in its third-party InstallIQ installer. You can skip all these offers with one click, or review each one and choose to accept or decline.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    If you're on a limited system and a limited budget, Free Opener worth a try.

    Pros

    • Managed to open every tested format
    • Can open multiple file types in one light install

    Cons

    • Most formats have very basic editing options
    • Heavy on RAM
    • Crashes too often
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