Viewing PDFs

View PDFs in Read mode

When you’re reading a document, you can hide all the toolbars and task panes to maximize the viewing area on your screen.

The basic reading controls, such as page navigation and zoom, appear in a semi-transparent floating toolbar near the bottom of the window.

  • To open Read mode, choose View > Read Mode, or click the Read Mode button  in the upper-right corner of the toolbar.

  • To restore the work area to its previous view, choose View > Read Mode again. You can also click the close button in the floating toolbar.

Note: Read mode is the default viewing mode when you open a PDF in a web browser.
Read mode with semi-transparent floating toolbar

View PDFs in Full Screen mode

In Full Screen mode, only the document appears; the menu bar, toolbars, task panes, and window controls are hidden. A PDF creator can set a PDF to open in Full Screen mode, or you can set the view yourself. Full Screen mode is often used for presentations, sometimes with automatic page advancement and transitions.

The pointer remains active in Full Screen mode so that you can click links and open notes. There are two ways to advance through a PDF in Full Screen mode: You can use keyboard shortcuts for navigational and magnification commands, and you can set a Full Screen preference to display Full Screen navigation buttons that you click to change pages or exit Full Screen mode.

Set the Full Screen navigation bar preference

  1. In the Preferences dialog box under Categories, select Full Screen.
  2. Select Show Navigation Bar, then click OK.
  3. Select View > Full Screen Mode.

The Full Screen navigation bar contains Previous Page , Next Page , and Close Full Screen View  buttons. These buttons appear in the lower-left corner of the work area.

Read a document in Full Screen mode

If the Full Screen navigation bar is not shown, you can use keyboard shortcuts to navigate through a PDF.

Note: If you have two monitors installed, the Full Screen mode of a page sometimes appears on only one of the monitors. To page through the document, click the screen displaying the page in Full Screen mode.
  1. Choose View > Full Screen Mode.
  2. Do any of the following:
    • To go to the next page, press the Enter, Page Down, or Right Arrow key.

    • To go to the previous page, press Shift+Enter, Page Up, or the Left Arrow key.

  3. To close Full Screen mode, press Ctrl+L or Esc. (Escape Key Exits must be selected in the Full Screen preferences.)
To show a Full Screen tool  in the Common Tools toolbar, right-click the toolbar area and choose Page Display > Full Screen Mode. Then click the Full Screen tool to switch to Full Screen mode.

Change the PDF/A viewing mode

PDF/A is an ISO standard for long term archiving and preservation of electronic documents. Documents you scan to PDF are PDF/A-compliant. You can specify whether you want to view documents in this viewing mode.

When you open a PDF/A compliant document in PDF/A viewing mode, the document is opened in Read mode to prevent modification. A message is displayed in the document message bar. You will be unable to make changes and add annotations to the document. If you turn off PDF/A mode, you can edit the document.

  1. In the Preferences dialog box under Categories, select Documents.
  2. Choose an option for View Documents In PDF/A Mode: Never, or Only For PDF/A Documents.

    You can switch in or out of PDF/A viewing mode by changing this preference setting.

For a video on working with PDF/A files, see

Display PDFs in Line Weights view

The Line Weights view displays lines with the weights defined in the PDF. When Line Weights view is off, it applies a constant stroke width (1 pixel) to lines, regardless of zoom. When you print the document, the stroke will print at the true width.

 Choose View > Show/Hide > Rulers & Grids > Line Weights. To turn off Line Weights view, choose View > Show/Hide > Rulers & Grids > Line Weights again.
Note: You cannot turn off Line Weights view when viewing PDFs within a web browser.

Compare a revised PDF to an earlier version

Use the Compare Documents feature to show the differences between two versions of a PDF. You can customize many options for displaying the compare results. For a video on comparing PDFs, see

  1. Choose View > Compare Documents.
  2. Specify the two documents to compare. If one or both of the documents is in a PDF Portfolio, select the PDF Portfolio. Under Package Item, select the component PDF.
  3. As needed, specify the page ranges in the documents to compare in the First Page and Last Page boxes.
  4. Select the Document Description that best describes the documents you are comparing, and click OK.

    Once the two documents are analyzed, a results document appears with the Compare panel open. The new document is shown with annotations indicating the changes. The first page shows a summary of the comparison results.

  5. From the Compare panel, do any of the following:
    • To hide the annotations that display changes, click Hide Results.

    • To specify the display options for compare results, click Show Options. You can specify the type of changes to display, and the color scheme and opacity of the annotations. To return to the page thumbnails, click Hide Options.

    • To show each of the documents in its own window, from the options menu , choose Show Documents Tiled or Show Documents Side By Side. To synchronize the relevant pages while showing the documents in their own windows, from the options menu, choose Synchronize Pages.

    • Click a page thumbnail to go directly to that page. To change the size of the page thumbnails, from the options menu, choose Thumbnail Size > [option].

    • Drag the splitter bar at the bottom of the Compare panel up to show thumbnails of the old document. Click a thumbnail from the old document to open it in a new window.

Document Description options

Reports, Spreadsheets, Magazine Layouts
Compares the content as one continuous text body, from end to end.

Presentation Decks, Drawings Or Illustrations
Looks at each slide or page as a mini-document, and matches ones that are similar. Then compares the content of each matching document. Identifies documents that have moved, such as slides in presentation.

Scanned Documents
Creates an image capture of each scanned page and compares pixels. Looks at each scanned page and matches ones that are similar. Also identifies pages that are in a different order. This option is useful for comparing images or architectural drawings.

Compare Text Only
Use this option with any document type. This option is designed for comparing text in large documents (250 pages or more). This option also compares text between documents that have background artwork on each page, which slows processing.
  • With either the reports or presentation options selected, the Compare Text Only option identifies only the text differences between two documents.

  • With Scanned Documents selected, the text is compared separately from the graphics, and then the results are combined. In documents containing magazine advertisements that have text on top of background image art, a reflowed passage is compared in text-only mode. The artwork is compared separately in the background. The differences (both text and line art and images) are combined into a single results document.

Preferences for viewing PDFs

The Preferences dialog box defines a default page layout and customizes your application in many other ways. For viewing PDFs, examine the preferences options for Documents, General, Multimedia, and Page Display.

The preferences settings control how the application behaves whenever you use it; they are not associated with any particular PDF document.

Note: If you install any third-party plug-ins, set these preferences using the Third-Party Preferences menu item.

Documents preferences

Open Settings

Restore Last View Settings When Reopening Documents
Determines whether documents open automatically to the last viewed page within a work session.

Open Cross-document Links In Same Window
Closes the current document and opens the document being linked to in the same window, minimizing the number of windows open. If the document being linked to is already open in another window, the current document is not closed when you click a link to the open document. If you do not select this option, a new window opens each time you click a link to a different document.

Allow Layer State To Be Set By User Information
Allows the author of a layered PDF document to specify layer visibility based on user information.

Allow Documents To Hide The Menu Bar, Toolbars, And Window Controls
Allows the PDF to determine whether the menu bar, toolbar, and window controls are hidden when the PDF is opened.

Documents In Recently Used List
Sets the maximum number of documents listed in the File menu.

Save Settings

Automatically Save Document Changes To Temporary File Every _ Minutes
Determines how often Acrobat automatically saves changes to an open document.

Save As Optimizes For Fast Web View
Restructures a PDF document for page-at-a-time downloading from web servers.

PDF/A View Mode

View Documents In PDF/A Mode
Specifies when to use this viewing mode: Never, or Only For PDF/A Documents.

Hidden Information

Searches the PDF for items that may not be apparent, such as metadata, file attachments, comments, and hidden text and layers. The search results appear in a dialog box, and you can remove any type of item that appears there.

Remove Hidden Information When Closing Document
(Not selected by default.)

Remove Hidden Information When Sending Document By Email
(Not selected by default.)


Adjust Filename When Saving Applied Redaction Marks
Specifies a prefix or suffix to use when saving a file to which redaction marks have been applied.

Choose Localization For Search and Redact Patterns
Specifies which installed language version of Acrobat to use for the patterns. For example, if you installed both the English and German versions, then you can choose either language for the patterns. The Patterns option appears in the Search and Redaction dialog boxes.

Full Screen preferences

Full Screen Setup

Current Document Only
Specifies whether or not the display is limited to a single PDF.

Fill Screen With One Page At A Time
Sets the page view to the maximum screen coverage by a single page.

Alert When Document Requests Full Screen
Displays a message before going into Full Screen mode. Selecting this option overrides a previous selection of Do Not Show This Message Again in that message.

Which Monitor To Use
Specifies the monitor on which full-screen display appears (for users with multiple-monitor configurations).

Full Screen Navigation

Escape Key Exits
Lets you exit Full Screen mode by pressing the Esc key. If this option is not selected, you can exit by pressing Ctrl+L.

Show Navigation Bar
Shows a minimal navigation toolbar regardless of the document settings.

Left Click To Go Forward One Page; Right Click To Go Back One Page
Lets you page through an Adobe PDF document by clicking the mouse. You can also page through a document by pressing Return, Shift-Return (to go backward), or the arrow keys.

Loop After Last Page
Lets you page through a PDF document continuously, returning to the first page after the last. This option is typically used for setting up kiosk displays.

Advance Every _ Seconds
Specifies whether to advance automatically from page to page every set number of seconds. You can page through a document using mouse or keyboard commands even if automatic paging is selected.

Full Screen Appearance

Background Color
Specifies the window’s background color in Full Screen mode. You can select a color from the color palette to customize the background color.

Mouse Cursor
Specifies whether to show or hide the pointer when Full Screen mode is in operation.

Full Screen Transitions

Ignore All Transitions
Removes transition effects from presentations that you view in Full Screen mode.

Default Transition
Specifies the transition effect to display when you switch pages in Full Screen mode and no transition effect has been set for the document.

Determines the flow of the selected default transition on the screen, such as Down, Left, Horizontal, and so forth. The available options vary according to the transition. If no directional options affect the selected default transition, this option is not available.

Navigation Controls Direction
Mimics the user’s progress through the presentation, such as transitioning from top to bottom when the user proceeds to the next page and from bottom to top when the user backtracks to the previous page. Available only for transitions with directional options.

General preferences

Basic Tools

Use Single Key Accelerators To Access Tools
Enables you to select tools with a single keystroke. This option is unselected by default.

Create Links From URLs
Specifies whether links that weren’t created with Acrobat are automatically identified in the PDF document and become clickable links.

Make Hand Tool Select Text & Images
Enables the Hand tool to function as the Select tool when it hovers over text in an Adobe PDF.

Make Hand Tool Read Articles
Changes the appearance of the Hand tool pointer when over an article thread. Upon the first click, the article zooms to fill the document pane horizontally; subsequent clicks follow the thread of the article.

Make Hand Tool Use Mouse-wheel Zooming
Changes the action of the mouse wheel from scrolling to zooming.

Make Select Tool Select Images Before Text
Changes the order in which the Select tool selects.

Use Fixed Resolution For Snapshot Tool Images
Sets the resolution used to copy an image captured with the Snapshot tool.


Do Not Show Edit Warnings
Disables warning boxes that would normally appear when you delete items such as links, pages, page thumbnails, and bookmarks.

Reset All Warnings
Restores default settings for warnings.

Messages From Adobe

Show Me Messages When I Launch Acrobat
Allows in-product marketing messages from Adobe to appear in the Welcome Screen when you launch the application without a document open. Click a message to get information about features, updates, or online services, or to open an element in the application, such as a task pane. Deselect the option to prevent in-product marketing messages from appearing.
Note: Transactional messages, which facilitate the Adobe Online Service, cannot be turned off.

Application Startup

Show Splash Screen
Determines whether the application startup screen appears each time the application starts.

Use Only Certified Plug-Ins
Ensures that only Adobe-certified third-party plug-ins are loaded. The notation Currently in Certified Mode indicates either Yes or No depending on its status.

Check 2D Graphics Accelerator (Windows only)
(Appears only if your computer hardware supports 2D graphics acceleration.) When selected, allows hardware acceleration usage when the first document is opened. When deselected, hardware acceleration usage starts after the first document is opened. This option can slow startup time, so it is unselected by default.
Note: This option is available only when the option Use 2D Graphics Acceleration in the Page Display preferences is selected.

Select Default PDF Handler (Windows only)
Specifies which PDF application is used to open PDFs in a web browser or the Windows shell (by double-clicking a PDF on the desktop, for example). This setting applies if you have multiple versions of Acrobat or Adobe Reader or both installed on your computer. For example, if you choose Reader X, PDFs open in Protected Mode--a secure, confined environment for viewing PDFs.

Page Display preferences

Default Layout And Zoom

Page Layout
Sets the page layout used for scrolling when you first open a document. The default setting is Automatic. The Page Layout setting in File > Properties > Initial View overrides this value.

Sets the magnification level for PDF documents when they are first opened. The default setting is Automatic. The Magnification setting in File > Properties > Initial View overrides this value.

Note: Two conditions can affect page layout and zoom. 1) Someone has already set an individual PDF to a different intial view in File > Properties. 2) You have the option Restore Last View Settings When Reopening Documents selected in Edit > Preferences > Document category.


Use System Setting
Uses the system settings for monitor resolution.

Custom Resolution
Sets the monitor resolution.


Smooth Text
Specifies the type of text-smoothing to apply.

Smooth Line Art
Applies smoothing to remove abrupt angles in lines.

Smooth Images
Applies smoothing to minimize abrupt changes in images.

Use Local Fonts
Specifies whether the application uses or ignores local fonts installed on your system. When deselected, substitute fonts are used for any font not embedded in the PDF. If a font cannot be substituted, the text appears as bullets and an error message appears.

Enhance Thin Lines
When selected, clarifies thin lines in the display to make them more visible.

Use Page Cache
Places the next page in a buffer before the current page is viewed to reduce the time required to page through a document.

Use 2D Graphics Acceleration (Windows only)
(Appears only if your computer hardware supports 2D graphics acceleration.) Speeds up zooming, scrolling, and redrawing of page content, and speeds the rendering and manipulation of 2D PDF content. This option is selected by default.
Note: If this option is not available in the Page Display preferences, you may need to update your GPU card driver to enable this hardware feature. Contact your card vendor or computer manufacturer for an updated driver.

Page Content And Information

Show Large Images
Displays large images. If your system is slow to display image-intensive pages, deselect this option.

Use Smooth Zooming (Windows only)
When deselected, turns off animation effects, which improves performance.

Show Art, Trim, & Bleed Boxes
Displays any art, trim, or bleed boxes defined for a document.

Show Transparency Grid
Displays the grid behind transparent objects.

Use Logical Page Numbers
Enables the Number Pages command for matching the position of the page in the PDF to the number printed on the page. A page number, followed by the page position in parentheses, appears in the Page Navigation toolbar and in the Go To Page and Print dialog boxes. For example, i (1 of 1) if the printed number of the first page is i. If this option is not selected, pages are numbered with arabic numbers starting at 1. Selecting this option helps prevent unexpected behavior when clicking Back or Go Back in your web browser.

Always Show Document Page Size
Displays the page measurements beside the horizontal scroll bar.

Use Overprint Preview
Specifies whether Overprint Preview mode is on only for PDF/X files, never on, always on, or set automatically. When set to Automatic, if a document contains overprints, then Overprint Preview mode is activated. The Overprint Preview mode lets you see (on-screen) the effects of ink aliasing in the printed output. For example, a printer or service provider could create an ink alias if a document contains two similar spot colors and only one is required.

Reference XObjects View Mode

Show Reference XObject Targets
Specifies the type of documents in which reference XObjects can be viewed.

Location Of Referenced Files
(Optional) Specifies a location for the referenced documents.