PDF Readers-Their Care and Feeding

Have you noticed that there is a weird relationship between the Adobe PDF Reader version number and the amount of minutes that it takes to load?
Well actually it probably is. But if you are bored to death waiting for the bloody thing to load, you may wish to consider some of the following options.

Lets start with Foxit Software.
Here is a list of some of the nifty advantages of Foxit Reader 2.0:

  • It’s tiny. The download size of Foxit Reader is only 1.5 M which compared to Acrobat Reader’s 20+ Meg and “weekly updates” seems pretty cool to me.
  • It’s Fast. When you run Foxit Reader, it just launches instantly, no annoying splash window displaying company logo, no author names, no nonsense… it just runs.
  • Annotation tool: Have you ever wished to annotate (or comment on) a PDF document when you are reading it? Foxit Reader 2.0 allows you to draw graphics, highlight text, type text and make notes on a PDF document and then print out or save the annotated document.
  • Text converter: You can convert a PDF document into a simple text file. Brilliant.

To make sense of what you get for free and what you need to pay for read the hype below and have a look on their website.

Foxit Reader 2.0 itself is free. As to add-ons, the critical add-ons are free while advanced add-ons are non-free. For example, you can use the following functions for free:

* View or print PDF document
* Fill out PDF forms and save them
* View PDF as text
* Critical add-ons, such as UI language package, JPEG2000/JBIG decoder, CJK package, GDI+ for early Windows version, etc

The followings are several examples of non-free, advanced add-ons:

* Pro Pack is not free. It unlocks functions to save annotation, save a PDF document as a text file, copy text from text viewer. Actually without Pro Pack, you are still able to annotate a PDF document and print it out. However when you save the annotated document, it will be stamped with an evaluation mark on the top-right corner of the annotated pages. If you purchase a Pro Pack add-on, then there will be no evaluation mark.
* Foxit PDF Creator, which allows you to convert non-PDF file into PDF file, is non-free.
* Foxit PDF Editor, which allows you to modify content of a PDF file, is non-free.

They also have versions for Linux and Pocket PC.

Now if you want to stay with the Adobe product … O’Reilly Publishing has a book called PDF hacks

Here is the hype…

PDF Hacks is ideal for anyone who works with PDF on a regular basis. Learn how to create PDF documents that are far more powerful than simple representations of paper pages. Hacks cover the full range of PDF functionality, including generating, manipulating, annotating, and consuming PDF information. Far more than another guide to Adobe Acrobat, the book covers a variety of readily available tools for generating, deploying, and editing PDF.

and whats really neat is that they have put a copy of the SpeedUp Chapter up on their website, ironically it’s available as a PDF.

Here’s a few notes I have collected on how to make Adobe Reader load much faster:

  1. Go to C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat #\Reader (replace C: with whatever letter your hard drive is. (The # is the number of whatever version you have installed).
  2. Create a new folder called plug_ins_disabled.
  3. Move all files from the plug_ins folder to the plug_ins_disabled folder except for these three: EWH32.api, printme.api, and search.api which should remain inside the plug_ins folder.

Now you’re set to go! Enjoy the speed increase.

Additionally, you can turn off the splash screen by going to Edit -> Preferences -> Startup and unchecking Display splash screen.

Version 7 installs a quickstart item in your Start folder. This can be a real annoyance and isn’t really necessary, so to grab your RAM remove the “Adobe Reader Speed Launch” from Start->All Programs->Startup.

Now, if you have a small banner ad in the top right corner, just go to Edit->Preferences->Startup and uncheck the item labeled “Show messages and automatically update”.

If you have a small Yahoo button on the toolbar, you can remove it by right-clicking and unchecking the “Search the Internet” item.

When you open a PDF link in your browser, Acroread.exe stays in memory. You can kill the process using taskmanager or start and exit the full app to pull it from memory. Too much of a pain? I agree. Start Acrobat Reader, go to Edit->Preferences->Internet and uncheck the box labeled “Display PDF in browser”. Much simpler.

Anything else out there that I missed? Leave a comment.

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