Tips & Tricks

Opening Acrobat Faster II

October 22, 2002


The all or nothing approach of our recent tip on opening Acrobat faster was, as we said, only really useful when you wanted to read or view a PDF file -- the main problem with it was that your manipulation of the PDF became impossible because it turned Acrobat into little more than an Acrobat Reader-like application. So what if you want to open Acrobat faster but still have access to your favorite tools?

It's possible by getting into the Plug-ins folder and working out which ones you don't want to load. Because Acrobat is such a massive application, with so many uses, it's more than likely that there are plug-ins sitting there that you will never use. A simple example of a feature I never use is the movie plug-in. Every time I open Acrobat, this plug-in is loaded, yet I never use it.

Examining Acrobat's plug-ins

To find out info about the plug-ins Acrobat uses, go to Help > About Adobe Acrobat Plug-ins. This will open the dialog that allows you to establish the functions of each plug-in. You need to be wary of plug-ins that other plug-ins are dependent on -- an example is the Forms plug-in (AcroForm.api) -- many plug-ins you may not expect are dependent on it. The dialog below has a field that shows you what plug-ins are dependent on others.

Moving plug-ins

The standard location for the plug-ins is \Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 5.0\Acrobat\Plug_ins. Once you pick the plug-ins you would like to move aside, you'll be copying them to another folder setup just for the purpose at \Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 5.0\Acrobat\Optional.

For the sake of this example, let's say that we never use certain functionality of Acrobat like movies, spelling, digital signatures and emailing PDFs. If we can work out which plug-ins provide these functions quickly. We have opened the About Adobe Acrobat Plug-ins (above) window and established that the following four plug-ins are the ones we need to remove:

  1. DigSig.api
  2. SendMail.api
  3. Movie.api (in the Movie folder)
  4. Spelling.api (in the Spelling folder)

Grab the files and simply drag them into the \Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 5.0\Acrobat\Optional folder. Looking at this example visually (below), you can notice how certain toolbar options become unavailable when the plug-in is moved.

The unchanged plug-ins folder, with a fully loaded Acrobat in the background

The streamlined plug-ins folder shows less plug-ins. Looking closely at Acrobat reveals that several toolbar options have disappeared.
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