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Viewing and Printing PDF Files with Adobe Acrobat

| Downloading | Installing | Configuring | Using | Uninstalling |


Portable Document Format (PDF) is an increasingly popular way for publishers to distribute documents electronically so that consumers can print them out on their own computers. It was developed as a way to view and print documents so that the final output, whether on screen or on paper, would look the same regardless of what type of computer or operating system you happen to be using. Unlike what you see in Web browsers, it gives the publisher precise control over typography and graphics.
Adobe Acrobat Reader is a free program that allows you to view and print documents in Portable Document Format. You can download the Acrobat Reader from Adobe's website, or you might receive it on CD-ROM, included with other software you've purchased, such as Adobe Photoshop or PageMaker.
Once you've installed the Acrobat Reader on your system, you can use it as a stand-alone program to view or print PDF files, and you can set it up to work as a plug-in within your Web browser.
If you're unfamiliar with the process of downloading and installing software, it would probably be a good idea to print this page.

Downloading the Acrobat Reader

To download the latest version of the Acrobat Reader for your particular computer system, go to Adobe's download page and follow the directions for starting the download. If your browser asks whether to "run or save" the download file, choose save, and specify a temporary directory on your hard drive, such as "c:\temp" or "c:\windows\temp". Note the name of the file and the directory where it's being saved. You'll need 4 or 5 megabytes of free space to receive the download and actually install the program.
If you already have the Acrobat Reader installed on your computer and you want to find out its version number to see if you have the latest version,
  • Run the Acrobat Reader
  • Click on the word "Help" in the program's menu bar
  • Click on "About Acrobat Reader" in the list that drops down
The resulting "About box" will display the version number.

Installing the Acrobat Reader

Before starting the installation process, put the file you downloaded into a directory by itself. This will help make the installation process much smoother. If you're using Windows 3.1 or Windows 95, close any other programs that may be running, such as word processors or File Manager or Norton Utilities. You don't want another program to disrupt the installation process.
Begin the installation process by running the program you downloaded. In Windows 3.1, click on "File" in Program Manager's menu bar, then on the word "Run" in the list that drops down.
In Windows 95, click on the "Start" button, then on the word "Run" in the list that pops up.
Use the dialog box to navigate to the directory that contains the file you downloaded, then select the file and click "OK" until the program runs. The installation process will probably run to completion without your having to make any choices or type in anything.

Configuring your Web browser

The latest versions of Acrobat Reader (3.01) will probably install themselves automatically as plug-ins in your Web browser.
If you use a Netscape browser, you can see how the Acrobat Reader has been installed by clicking on the word "Options" in Netscape's menu bar, then on "General Preferences" in the drop-down list. Next, in the dialog box that opens up, click on the tab for "Helpers." Scroll down the list until you see a line that begins "Application/pdf".
If "Application/pdf" is not in the list, then you'll need to install it manually. Click on the button "Create new type" and enter as the type "application" and "pdf" as the sub-type. The file extension will also be "pdf". For "Action" click on the option "Save to disk." You can type in the full path and program name or use the "Browse" button to pick the program name (which will usually be "c:\acroread\acrord16.exe" or "c:\acroread\acrord32.exe").
You may not like for the Acrobat Reader to automatically launch itself when you download PDF files (I certainly don't — JA). If so, you have a problem: no matter what you click on in the Helpers folder, Acrobat will reconfigure itself the way Adobe wants it to every time you launch Netscape. This is very annoying, especially since the Acrobat installer didn't ask you if it was OK to do this, and nothing in the documenation tells how to undo it.
Well, here's how: use Windows' File Manager or Windows Explorer to find the "Plugins" directory for Netscape and delete the file named "nppdf16.dll" or "nppdf32.dll" (whichever is on your system). Now you can run Netscape and go into its "Options |General Preferences | Helpers" folder, and find the "Application/pdf" line. Click on the "Application/pdf" line, then click on either "Save to disk" or "Unknown" before clicking on "OK" to close the box and save your changes.

Using Acrobat Reader to view and print UF/IFAS publications

First, before downloading any of the UF/IFAS PDF documents, it would be a good idea to create a separate directory for them on your hard disk. Save them into that directory when you download them. Unfortunately, the files have fairly meaningless names, such as "mg01500.pdf", so it's a good idea to write down the file name and document title while the download is taking place (if you're using a modem, the downloads can take several minutes per file).
If you use a modem to connect to the Web, it will be better to download the documents you want, then close your Internet connection before trying to print them.
To print a document, run Acrobat Reader, then use the "File | Open" dialog box to select the file. Acrobat Reader will display the file. It's a good idea to look at the entire document on-screen before trying to print it, to make sure Acrobat can handle it correctly. Click on "File" and "Print" to begin printing the document.
Unfortunately, depending on the document itself and quirks of your computer and printer, some of the documents will not print flawlessly all the way through. If the printing process "chokes" somewhere in the middle of page 13, for example, you'll need to use the "File | Print" dialog box to print page 13 by itself. If page 13 prints OK by itself, then you can tell Acrobat to print the rest of the document from page 14 to the end. Eventually, you can get the entire document printed. And it's still a lot easier and cheaper and faster than ordering the same document by mail.

It's easy to lose track of PDF files when you download them; they may have meaningless names, and you may not see what directory they're going into. All you know is you downloaded a PDF file, now where is it?
If you're using a Windows-based PC, you can do a search in File Manager or Windows Explorer by clicking on the word "File" in the menu bar, then on "Search" in the drop-down menu. Enter "*.pdf" (without the quotes) as the string to search for, "C:\" for where to begin the search, and have it search all subdirectories. This will (eventually) give you a list of all the PDF files on your C: drive. If you want to search a different drive, enter its drive letter in place of the "C" in "C:\".
Another way to search for PDF files on PC-compatibles is to bring up an MS-DOS prompt. Assuming you want to search the C: drive, enter the following sequence of commands at the DOS prompt:
        DIR *.PDF /S /B /O:N /P

This will display the names and locations of the PDF files on your C: drive a screenful at a time. If you want to print the list for later reference, enter the command
        DIR *.PDF /S /B /O:N > PRN

(You may need to manually eject the page for your printer to actually print the list.)

Uninstalling the Acrobat Reader

There are various reasons you may want to remove the Acrobat Reader from your computer — it isn't working correctly and you want to reinstall it, you want to install a newer version, or you just don't want to use it anymore. Most people will simply find the directory that contains the Acrobat Reader programs and delete the entire directory. That will free up some hard disk space, but unfortunately it won't undo all the things that take place when you installed Acrobat.
Acrobat Reader, like many other programs, puts files into the Windows directory and modifies several Windows system files at the time it's installed. Merely deleting the Acrobat directory won't affect these other changes, and so your computer will still think it has Acrobat installed. To thoroughly uninstall Acrobat Reader, you need to use one of those files the installation process placed in your C:\WINDOWS directory.
If you're using Windows 3.1, click on the word "File" in Program Manager's menu bar, then on "Run" in the drop-down menu. Enter
in the "Command line:" box, and click on the "OK" button.
If you're using Windows 95 or 98, click on the "Start" button, then on "Run" in the pop-up menu. Enter
in the "Command line:" box, and click on the "OK" button.
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