Acrobat Properties Bar for Quick Access to Text Color Highlights

I recently received an email about using the Text Highlighter tool in Acrobat:

I enjoy your articles on using Adobe. One item I use very often is the Text Highlighter tool. I mark text in different colors depending on the substance of the text itself. To do so, I mark the text in question and then open the Properties Box and then select the color I need.

This can be very time consuming as I am constantly switching back and forth on the colors. I was wondering, is there is a faster way to select a different color?

Mark E. Schell
Senior Vice President and General Counsel
Unit Corporation

The Properties Bar can be used to quickly change text highlight colors.

At first I was stumped, but then I remembered the solution!

The Properties Bar in Acrobat which offers quick access to many tool options.

Read on to learn about using the Properties Bar to quickly change text highlight colors.

Showing the Properties Toolbar

To show the Properties Toolbar, try one of the following:

  • Right-click in a free area the Acrobat toolbar and choose Properties Bar
    Choose the Properties Bar
  • View—>Toolbars—> Properties Bar
  • Use a keyboard command
    WIN: Ctrl-E
    MAC: CMD-E

The Properties Bar appears:

Properties Toolbar

Not much to look at!

However, this toolbar is context sensitive. The Properties Bar will offer different options depending on what is selected in your Acrobat document.

Docking the Properties Bar

Since the Properties Bar lets you quickly get to many tool options, I recommend docking it for quick access:

Screen shot that shows how to dock the Properties Bar

Quit Acrobat to make the toolbar settings “sticky” for future Acrobat sessions.

Using the Properties Bar for Quick Access to Text Color Highlights

Once docked, the Properties Bar will show available options. To use it for quick text highlights, do this:

  1. Open a PDF document
  2. Choose View—>Toolbars—> Comment and Markup
  3. Select the Highlight Text tool
    Text Hightlight Tool
  4. The Properties Bar changes to reflect options available
    Properties Bar when Text Highlight tool is selected.
  5. Choose the color needed for the text highlight, then select text on the document.

This tip allows you to quickly use a lot of colors… maybe even too many!

Easily apply text highlight colors.

Use the Properties Bar

The Properties Bar allows you to quickly change the properties in Acrobat annotations, including a few which might not immediately come to mind…

  • Color, Style and Size of a font within a sticky note
    Change font and font color in a sticky note.
  • Font, size, color and style of text within a Text Box annotation
    Change font, size and style in an Acrobat Text Box annotation
  • Easily edit form field options such as font, border, etc.
  • Change bookmark colors and links

Once you dock the Properties Bar, many new options will quickly become apparent.

16 Responses to Acrobat Properties Bar for Quick Access to Text Color Highlights

  1. Robert Muns says:

    why can i not hightlight entire areas of a doc? I can highlight 99%, but it will not allow me to include the last line of the doc. Why? I have used the help tab and followed instructions but still cannot perform the function.

  2. Ebrahim says:

    Thank you for the great tip…happy

  3. I run Acrobat Pro (for Mac) 9.5.2 and I cannot get the text highlight tool to function at all. I have all the tools in the toolbar, can select the highlight tool and the color, but nothing happens when I try to select text to highlight. Zip! What am I doing wrong?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Sounds like you are trying to highlight text on a document which does not have selectable characters. Most often, that means you have a scanned document. Run OCR on it and try again.

  4. Maria Maunez says:

    Is there no way to pin the properties bar to have it available without having to Ctrl+E?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      In Acrobat 9, yes. In Acrobat X or XI, no. If you mainly use the TypeWriter (now called the Add Text Tool) to add text to a document permanently, I suggest you use the new Content editing tools.

  5. Ketty Bacallao says:

    Thanks for the advice. Very helpful.

  6. Scott R says:

    I’ve tried several times to dock my properties bar and I have followed the insetructions you provided, however, it will not Dock the way it should. I’ve docked tool bars in other programs the same way you describe, but Acrobat will not allow me to dock the properties bar. Is there a setting to allow docking that my be unchecked?

  7. Bob says:

    Thanks for the clues!!!!!!! This has been driving me crazy. I was able to find the Properties bar on my MAC by selecting View > Toolbars and then checking the Properties tool bar (about 1/s way down the ladder) and then placing the partial toolbar in my main tool bar.

  8. Sobia says:

    I cant dock the properties bar. Is its because I am highlighting a downloaded document? Well I need to read large books and highlight , and I need to do so in different colours. How do I do that?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      It isn’t possible to dock the Properties Bar in Acrobat X or XI. Sorry . . . I have yelled at our engineers about this.