Posts tagged "protected"

Adobe Reader cannot open Protected Mode due to a problem with your system configuration.


If you are starting Adobe Reader and have Protected Mode enabled, you may encounter the following dialog:

“Adobe Reader cannot open in Protected Mode due to a problem with your system configuration. Would you like to open Adobe Reader with Protected Mode disabled?”


This dialog appears when protected mode cannot be started due to environmental settings on your computer.  It can occur due to anti-virus software conflicts, and/or conflicts with accessibility tools or smart card software and drivers.


1. Unsupported configurations:

  • Installing Reader on a mapped network drive.
  • Running Reader on WinXP when the OS is installed in a public folder.
  • Launching Reader in XP-compatible mode on Vista and Win7.
  • Launching Reader by right clicking AcroRd32.exe and choosing Run As.
  • Using PKCS#11 smart cards in signature workflows. Some cards can work in the presence of custom protected mode policies. For a workaround, see below.
  • Collaborating in real time using the Collaborate Live feature.
  • Certain configurations of anti-virus software that have not yet white-listed AcroRd32.exe. See Anti-virus software conflicts below.
  • JS-invoked processes: Launching a process through JavaScript is not allowed with Protected Mode enabled.

2. Antivirus software conflicts:

By default, Adobe Reader X runs in Protected Mode. In certain situations Reader experiences compatibility issues with anti-virus software when that software intercepts some system calls for the Reader sandbox. In these cases, Reader could fail to open or crash after displaying an incompatible-configuration dialog.

For example, Protected Mode is known to be incompatible with:

  • Some Symantec Endpoint Protection configurations. Adobe recommends that users update to Symantec Endpoint Protection 11.0 RU6 MP2 or higher.
  • McAfee VirusScan Enterprise for certain actions in Reader. Known actions include the following:
    • Clicking Help or a Weblink from an embedded Flash widget such as a Portfolio navigator (Fixed 10.1).
    • Launching of some IME tools. Note: Disabling Buffer Overflow Protection can provide a workaround for many McAfee users.
    • Reader sometimes removes a user’s cached credentials when signing out of which could be an issue for a multiuser machine. Fixed 10.1.2 with MVE 8.8.

Adobe is working with anti-virus companies to resolve these problems.

3. Accessibility

For XP only: Accessibility features sometimes doesn’t work. The Read Out Loud feature is unsupported. Therefore, screen readers such as JAWS, Windows Eyes, and Windows Narrator aren’t always able to read PDF content. Much of the Accessibility menus involving things like quick check, change Reading options are removed. Keyboard navigation is not implemented.

Note: When a screen reader like JAWS, Window-Eyes, or Narrator is running when Reader is started for the first time on XP, Protected Mode is disabled. On Vista and Windows 7, screen readers do work normally.

4. P11 smart card workaround

The installation of some smart cards doesn’t work for Reader X users when in Protected Mode. Because Protected Mode sandboxes certain processes that make system calls, smart card installation can fail or result in the “unsupported configuration” dialog appearing. However, a simple workaround is available. Install the smart card software with Protected Mode turned off as follows:

  • Disable Protected Mode by going to Edit > Preferences > General and deselecting Enable Protected Mode at startup
  • Restart Reader
  • Install the smart card software according to the provider’s instructions
  • Re-enable Protected Mode
  • Restart Reader

5. Windows Permissions

You should also check the permissions on the Adobe Reader installation folder.  Protected mode will only work on Windows when the group “BuiltIn\Users” has the following permissions on the Reader installation folder (for a default installation C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Reader 10.0):

  • Read & execute
  • List folder contents
  • Read

Further Information

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Acrobat/Reader 8+: how to disable tabbing for read-only fields


If you have upgraded from Adobe Reader 7 to a later version and your forms contain read-only fields, you may have noticed that you can now tab into those fields in Reader 8+.  This was not possible in Reader 7 and earlier.


As a workaround, change the access property value for the fields you want to remove from the tabbing order from “readOnly” to “protected” in your XDP forms. Fields marked as “protected” do not participate in the tabbing order.

Alternately, write a script to change the access property from “readOnly” to “protected” in your XDP XML source code.

Additional Information

The tabbing feature has been documented for read-only fields since Designer 7.1 but has only been enforced in Acrobat/Reader since version 8. The necessity for tabbing into read-only fields comes from the Accessibility standards. Screen readers must be able to read the read only fields on the page, and screen readers work off the tabbing order.

This is the correct behaviour for read-only fields.

The “protected” option is not available in Designer 7.1 but is available in later versions. If you require this option in Designer 7.1, contact Adobe support to request a patch for Designer (you need a valid M&S contract to request this patch).

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