Customizing Acrobat X Common Tools

Whenever I get a chance to show Acrobat X in person, the first thing I do is show how to customize the interface.

If you’ve used Acrobat X for some time, you probably have already discovered how to use QuickTools to add your favorite functions to the toolbar. I wrote about this previously in my article Quick Access to Frequently Used Stamps.

Another area of Acrobat that may be customized are the Common Tools. The Common Tools include all of the page navigation and other tools:

In this article, I’ll show you how to customize Acrobat’s Common Tools and answer these questions:

  • How do I show the First Page and Last Page buttons on my Acrobat X toolbar?
  • Where did the Previous View and Next View buttons go?
  • How do I add the Find tool to Reader or Acrobat?
  • Where is the Magnifying Glass (Zoom) tool in Acrobat X?


Just a Right Click Away . . .

The Common Toolbar is customized using a menu.

The easiest way to access the menu is to hover over the Common Toolbar, and right-click (Command-Click on the Mac):

Each of the top menus (Rotate View, Page Navigation, Page Display, Select & Zoom, File, Edit) control which icons will appear on the toolbar..

Page Navigation Tools

By default, the Page Navigation toolbar includes a Previous Page and Next Page tool:
Hidden in this section are several other very useful tools which I always enable:

These extra tools such as the First Page, Last Page and Previous and Next View buttons allow you to more quickly move between pages and views.

To enable all of these tools, follow the illustration below:

Page Display Tools

I rarely change the defaults here, but I will describe Acrobat’s default behavior which, I think, is interesting.

In most cases, Acrobat behaves perfectly. For example, when you are looking at a letter-size page full width, scrolling is continuous as in your word processing program. However, when you are looking at an entire page, Acrobat snaps scrolling from page to page.

Of course, you have options . . . if you want scroll documents in Fit Page mode, you certainly can. Want to try some of these different options?

  1. Right-click on the Common Toolbar
  2. Choose Page Display
  3. Choose Show all Page Display Tools

You can always choose the Reset option for the Page Display toolbar if you don’t like the results.

Marquee Zoom ToolSelect and Zoom Tools

Zoom in, Zoom out . . . these are operations you may do frequently in Acrobat, so it makes sense to put tools up front where you can find them.

I like to enable the Marquee Zoom tool, also known as the Magnifying Glass tool.

The Marquee Zoom tool allows you to draw a rectangle surrounding the area in which you are interested, then have the screen zoom in to just the area selected.

You can also click once on the Marquee Zoom tool on the page and Acrobat will zoom in via 25% increments. Hold down CTRL and click to zoom out in 25% increments.

To add in the Marquee Zoom tool:

  1. Right-click on the Common Toolbar
  2. Choose Select and Zoom
  3. Enable the Marquee Zoom tool

File Menu Tools

By default, all of the File Menu tools are on in Acrobat and you probably won’t want to change them. These tools are:

  • Open
  • Save
  • Print
  • Share

One note about Share . . . by default, Acrobat is configured to use the Share Pane so you can quickly send documents via Adobe’s SendNow Service which is a convenient way to send large files. As good as SendNow is, I don’t use it nearly as much as good old email.

To tell Acrobat not to use the Share Pane, choose Edit>Preferences and go to the Online section. Once there, turn off “Use Share Pane when sending Email Attachment”.

Edit Menu Tools

The Common Toolbar Edit tools in Acrobat offer quick access to three tools which are not on by default, but that you may find very helpful.

  • Take SnapshotThe Snapshot Tool captures to the clipboard either:
    – The visible portion of a PDF page
    – Part of a PDF pageI’ve written about the Snapshot Tool previously in my article Adding a Thumbnail of a PDF Page to a PowerPoint presentation.
  • Find (CTRL-F)
    Search for single instances of a word in a PDF
  • Advanced Search (CTRL-Shift-F)
    Find and display all of instances of a word in PDF. Very useful for case analysis.

Of these three, I only turn on the Snapshot tool by default since it doesn’t have a keyboard equivalent.

Still, I’ve heard from many legal pros that simply – must – have – Find – on – the – toolbar.

I hear you! Here’s how to add the Find tool to the Acrobat toolbar:

  1. Right-click on the Common Toolbar
  2. Choose Edit
  3. Enable the Find tool

In the screen shot below, I’ve marked Take Snapshot (A) and Find (B):

Oops! How do I set it all back to the defaults?

Acrobat allows you to quickly and easily reset:

  • An Individual toolbar
  • All of the Common tools

Right-click on the Common toolbar, then choose any of the toolbar sections.

For example, to reset all of your Common tools, Select (A).

To resent only the Select and Zoom tools, Select (B).

41 Responses to Customizing Acrobat X Common Tools

  1. Very very good blog post, it is straightforward and informative. No nonsense blog post. Brilliant, doc – Keep It Up

  2. James Haughey says:

    Looking for some clarification on PDF/A creation. On the Adobe website it clearly states that you cannot create or validate a PDF/A with Acrobat X standard. This contradicts a recent seminar you did in which you state you can!

    Which is correct? Thanks in advance – James

    • Rick Borstein says:

      You can create PDF/A with Acrobat Standard. You cannot validate PDF/A with Acrobat Standard.

  3. Syd says:

    no wonder where my rotate icon went. have been using the right click menu until now. thanks 🙂

  4. Kyle says:

    I just had Adobe X installed on my computer (Windows 7) yesterday. Although I’m not crazy about many of the new features, I’ve edited the toolbars with the tools I use the most and will get used to everything else. My big problem is this: EVERY time I open a file, I have 4 “floating toolbars” that open and have to be closed manually: Properties, File, Select & Zoom, and Comment & Markup. I’ve read through your prior blog and understand that the floating Properties toolbar CANNOT be docked or removed. Fine. I can get fast at hitting Ctrl+E every single time I open a pdf. However, there is no keystroke shortcut for the the floating File, Select & Zoom, and Comment & Markup toolbars and it is INCREDIBLY inefficient to close them every single time. (Plus, I already have most of these tools docked in the fixed toolbars.) Is there a way to stop these floating toolbars from opening every time I open as pdf?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      I’ve only seen this one time before and it was a result of bad packaging by the company IT department. If your company set up Acrobat 9 to open some default toolbars and simply updated their package, it will trigger legacy code in Acrobat that causes this issue. Have your IT create a new package that is not based on their previous package.

      • Jesse Lewis says:

        The same thing is happening on a couple of PCs at my firm – Windows 7, Adobe X – and, since I AM the IT department, I can definitely say it has nothing to do with packaging. Adobe is just installed on each system with no special frills.

        It is absolutely maddening to deal with this little popup tools and have partners asking me to fix something that isn’t fixable due to bad programming choices by Adobe.

        • Rick Borstein says:

          That is really weird. I will contact you separately.

          • Mario says:

            How can i remove the floating toolbars.

            EVERY time our staff open a file, we have 4 “floating toolbars” that open and have to be closed manually: Properties, File, Select & Zoom, and Comment & Markup.

            This is a big problem for 20 of our staff that we just upgraded to Adobe 10.1.4

            Please let me know the FIX ASAP


          • Rick Borstein says:

            That is really odd and I have only heard about this issue from a couple of customers, usually with an enterprise installation. I think the issue has to do with various areas of the registry being locked down. Have your IT folks contact Adobe support.

  5. Laura Noble says:

    Does anyone know how to install the Dynamic Stamps folder when you DONT have this file
    /Users/USERNAME/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Acrobat/9.0_x86/Stamps.

    I searched everywhere in Library/application Support/Adobe/Acrobat and I do not have a “9.0” file or a “stamps file.

    I have Adobe 9.0 pro and a Mac Lion operating system. Any suggestions are welcome!

    • Rick Borstein says:

      You’ll need to create a regular stamp first, I think. That path looks wrong to me.

  6. Amy says:

    When bates stamping a document, do you know how to prevent the program from centering the data itself?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      The header/footer location determines how the text will be aligned. Left h/f will always align left, center will center, and right will align right.

  7. Steve Bosses says:

    This entire blog assumes that when you open a pdf document there is a tool bar at the top. Unfortunately, I do mot have a tool bar at the top so I cannot save.

  8. Cynthia Mott says:

    Once I have edited my toolbars like I want them – where are they saved so I can save them for the next time I get my laptop imaged? Is there a function like in Office 2010 where you can import/export your toolbars? Love your blog and webinars. You are the first place I go to when I have questions.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Unfortunately, there is not a way to import or export toolbars. Technical IT Admins may populate the buttons and quicktools via the registry and push them out to PC clients.

  9. Is there any way to get the “Find” window to show up in the tool bar instead of floating on the page? I just changed computers that had Adobe Acrobat Pro 8 which had the Find window as part of the toolbar to Adobe Acrobat Pro X. I spend a lot of time searching for numbers in PDF files and would like to have the window not float in front of the document. The tool bar has more than enough room in it, but while the window floats it obscures part of the document.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Unfortunately, no. You can slide it right and left however. Alternately, you can use Full Acrobat Search (Shift-CTRL-F).

  10. Jordan Anderson says:

    Is there any way to take a snapshot of one PDF and paste the information into another PDF?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Yes. Use the Snapshot tool to take a picture of one PDF. Switch to the other PDF and choose the Stamp Tool, then choose Paste Clipboard Image as Stamp.

  11. N says:

    I have Mac running Lion. I have Adobe Acrobat Pro 9. I downloaded the trial version of XI a few minutes ago. The first 2 things I am frustrated about is how to get the properties toolbar to dock rather than float (I want it all the time) and how do I get the two-pages side-by-side view (I need that a lot). So far, therefore, this version is worse than 9. (I skipped version X because I tried it out too, and it was also inferior). The only reason I am interested in “upgrading” would be to be able to have Acrobat Pro be able to attach PDFs to emails in Outlook (I was using Entourage till a few days ago, everything worked great, our IT people forced me to “upgrade” to Outlook, now I can’t attach PDFs to emails from within Acrobat Pro. But I am still not interested in “upgrading” to XI if I can’t get solutions to the 2 problems I mentioned above. It seems like each new version of everything gets worse these days and an upgrade is a downgrade in reality.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Unfortunately, you can’t get the Properties toolbar to dock. I have received lots of feedback about this and I was not happy that our engineers didn’t get to this. (OK, really mad to be truthful). That said, in my user survey, about 40% of users use Properties to add text to a document and that is easy to do directly using the new Add Text tool. On the other topic, just right click on the toolbar and choose Page Display, then choose the view you want to have in the toolbar

  12. N says:

    By the way, I can see the 2 pages side by side when I go in the View/Page Display menus but I really need to get the 2 pages side by side ICON onto the toolbar so I could quickly click it and not have to go digging deep into menus every time I need to switch back to that view.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      You can. Right click on the toolbar and choose Page Display, then choose the view you want to have in the toolbar.

  13. DeAnn says:

    I am Using the Adobe Reader Xl and want my Find feature to be permananetly defaulted, so the search box comes up everytime. Is there a way to do this? I sure hope so because that was one of the best features of the previous version.


    • Rick Borstein says:

      Unfortunately, you cannot default the find field to on. Instead, type Control or Command-F to bring it up. That will immediately bring the Find window and bring focus to the find field. It’s probably about as fast and clicking in it and typing.

  14. iwin online says:

    I’m waiting for the new customization wizard too… i hope they’ll release it soon.

    Strange philosophy to release a new software without the needed tools for deployment, if you wouldn’t have the monopoly status about the hole pdf thing i’d switch the software in a second.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      I hear you about the timing. However, before we test the cust wizard, we need final software from the Acrobat engineering team. Usually, we have it out within 2-6 weeks after the new product ships.

  15. Don says:

    I am very used to Acrobat 9; based on how changes have been made in Reader X, I dread upgrading to Acrobat X. New users may like “X” to be able to learn faster, but experienced users are losing a lot of productivity as the comments above atest.

    I simply can’t find how to make the “Sticky Note” and “Highlight Text” icons to show on the main toolbars in Reader X. They have to be called up on a second-level bar. I want ALL tools to show up on my desktop as my personal default as Acrobat 9 can do. That way ALL my tools are immediately available without looking for them, and I can click “F8” anytime I want to hide all my tools, and just toggle “F8” once again to have them all return in view again. How to accomplish this??!!

    This is a major productivity glitch!

    • Rick Borstein says:

      The Sticky Note and Highlight tools are already on the main toolbar in Reader XI. However, I TOTALLY agree with you that there should be a way to customize the QuickTool like you can do in Acrobat.

  16. Scott Noddin says:

    Hi Rick,

    I am using enterprise version of Adobe 10. Has the above issue about the floating toolbars that won’t go away been resolved?



    • Rick Borstein says:

      This is a weird issue that Adobe has not been able to reproduce. If you want me to get Adobe support involved, let me know.

  17. Mandy Bridges says:

    I still cannot figure out how to get the tools I want on my toolbar. I right-clicked and checked the “show all” areas but how do I get the actual tool on my toolbar. Is another toolbar supposed to open? If so, it doesn’t. I want the rotate tools on my regular toolbar. Please help.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Right-click on any tool in Acrobat X and choose Add to Quick Tools. In Acrobat XI, there is a customize workspace option.

  18. Cori says:

    So am I reading correctly that the properites tool bar can not be docked? (adobe pro)

    • Rick Borstein says:

      No, it can’t and I have brought this to our engineers multiple times! I wish it could be.

  19. Keith says:

    I just upgraded from Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro to Adobe CS6. On Acrobat 9 Pro, the find tool box did not propelled to different window and but stationed with other command tools bars. Can I configure Acrobat XI Pro find tool command box on the top menu bar as Acrobat 9 Pro?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      The Find box is drop down from the menu bar (Command-F). You can add it to the toolbar if you like. I wonder if you activated Advanced Search instead of just Find.

  20. Whitney says:


    Does Adobe reader offer a restore down button instead of maximizing it to full page view. Also I’m not sure if all adobe readers do this but I have two monitors and anytime I drag a pdf document to the other monitor it opens up in full screen and its super irritating. Does anyone know how I can fix the above problems? Please respond. Thanks