Getting the Most Out of Adobe Reader

Using Adobe ReaderPDFs may be viewed with Adobe Reader (the latest version is 7.0.7). You can download Reader without charge from the Adobe Systems Web site. Adobe Reader V. 7.0.7 will function in Windows 2000 or XP (but not Windows Me or 98).

The "portable document format" (PDF) has become the de facto standard for delivery of documents on the Internet. It's convenient for email transmission of information and for use in collaborative drafting. PDF files are not confined to a specific word processor and can be read on Windows or Mac operating systems alike. They also have the advantages for document storage in that they are often smaller than the corresponding word processing file and can constructed so as to prevent anyone changing the text.

How helpful and pervasive is PDF? Just go to the Internal Revenue Service website Forms and Instructions page and view the forms that allow data to be filled in on screen and saved. The IRS web site also has helpful instructions for the use of fill-in forms.

State tax forms are typically presented in PDF format as well. Check out New York's forms (including some fill-in forms) for one example.

Using Adobe Reader

PDFs may be viewed with Adobe Reader (the latest version is 7.0.7). You can download Reader without charge from the Adobe systems website. Adobe Reader V. 7.0.7 will function in Windows 2000 or XP (but not Windows Me or 98).

To actually create PDF files, you'll need a program like Adobe Acrobat Standard ($299 from Adobe) or the more advanced Adobe Professional ($449).

But Adobe Reader permits you to view PDF files and to manipulate them to the degree enabled by the file's creator.

General Instructions

  • To view a document in Adobe Reader, either: (1) start Reader and open the PDF file or (2) click on the file in Windows Explorer.


  • To size the document on your screen: select the menu "View/Fit Width," press Ctrl + 2, or click on the "Fit Width" icon on the tool bar.

  • To move around: the default pointer is the hand tool (it looks like a hand). When in the hand tool, you may use the scroll wheel on your mouse to scroll through the document.

For the best view or to set preferences: go to "Edit/Preferences," or press Ctrl + K. Among many other conveniently displayed selections, you may set Reader to "Use single key accelerators to access tools." The tool tips that appear when you hover the pointer over a tool icon will disclose a single key that may be pressed to perform the same function as clicking on a tool icon.

When opened in version 7.0, or later, of Reader, PDF files can display a left hand "Table of Contents" pane. If the file has a "Table of Contents" displayed, you may navigate through the file by clicking on the headings and subheadings displayed in the contents pane. The contents pane may be turned on and off by clicking on the vertical "Bookmarks" tab.

For an in-depth treatment of the features and operation of Reader see Ted Padova, Adobe Reader 7 Revealed: Working Effectively with PDF Files (Adobe Press).

Adobe(R) Reader(R) for Palm OS(R) lets you load PDF files onto handheld devices running the Palm operating system.

Working With PDF Forms

PDF forms may be noninteractive or interactive. Noninteractive forms must be printed to be filled in. Interactive PDF forms contain form fields that you can fill in on-screen when viewed in Reader by doing the following:

  • select the hand tool;

  • to display a light blue color that identifies form fields, select the box "Highlight Fields;"

  • click inside a form field and at the I-beam pointer that appears enter text;

  • press tab to go to the next field;

  • the document may have check boxes or radio buttons that you can click on to select;

  • press "Esc" to clear a form field and deselect that field;

  • choose "File/Save As" to save the form with the data entered (if the creator of the form allows saving with data entered).

    Word Search in Adobe Reader


You may search any text file for words or phrases, except a scanned document not run through optical character reader (OCR) software. To initiate a search of a document select "Edit/Search" from the menu bar, click on the "Search" icon or press Shift + Ctrl + F.

A frame will appear on the right side of the screen. Enter the word or phrase you want to search for, then click on "Search." If you select "Match Whole Word Only" the search will find only the exact word or phrase you entered, otherwise it will find any word or phrase that includes the letters you entered. You may search the open document or any PDF files in a designated directory. The search results are listed in the order that they appear in the document. Clicking on any search result takes you to the point at which it appears in the document.

You may also select "Edit/Find" from the menu bar, or press Ctrl + F, to find a specific word in the document.

Copy and Paste from Adobe Reader to Other Programs

PDF documents can be saved from Reader only as a copy of the PDF file or as an unformatted text file. Reader, however, enables you to copy and paste text and graphics from a PDF file into another program, such as your word processor. For text do the following:

  • to select a block of text, click on the select tool, hold down the left mouse button and drag the mouse pointer over the text you want to copy;


  • to eliminate the need to click on the select tool, you may select "Enable text selection for the hand tool" at "Preferences" and the hand tool will automatically function as the select tool when hovered over text;


  • to select the entire document, right click when in the select tool and then click on "Select All, Edit/Select All" from the menu bar or press Ctrl + A.


  • to select a block from a column of text (for example, the Form 709 Instructions) click on the select tool hold down Ctrl + Alt until a box appears on the pointer and drag the pointer over the column text you wish to select;


  • after selecting text, release the left mouse button, right click to open the copy dialog and select "Copy to Clipboard." The copied text retains most of its character formatting, such as underlining, bold and italics. It might lose some formatting, however.


The method for copying text from PDF files does not copy graphics or other images. To copy a graphic image in Reader, click on the snapshot tool. The pointer will change to crosshairs, click anywhere on a page to select the whole page or drag a selection box around the portion of the document you want to copy. When you release the mouse button the selection is copied to the clipboard. You also can use this method to select text that incorporates in-line graphics, but the entire selection, including text, is converted into a picture object when pasted into your word processor.

PDF files can be protected against copying. There are security settings to restrict editing, printing, and extracting content. To check the security level of a file select "File/Document Properties/Security" from the menu bar. The box that appears lists the file's security settings.

Live Internet Links & Email

In PDF-formatted files, Internet links may be constructed as "live links." That is, when you place your mouse pointer on any link of a file displayed in Reader (typically, blue underlined text), the pointer turns into a pointing hand. Left click your mouse when the hand is on the link to the web site you desire to view and the link will then start your browser and cause it to proceed to the designated web site. The "Preferences" default is that Reader will automatically recognize URLs not created in Adobe Acrobat that are embedded in the text of a document and make them live.

You may email any PDF document directly from Reader. An email message box will appear with the file you are viewing already listed as an attachment.

Document Collaboration

A document as edited or commented on, may be read with Adobe Reader. To view the note boxes in Adobe Reader (or Acrobat) either (1) hover the mouse cursor over each caret that causes a box to appear with the edits displayed, (2) click on the caret that causes the blue edit box to appear or (3) at the menu "View," click on "Comments List" that causes a list will all notes and comments to appear at the bottom of the screen. What works in Reader depends on the version of Adobe Acrobat in which the document was created.

Documents created in Adobe Professional may even enable you to edit, add or delete comments to the document when you view it in Reader.

Bottom Line

You may have looked on Adobe Reader just as a simple means to view PDF files. There is much more to this free program than that. You may greatly increase its utility to you by exploring its many features.

Trusts & Estates magazine is pleased to present the monthly Technology Review by Donald H. Kelley -- a respected connoisseur of the software and Internet resources wealth management advisors use to further their practices.

Kelley is a lawyer living in Highlands Ranch, Colo. and is of counsel to the law firm of Kelley, Scritsmier & Byrne, P.C. of North Platte, Nebr. He is the co-author of the Intuitive Estate Planner Software, (Thomson-West 2004). He has served on the governing boards of the American Bar Association Real Property Probate and Trust Section and the American College of Tax Counsel. He is a past regent and past chair of the Committee on Technology in the Practice of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.


Trusts & Estates has asked Kelley to provide his unvarnished opinions on the tech resources available in the practice today. His columns are edited for readability only. Send feedback and suggestions for articles directly to him at [email protected].

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