Getting Around Adobe Acrobat
One of the biggest advantages you can have in using this program is knowing how to find everything when you need it. PDF files can be lengthy. Some can be the length of a novel. You'll find that being able to navigate through the PDF, as well as through the program, is a huge benefit when it comes to using Adobe Acrobat.

Opening a PDF

The most basic task that you need to be able to complete to use Acrobat is also the easiest. That task is opening a PDF that's already saved to your computer. To do this, go to the File menu, then select Open (File>Open).

Find the PDF file that you want to open, click on it to select it, then click Open.

We've opened the United States Constitution. As you can see, it now shows in our document window:

The Menu Bar
The Menu bar contains ten different menus that are listed horizontally across the Acrobat window:

The Acrobat menu is only visible to Macintosh users and has items that affect the operation of the program.

The File menu is the first menu that everybody sees, regardless of whether you use Macintosh or not. The File menu lists commands that allow you to open, close, save, and manipulate PDF files that are stored on your computer. The File menu in Acrobat is similar to the File menu in other programs.

The Edit menu contains cut, copy, and paste commands. For Windows-based PCs, this is where you'll go to set program preferences. If you're on a Macintosh computer, you'd use the Adobe menu to do that.

The View menu gives you commands to change how your documents are displayed on the screen. You can also use the zoom feature by going to the View menu. In addition, this is where you'll go to specify toolbars and panes that you want to be visible. We'll learn more about all this later.

The Document menu is where you can go to manipulate a PDF file's structure, delete or rearrange the pages, add headers and footers, etc.

The Comments menu is where you'll go to comment on a PDF and read other comments.

The Forms menu contains commands to help you create and distribute interactive forms.

The Tools menu contains submenus. These submenus give you access to features that are available through toolbars. These features include creating articles or measuring areas. 

The Advanced menu is for advanced users. The name of the menu makes that clear. This is where you'll go if you want to, for example, create a searchable index that spans a collection of PDF files.

The Window menu is where you specify details of document windows. If you want to tile or stack windows, bring a document to the front, or choose a zoom level, this is where you'd go. In short, anything that has to do with the Acrobat window is found here.

The Help menu provides access to help with Acrobat. You can also go to the Help menu to check for updates or register your software.

The Toolbars

Acrobat contains more than several toolbars that you'll use to gain access to the program's features. You'll find the toolbars at the top of the document window, as shown below:

These toolbars can be moved to any of the four sides of the document window. They can also be detached and be placed as palettes. 

That said, a lot of the toolbars aren't visible by default. You use the Menu bar to show a toolbar, then to hide it again.

If you want to use a toolbar that's not visible, go to the View menu, then select the Toolbars menu (View>Toolbars). 

 Select the toolbar that you want to be visible. The toolbars that are visible have checkmarks beside them.

We chose Advanced Editing. When we click on it to select it, the toolbar now is displayed as a palette in our document window:

If you want to dock the toolbar, or place it with the other toolbars, drag the palette (using your mouse) to the collection of toolbars at the top of the document window. To do this, move your mouse pointer to the top section of the toolbar that you want to dock, hold down your left mouse button, then drag it to the toolbars area. Release your mouse when you've placed the palette.

As you can see below, our toolbar is now docked.

Now, if you want to take a docked toolbar and make it a palette, click and hold the toolbar's drag area (), as shown below. A dotted line will appear around the toolbar.

 Drag it to the document window area, then release.

Toolbar Features

Each toolbar contains specific features. Let's review the basic features of the toolbars so you can get an idea where to find the things you need within Acrobat.       

Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Adobe Acrobat course?
  • The Analysis toolbar is where you'll find tools to examine and measure items on a page.  
  • Comment & Markup. You'll use this toolbar to add comments to a page. 


  • Edit. Here you'll find tasks to change the content of any page. 


  • File is used to open, close, and work with files. 


  • Find has a text field that you'll use to search in a document


  • Multimedia allows you to embed movies, sounds, and other multimedia in a document.  


  • Page display is where you can specify if pages are displayed one at a time, as scrolling columns of pages, or as a spread


  • Page Navigation allows you to move from page to page within a document


  • Print Production contains tools that will be important if your PDF will be professionally printed


  • The Redaction toolbar allows you to mark sensitive text for hiding or removal. 


  • Select & Zoom contains the Hand, Selection, and Zoom tools


  • Tasks is a set of dropdown menus that give you access to frequent tasks, such as creating a PDF


  • Typewriter allows you to fill in a scanned paper form without adding PDF form fields to the document


  • The Properties bar really isn't a toolbar. Instead, it shows information that's important when you create links, form fields, and other objects.

    Customizing Toolbars

    You can also customize your toolbars so they only show the tools that you need. As you can see in the toolbar below, each toolbar contains several buttons (or tools). You can remove tools from the toolbar if you want.

    To add or remove individual tools from (or to) a toolbar, go to View>Toolbars>More Tools.

    You'll then see the dialogue box below:

    Put a checkmark in the box if you want the tool to be visible in the toolbar. Deselect the box (or leave it empty) if you don't want the tool to appear in the toolbar.

    Click OK when you're finished.

    The Navigation Panel

    The Navigation Pane doesn't show by default. To make the Navigation Pane visible, go to View>Navigation Panels>Show Navigation Pane.

    The Navigation Pane opens on the left side of the document window:

    You can use the Navigation Pane to move around within the document. You can move from page to page by clicking a thumbnail of a page or move around by bookmarks, etc.

    Located within the pane are individual navigation panels. We've labeled the panels that are showing in our Navigation Pane.

    The Pages panel is the one we have showing. As you can see, it lists all of our pages.

    We can close that panel by clicking the white arrow on the right.

    When we do that, this happens:

    Now we can click on the icon for another panel to open that panel. Below, we've opened the Bookmark panel:

    Each panel has a gear icon that is displayed when you open the panel:

    When you click the downward arrow beside the gear, you can see the commands appropriate to the current pane that's open. Below is a snapshot of the commands for the Bookmarks panel:

    We can also add other panels to our Navigation Pane. Go to View>Navigational Panels.

    Using Organizer

    The Organizer makes it easier to locate and work with the PDF files that you need. To open the Organizer, go to File>Organizer> Open Organizer.

    This is the Organizer window. The Organizer window displays its content in several sections. There are three columns:

    Places contains collections of PDF files. Acrobat creates some of these collections for you, such as a collection of all files viewed today, yesterday, etc. You can also create collections. Just click the "place" for which you want to view PDF files. There are three sections from which you can choose a "place."

    The Files column display what is called a container. It's called a container because it contains PDFs. Our container was "Today." We chose it from the Places column.

    Now, if you select a PDF file in the Files column, thumbnails of each of the pages in that PDF are displayed in the third column, the Pages column.

    The slider beneath the Pages column zooms the page preview.

    Now, if you look along the top of the Files and Pages columns, there's a set of tool buttons that you can apply to a file that you select in the Files column:


  • Open will open the file that you've selected in the Files column


  • Print will print the file selected in the Files column. 


  • Email will use your email client to email the file as an attachment


  • Combine Files will combine two or more selected files into one PDF file or portfolio.


  • Send for Review will start the review process for the file.