How to speed up Adobe Reader

Courtesy LifeHacker, I came across this great Adobe Reader tip to reduce the lethargy with which it starts up:

To remove this ‘feature’, simply navigate to your %Program Files%\Adobe\Reader 8.0\reader\plug_ins folder, and rename (delete, copy elsewhere) the ‘accessability.api’ file.

Translated into Mac-friendly coordinates, we have:

To remove this ‘feature’, simply navigate to /Applications/Adobe Reader/Adobe Reader, and rename (delete, copy elsewhere) the Accessibility.acroplugin/ directory.

What this “fixes” is Reader’s need to index the whole document so that it can, among other things, read it out loud to you. No thanks, Adobe!

I can confirm that Reader now loads in half the time it was taking before. Preview is still my PDF reader of choice, since it’s so lightweight and lightning-fast, but now it’s at least worth keeping Reader around “just in case.”

The same source notes that Adobe may have improved the program on its own for version 8.1, so this hack may not be necessary in the future.

1 of 2 people learned something from this entry.

  1. jim said,

    August 14, 2007 at 10:33 am

    (Knew it already.)

    Adobe’s had problem with slow load times from its add-ons since at least version 6.0; it’s doubtful they’ll improve it :-(

    As PDF is now an open standard, and because Adobe has stolen a page from the Java crowd by adding an updater (“An upgrade is available! An upgrade is available! Shall I completely derail your productivity and install the @!#%#!$ thing? [Oui!] [no]”), I’ve used alternatives. On Windows: FoxIt; linux: KPDF or XPDF.

  2. jim said,

    August 14, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    Dude, this was distracting (and a nice diversion from Panic! Man!

    I found some interesting tools (sorry, Windows only) that disable various features of Acrobat reader. One of the best rated ones on Softpedia has a long history in shutting off the (mostly useless) Acrobat plugins. It also lets one disable the little animated graphic advertisement; automated updating, and the splash screen.

    I found the list of plugins interesting. The bold ones below are what the tool will turn off for “fast” mode. There is… a lot of crap:

    Accessibility – screen readers can interact with Arobat, requires acroform, escript, pddom
    Acroform – work with electronic forms, requires escript, weblink, ia32, webpdf, sendmail, spelling, digsig
    Annotations – users can mark up documents (requires escript, weblink, sendmail, multimedia)
    Checkers — various framework thigns to provide object-level modification and traversal. Three clients do stuff like figure out how much disk space is being used, optimize bookarks
    DigSig – digital signing service
    DVA – analyzes documents to verify they conform to PDF specification
    ebook – DRM plugin
    Escript – PDF documents can use Javascript/Ecmascript
    EWH32 browser manager plugin (for windows)
    HLS – highlights from web searches of PDF files from a browser
    ia32 – internet access
    imageviewer – “view multimedia slideshows”
    makeaccessible – converts untagged PDF to tagged (so they can be read by a screen reader)
    pddom – structure and content toolkit used for accessibility and content repurposing
    ppklite – public key security plugin
    readoutloud – yes, yes, oh god yes
    reflow – reflows content to fit the window
    Search, Search5 – back-end for search services + compatibility for old ones
    updater – more cowbell
    weblink – link web pages from pdf files

  3. jim said,

    August 16, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    correction: the bold ones are the only ones enabled.

  4. wkiri said,

    August 18, 2007 at 8:02 am

    (Learned something new!)

    Interesting. In the Plug-ins/ directory I mentioned above, most of these things appear, so I’m guessing that by moving them just as I did Accessibility.acroplugin/, I could disable them as well. Thanks for the translation between names and what they do!

    In addition to your list, my installation has


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