Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Speeding up Adobe Acrobat Reader, properly

I’ve seen a couple of sites with hints to speed up Adobe Reader (aka version 6.0/6.0.1 of the Adobe Acrobat Reader software). I saw it first a few months ago on Henrik Gemal’s blog, and then again on Darrel Norton’s Blog. They both recommend roughly the same thing, but in different ways, and I’ve found a combination of the two is best.
What you need to do is open Windows Explorer and navigate to C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 6.0\Reader\plug_ins (the folder may differ slightly if you installed Adobe Reader to another location). Under that folder is a subfolder called ‘plug_ins’. Open that.
Now, here’s where the tips differ, and I’m going with Henrik here. Move all of the files and subfolders, except EWH32.api and Search.api, to the ‘Optional’ subfolder, which should be just above the ‘plug_ins’ folder in the hierarchy. If you read ebooks you may need to keep eBook.api and DigSig.api in the plug_ins folder as well.
Why this works – all of the files in plug_ins are loaded into memory on startup. But for the vast majority of PDF files out there, you don’t need them, so they’re only lengthening initialisation time and wasting your memory. On my system, which is a relatively typical machine, doing this saved at least 5 seconds off loadup time for the program, and I got similar savings on two other desktop machines today. This will vary, however – in some cases the improvement will be somewhat less since Adobe offers a full and ‘lite’ version of the software, the latter being recommended for dial-up users, which includes fewer plugins.
As far as I am aware, putting the files in the Optional folder means that they are loaded only if they are needed, instead of all the time. You might get a little more milage by putting all the plugins into that folder but I haven’t tried it and I don’t imagine it’ll make that much difference in any case.
I have also heard that version 6.0.1 of the software is noticably faster than the original 6.0, but I can’t confirm this myself.
It’s a pity Adobe didn’t design the Reader application so that only loaded these plugins when necessary, as it would make the program a lot more usable. I think one of the reasons why the program is somewhat less than popular is due to its long startup times so this would improve its image among web users.
Update: If all that is far too complicated, download Adobe Reader Speedup which will automate the process for you. Found via LG Windows Daily.

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