Like most other techies, whenever I install Adobe’s Acrobat Reader I also uninstall most of the pointless plugins, to speed up its dog-slow startup process. If you want to learn more about speeding up Adobe Reader 6.0, just ask Tim or Chris or Greg or Omar or Kevin (“site:blogs.msdn.com adobe reader” is a wonderful search term!).

Now that the even-shinier Adobe Reader 7.0 is out (via Mike Gunderloy’s excellent Daily Grind), I thought I’d document my steps for optimizing this new version. So here’s what I just did on two of my machines:

  1. In Edit-Preferences, do the following:
    • General tab: turn off “Automatically save document changes”
    • Internet tab: turn off all three checkboxes
    • Page Display tab: turn on “CoolType”
    • Search tab: turn off “Enable fast find”
    • Startup tab: turn off “Show messages and automatically update”
  2. In View-Toolbars, turn off “Rotate view” and “Search the internet”. Under “Show button labels”, turn them all on so you can figure out what the heck those icons means.
  3. Fire up Windows Explorer and do the following:
    • Navigate to C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 7.0\Reader\
    • Right-click to create a new subdirectory, and call it plugins_uninstalled
    • Move all the .api files from the plug_ins subdirectory to your new plugins_uninstalled subdirectory, except for AcroForm.api (for form-filling) and EScript.api (dependency of AcroForm.api).
  4. Finally, go to Start-Run-All Programs-Startup, and right-click and delete the “Adobe Reader Speed Launch” link that Adobe silently added to your startup process.

What, you wanted to actually know what all those plug-ins did so that you can make up your own mind? Move them back again, launch Acrobat Reader, and go to Help-About Adobe Plugins to learn what each plug-in does and what its dependencies are. Oh, and if you sped up Adobe 6.0 by removing some plugins, the update process will have left some subdirectories under C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 6.0\, so if you’re tidy-minded you can delete those too.

Of course, if all this seems like too much hard work, you can just wait – I’m sure the good folks over at AcroPDF.com will update their “PDF SpeedUp” freeware utility to work with v7.0 before too long  (Update: Yep, they have - you can get it here)

Update: a couple of readers have suggested that most users will also want search functionality, in which case you can keep Search.api and Search5.api in your plug_ins directory.