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Adobe Acrobat is a family of computer programs developed by Adobe Systems, designed to view, create, manipulate and manage files in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). Some software in the family is commercial, and some free of charge. Adobe Reader (formerly Acrobat Reader) is available as a no-charge download from Adobe's web site, and allows the viewing and printing of PDF files. Acrobat and Reader are widely used as a way to present information with a fixed layout similar to a paper publication.

Product family[]

Adobe has reorganized the products in the Acrobat family over the years by splitting, merging, or replacing applications. This has caused confusion over which product a user has or needs to obtain. Between versions 3 and 5, the Standard and Professional versions were one unified product simply called Adobe Acrobat.

As of June 2020, the main members of the Adobe Acrobat family are:

Adobe Labs has also produced the Adobe Acrobat Cleaner Tool to remove previous or corrupted installations of Acrobat.

Product history[]

Early history[]

Since the early 1990s, the Acrobat product had several competitors who each used their own document formats, such as:

  • AnyView from Binar Graphics
  • Common Ground from No Hands Software
  • Envoy from WordPerfect Corporation
  • Folio from NextPage
  • Microsoft Reader from Microsoft
  • Replica from Farallon Computing
  • WorldView from Interleaf
  • By the late 1990s PDF had become the de facto standard, and the others had become largely historical footnotes. This in turn has led to *many more competitors for Adobe Acrobat, both free and commercial.

Today, there are a host of third-party programs that create or manipulate PDF, such as Ghostscript, Foxit, and Nitro PDF. Adobe also allows Acrobat plug-ins to be developed by third parties, which can add extra functions within the Acrobat program.

Release history[]

Adobe Acrobat Reader 1

Acrobat Reader 1.0 (1993)

Acrobat Reader 1.0 for Macintosh was originally released 15 June 1993, later for DOS and Windows 3.1. This was not available in single copies and was not initially free. After a while the IRS purchased a right to distribute Reader 1.0, effectively making it seem free to those who obtained it that way:

  • PDF version 1.0 supported.
  • Acrobat Exchange 1.0 (included PDFWriter printer driver and Acrobat Exchange application).
  • Acrobat Distiller 1.0. Created a PDF from PostScript (no printer driver at this stage).
Adobe Acrobat 2

Acrobat 2.0 (1994)

Acrobat Reader 2.0 for Windows and Macintosh was first released September 1994. It is now available free of charge:

  • PDF version 1.1 (and prior) supported.
  • Acrobat Exchange 2.0, package as 1.0.
  • Acrobat Professional 2.0, which included the contents of Acrobat Exchange, plus Distiller.
  • There were 2.1 updates.
  • Acrobat Catalog was introduced, using Verity, Inc. technology to create searchable indexes to PDF files. Searching required a special :version of Acrobat Reader or Acrobat Exchange.
Adobe Acrobat 3

Acrobat 3.0 (1996)

Acrobat Reader 3.0 was released 1996. The first to display PDF files in-browser, and the first to support form filling:

  • PDF version 1.2 (and prior) supported.
  • A free Reader to allow searching was made available, but was not part of the default download.
  • Acrobat 3.0 – replaced Acrobat Professional 2.1. Included Acrobat Catalog, and a Distiller printer driver.
  • Updates to 3.01 and 3.02; 3.02 introduced extended forms capabilities and JavaScript.
  • First release with support for Windows 95 and later. Last release with support for Windows 3.1.
Adobe Acrobat 4

Acrobat 4.0 (1999)

Acrobat Reader 4.0 was released April 1999:

  • PDF version 1.3 (and prior) supported.
  • Acrobat 4.0.
  • Updates to 4.05.
  • Introduced Distiller Server 4.0, identical to the regular Distiller but with a multi-user license (Windows, Linux, Solaris).
  • Acrobat Business Tools 4.0 – a limited version of Acrobat.
Adobe Acrobat 5

Acrobat 5.0 (2001)

Acrobat Reader 5.0 was released May 2001:

  • PDF version 1.4 (and prior) supported.
  • Acrobat 5.0. PDFWriter removed from Macintosh application[3]
  • Updates to 5.0.5. Acrobat 5.0.5 was the first to be able to run native in Mac OS X, but also ran in Mac OS 9.
  • Distiller Server 5.0.
  • Acrobat Approval 5.0 – a limited version of Acrobat, mainly sold to people who wanted to digitally sign or save fill in forms.
  • Acrobat Reader 5.1 – supported the Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions (e.g. forms saving) (which was then under a different name).

Adobe Reader 6.0 was released April 2003. No Linux or Unix versions were released:

  • PDF version 1.5 (and prior) supported.
  • Acrobat Professional 6.0 – replacement for Acrobat 5.0, with new features. Distiller printer driver renamed Adobe PDF. PDFWriter now :gone for good. New version of Catalog integrated and not compatible with earlier products for searching.
  • Acrobat Standard 6.0 – limited version of Acrobat Professional, including Distiller but lacking features including Catalog, form :design, prepress support.
  • Updates to 6.0.1, 6.0.2, 6.0.3, 6.0.4, 6.0.5 and 6.0.6
  • Dropped support for Windows 95 and Windows 98 First Edition. Acrobat Professional was Windows 98 Second Edition, Me, NT 4.0 SP6, 2000, :XP only. Dropped support for Mac OS 9 and earlier. First release for Mac OS X.
  • Distiller Server 6.0.
  • Acrobat Elements 6.0 – PDF creation only, aimed at the corporate market (minimum 1000 licenses, Windows only)
  • Acrobat Elements Server 6.0 – client/server version of Acrobat Elements
  • Technology for "Reader enabling", allowing Reader to save, sign or annotate PDF files if the licensee had enabled the files.

Adobe Reader 7.0 was released January 2005: [4]

  • Updates to 7.0.1, 7.0.2, 7.0.3, 7.0.5, 7.0.7, 7.0.8 and 7.0.9.
  • Dropped support for Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows Me.
  • PDF version 1.6 (and prior) supported.
  • Acrobat Professional 7.0 – now includes Adobe LiveCycle Designer 7.0 (Windows only) for XML form design (different and incompatible with previous form support) – Ability to embed 3D object information from the .u3d Universal 3D format. First version to include controversial mandatory product activation.
  • Acrobat Standard 7.0
  • Acrobat Elements 7.0 (now minimum 100 licenses)
  • Acrobat 3D (Windows only) – includes all of the functionality of Acrobat Professional 7.0 as well as updated support for embedded 3D, tools for capturing 3D content from OpenGL applications, and the Adobe Acrobat 3D Toolkit for converting CAD documents to PDF objects. Also included is a version of the capture tool for installation on Unix.
  • Windows NT 4.0 SP6, 2000 SP2, XP, Mac OS X only for Acrobat. Although Linux, Solaris (SPARC only), HP-UX and AIX versions of Adobe Reader have been released.
  • Other Adobe LiveCycle products include LiveCycle Barcoded Forms, LiveCycle Document Security, LiveCycle Reader Extensions (previously Document Server for Reader Extensions and other names), LiveCycle Forms (previously Form Server), LiveCycle Form Manager, LiveCycle Policy Server and LiveCycle Workflow. Some of these are server solutions intended for large businesses. Only LiveCycle Designer 7 is bundled with Acrobat Professional.

Adobe Reader 8.0 was released November 2006:

  • PDF version 1.7 (and prior) supported.
  • Acrobat 8 Elements (was due for release mid-2007, now withdrawn before release)
  • Acrobat 8 Standard (Windows only; Macintosh version not produced)
  • Acrobat 8 Professional
  • Acrobat 3D Version 8 (released May 31). Ability to produce embedded PRC data: highly compressed format for geometry and graphics (requires Reader 8.1 to display). Most innovative feature: Product Manufacturing Information, supported for many different CAD formats.
  • Acrobat Connect (new in Acrobat family, formerly Macromedia Breeze) – online personal meeting rooms to collaborate in real time for up to 15 participants.
  • Acrobat Connect Professional (new in Acrobat family, formerly Macromedia Breeze) – Scalable, interactive web conferencing and multiple personal meeting rooms for everyone across an enterprise.
  • Mac OS X versions are Universal binary and only run on Mac OS X 10.4.
  • On June 2007, an update version 8.1 for Acrobat 8 Professional and Adobe Reader 8 was released in order to support Microsoft Office 2007, Windows Vista, and 64-bit Windows Operating Systems.[7]
  • September 2007, Reader 8.1.1 released for Linux and Solaris(SPARC) users.

Internationalization and localization[]

Language Availability[]

Adobe Acrobat is available in the following languages: Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian.

Adobe Acrobat Arabic, Hebrew and Greek versions available from WinSoft Adobe Systems’ Internationalization and localization partner.

Specific Features for Arabic and Hebrew languages[]

The Arabic and Hebrew versions are specifically developed for these specific languages.

  • TouchUp
    Adobe Acrobat Arabic and Hebrew versions come with special TouchUp properties to handle the needs of Middle Eastern languages, such as Arabic or Hindi digits, ligatures option, paragrah direction.
  • Search/Find
    Adobe Acrobat Arabic and Hebrew versions propose a Search setting in PDF Documents, Bookmarks, Notes and other Comments to do accurate searches sensitive to Middle Eastern characters.
  • Copy/Paste
    With Adobe Acrobat Arabic and Hebrew versions you can re-use Arabic and Hebrew texts from a PDF file, as you do with English texts. The Arabic/Hebrew text is transferred to the application as text, and will be displayed correctly if the application is able to handle correctly the Arabic or Hebrew script.
  • Web Capture
    Adobe Acrobat Arabic and Hebrew versions allow you to easily convert Middle Eastern Web pages or entire sites to Adobe PDF files with all links intact for offline viewing and archiving using special encoding for languages of Middle Eastern Regions.

The Middle Eastern versions are also available for Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe InCopy, Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Creative Suite (Design Standard, Design Premium, Web Premium).


  • From Version 3.02 onwards, Acrobat Reader (now Adobe Reader) has included support for JavaScript. This functionality allows the document creator to include code which executes when the document is read. While JavaScript is designed without direct access to the file system to make it "safe", vulnerabilities have been reported for abuses such as distributing malicious code through Acrobat.[9] On September 13, 2006, David Kierznowski provided sample PDF files illustrating these vulnerabilities. In the most current version of Reader, JavaScript can be disabled using the preferences menu and embedded URLs that are launched are intercepted by a security warning dialog box to either allow or block the website from launching.
  • There have been a number of people who consider the software to be too slow to load and use, so they have developed workaround solutions to speed up the software. The application has been improved by Adobe as the latest version of the software does load quicker; Adobe claims that Adobe Reader 7 users can "Open and save PDF files faster than ever" as version 7.0 launches "up to 50% faster than version 6.0".[13] This works by installing a QuickStart program which runs every time the computer is turned on, and which loads parts of Reader into memory. This can improve the loading speed of Reader, but also uses up memory resources on the computer and causes longer system start-up times.
  • Many have also noted poor behavior in the Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox Acrobat plug-ins. The plug-ins do not support full asynchronous loading, thus causing browsers to appear to "lock up" until the document has been fully downloaded. To make matters worse, they apparently also fail to terminate when a document is closed, thereby leaving behind various CPU-intensive application threads that run until the next reboot.
  • Although Adobe claims "Acrobat 7.0 and earlier will not support Windows Vista", the Adobe Reader application 7.0.9 will run under Vista if the user clicks the ignore compatibility issue dialog. Anyone switching to Windows Vista must either sacrifice using Adobe PDF tools,[clarify:what?] or pay an upgrade fee to version 8 to be able to continue using Adobe products.[clarify:what?]
  • There is currently no official option to stop Reader 8 from calling home. Furthermore, the "Updates" Preference in Reader 8 has been moved from "Edit | Preferences" to a much less obvious location. It can be found at "Help | Check for updates | Preferences", where one can choose "Automatic" or "Ask me before downloading", and "Weekly" or "Monthly". Note that "Adobe Reader 8" can be unchecked for "Applications to Update"; however, that will not stop it from checking for updates - instead it will respond "No updates available" even if updates are available. Other than this, there is no known way to stop program from downloading updates every time you open Adobe Acrobat.
  • Stop the Updater — delete folder: C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Updater5

See also[]

External links[]


Adobe Acrobat
1 · 2 (Pro) · 3 · 4 (Business Tools) · 5 (Approval) · 6 (Standard · Pro) · 7 (Standard · Pro · 3D) · 8 (Standard · Pro · 3D) ·
9 (Standard · Pro · Extended) · X (Standard · Pro · Suite) · XI (Standard · Pro) · 2017 (Standard · Pro) · 2020 (Standard · Pro)
Acrobat DC (2015 · Pro)   |   Acrobat Cleaner   |   Acrobat Reader: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9 · X · XI · Touch · DC   |   Document Cloud
Acrobat Capture   |   Connect   |   Acrobat Distiller (Server: 4 · 5 · 6 · 8)   |   Acrobat eBook Reader
Acrobat Elements: 1 · 6 (Server) · 7 · 8   |   Acrobat Exchange: 1 · 2 · 3   |   Acrobat InProduction   |   Acrobat Messenger
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