Optimizing Adobe Acrobat Reader 8/9 in 10 seconds on Windows XP

I’ve seen some posts about disabling plugins in Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to boost it well into pdf-heaven, but there are several solutions floating around on the web. I thought I’d sum up what I consider the best way to make the reader very fast while still keeping the functionality. And if you’re fast it can be done in less than 10 seconds!

As we’re currently designing a new system image for all our machines and therefore have a test group, I was fortunate to get some user feedback on this method. They were all positive once I had the right files in the right place.

So, here goes (make sure Adobe Acrobat Reader is NOT running while doing this):

  1. Navigate to your Adobe Acrobat Reader installation directory as a user with Administrative rights.
    The default path is %programfiles%\Adobe\Reader 8.0\Reader\ or  %programfiles%\Adobe\Reader 9.0\Reader\ depending on your version
    To go there quick, presuming you’ve kept the default directory, hit Windows button + R and enter the default path given above, then hit Enter.
  2. Go into the plug_ins (retarded name btw) directory, hit Ctrl + A to select all files and Ctrl + X to cut them to your clipboard
  3. Go up/back to the installation directory and enter the “Optional” directory. Paste the files here with Ctrl + V.
  4. While holding Ctrl click on the following files:
    • AcroForm.api
    • EScript.api
    • IA32.api
  5. Hit Ctrl + X to cut these, go back to the plug_ins directory and hit Ctrl + V to paste them back where they once were.


Your Adobe Acrobat Reader should now open PDFs as fast as Preview in OS X or Ghostview in Windows / Linux.

There are a couple of remarks here:

  • By putting all files into the Optional folder these plugins (e.g. text2speech) will not be loaded when Acrobat Reader is started. They will instead be loaded when explicitly asked for / needed.
  • Why did I move some files back you might ask yourself? Well, without these files you won’t be able to load Acrobat Reader in a browser window without the browser going bananas.

While some users (probably 3 in the whole world) might need all those plugins immediately we quickly realized that our average user does not.

This trick, in part, is possible in earlier versions of Acrobat Reader as well, but the older it gets, the less plugins it has, so.. :-)

5 thoughts on “Optimizing Adobe Acrobat Reader 8/9 in 10 seconds on Windows XP”

  1. Many thanks for this. I dislike Adobe Reader, but the alternatives are still worse and your tips do the trick. The only thing I did differently was to leave Search and Search5 files in the plug_ins folder to keep that functionality.

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