May 6, 2012

Bookmarking in Adobe Reader

I RECENTLY moved to Windows and started using Adobe Reader. The latest version is Adobe Reader X (that is, 10) and I started to keenly feel the need for a bookmarking feature like the one that's built in to Mac OS’s PDF reader, Preview. (Which is quite superbly done.)

A quick run through Reader's menus revealed nothing about bookmarking. Adobe's still calling the built-in navigation links in PDF documents ‘bookmarks’. So that’s a dead trail. A web search turned up a bunch of hacks, some of which work but not very well, and others which just don’t.

Fortunately, Adobe Reader X has a (no hacking required) feature that’s almost equivalent to bookmarking, albeit in a slightly unexpected place: the Comment panel on the right-hand side. If you click the Comment toolbar button on the right, the Comment panel pops up, divided into two sections: Annotations, and Comments List.

So to add a ‘bookmark’: click the Sticky Note button in the Annotations section of the panel, then click anywhere on the page where you want to position the sticky note. You can then minimise the sticky note by clicking the minimise button on its upper-right corner.

As soon as you place a sticky note on the page, it shows up on the Comments List section of the panel. This is awesome because this comments list can basically be used like a bookmarks list, with a click on each comment taking you to the exact page it’s on. And when you’re done with it as a bookmark, you can right-click on it and select Delete.

There is one drawback: every time you close the PDF file, you’ll have to save it, in place, again. The sticky notes, or for our purposes bookmarks, are saved inside the PDF files, and Adobe Reader doesn’t let you just Ctrl+S save a PDF file, it forces you to pick the file in a Save As dialog box each time. Still ... that’s a relatively small trade-off for a pretty convenient bookmarking feature.

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