Speeding up Adobe Acrobat Startup

I'm very fond of the concept of Adobe Acrobat - being able to share a single PDF file that contains a non-volatile representation of a document, that you can view on-screen or via a printer without worrying about formatting issues caused by different fonts, operating systems or printer drivers. But I'm getting increasingly infuriated by the implementation: amongst other things, by the slow loading times and increasing bloat in the Reader software. I frequently have to wait 10-20 seconds for the application to load when all I wanted to do was view a single page. I don't want to complete an electronic form, verify a digital signature, print to a remote location, or manipulate a digital photo, so why do I have to wait for nearly 20 plug-ins to load before I can use the document. This is simply poor application design: most of these plug-ins could be loaded as a background task for starters, and the interface doesn't even offer a way to disable them.

As I browsed around the directory structure under C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 6.0\Reader, I discovered there's a subdirectory called Optional that contains a readme with the following text: "Put unused plug-ins in the optional directory." Super, I thought and promptly moved all the plug-ins. Hey presto - Acrobat Reader immediately transformed itself back into the speedy, lightweight tool that I loved back in version 3.

Searching around the web to see whether this was a safe thing to have done, I discovered this post from Darren Norton over a year ago with the same information. So I'm behind the times, certainly, but I suspect I'm not alone in having missed this "feature". I posted a quick mail to the "Cool Stuff" distribution list internally within Microsoft and received a number of replies from delighted colleagues, so I thought I'd share it here.

Comments (18)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice, I’ll remove them all at work.

    I tried here at home (moved everything out of the plugins folder), but pdfs no longer load in the browser and that will bring howls from my girlfriend.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Even doing the plugin fix isn’t good enough. It is still waaayyy tooo slooowwww.

    This is the best way to speed up Acrobat 6.0.

    Uninstall it! Try to find a version of Acrobat 5.0. You don’t need all the crap they added in 6.0 anyway.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I did not know about this hidden feature, but I had discovered a utility that speeds up Acrobat startup by disabling some of the plugins. You can find the link to download at http://turkerkeskinpala.com/blog/index.php?p=17.

    Thanks for this tip though…


  4. Anonymous says:

    I’d leave updater.api & weblink.api in order to get updates (otherwise missing from menu).

  5. Anonymous says:

    I tried removing some of the plugins and found that reader starting throwing errors at startup.

    After this, I repaired my instalation and disabled the startup screen. This drastically improved the startup time.



  6. Anonymous says:


    something I picked up that seems to work, hold down the Shift key before you click on the PDF


    Steve C.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Speeds load time but…. I’ve been wondering why no one has written a thin PDF viewer. Perhaps it has been done and I’m looking in the wrong places.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thanks! it works like a charm.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Just FYI, there’s a program that does this for you (not that it’s hard to do for most of us…). It’s called Adobe Reader SpeedUp:


  10. Anonymous says:

    Hi Tim

    I was also getting brassed off by all the plug-ins in Acrobat Reader. I have version 5 and it also did the trick for it as well. Thanks for the tip.


  11. Anonymous says:

    You star !! Thanks.

    (That delay annoyed me as well!)

  12. Anonymous says:


    I open the reader about 10 times each day and

    it is about 10 seconds faster.

    Our company has about 50 developer, which

    work more than 200 days each year.

    10x10x200x50 == 34 days per 8 hours.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Load acrobat speedup, a small freeware app that dose this stuff for you: http://www.tnk-bootblock.co.uk/prods/misc/index.php

  14. Anonymous says:

    Like most other techies, whenever I install Adobe’s Acrobat Reader I also uninstall most of the pointless

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