Adobe Reader sloooow in opening PDFs
November 14, 2005 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Adobe Reader 7.0 for Windows is taking several minutes to open even small PDFs. Why is this, and how can I fix it?

This is happening specifically on my wife's PC. I'm a Mac guy, so I'm lost here. It's only about a year old, and pretty powerful. I don't have the exact specs, but I remember when she ordered it that she got a middle to high end machine. She runs Windows XP.

When she tries to open PDFs in Reader, it will take as long as 5-10 minutes to open. There is no freeze- she noticed that it just takes a long, long time.

She's uninstalled and re-installed a few times to no avail. Also, this just started happening when she started using v7.0.

She uses Firefox primarily for web browsing. My guess is that her machine is infected with a virus of some sort... but I don't know what to do about it. I checked and didn't find anything specific to this. This is the only apparent problem she has with her computer as well.
posted by jeff-o-matic to Computers & Internet (19 answers total)
fwiw i also have problems with adobe 7 in firefox (windows 2000). i'm pretty sure it's not a virus. i just kill the acroread process from the task manager and next time it starts up fine (i don't have the patience to wait 5 mins, so don't know if it's exactly the same behaviour as your wife is seeing - i thought it was hanging).

i'm assuming a future version of acrobat or firefox will fix the problem.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:01 PM on November 14, 2005

You may want to use the ultra fast foxit reader in the mean time.
posted by jikel_morten at 5:03 PM on November 14, 2005

If you don't need Reader's super-duper advanced encryption features that a scant few PDFs contain, you can use Foxit. It opens faster than you can blink, and works for 99% of the PDFs you'll ever use.
posted by mullingitover at 5:04 PM on November 14, 2005

Even by the slow standards of Reader, that's incredibly slow. Is it really that long, or does it just feel that way?

Regardless, I'd recommend Adobe Reader Speedup. It strips away a mess of useless plugins, and makes Reader usable.
posted by O9scar at 5:06 PM on November 14, 2005

I've never used 7 but I gave up on Adobe reader 6 since it was so slow and reverted to using 5. You can pick up older versions at Old Verson.
posted by octothorpe at 5:10 PM on November 14, 2005

as far as i can tell, foxit is standalone. is there any way to get it to run inside firefox?
posted by andrew cooke at 5:10 PM on November 14, 2005

It won't inside of Firefox as far as I know, although since it's registered on my machine as the handler for .pdf files, Firefox will just open it automatically. Overall it's still faster than using Reader inside the browser.
posted by nev at 5:14 PM on November 14, 2005

I think it's because the update checker is hanging. But that's unsubstantiated.
posted by smackfu at 5:20 PM on November 14, 2005

Another vote for Foxit Reader. I can't believe how fast it is. I've used it for a year or so and it's one of my "must-have" applications.

posted by Independent Scholarship at 5:23 PM on November 14, 2005

I'm sorry I wasn't more clear.

She receives the PDFs via e-mail (Outlook Express). She drags them to her desktop and double clicks them to open. I also had her try opening the PDFs by launching Reader then going to File/Open.

And yes... It takes several long minutes. We just tried it out again before I wrote this question.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 5:26 PM on November 14, 2005

At my department they recently "upgraded" Acrobat Reader to 7.0 (Solaris), and I absolutely loathe the thing. I takes years to load, it's bloated, and it has blinking ads. On my home PC, I've been using 5.0, like octothorpe, and I like it just fine. It works with Firefox too.
posted by epimorph at 5:38 PM on November 14, 2005

Try going to the folder where the Adobe Reader program is, I think it's Program Files\Adobe Reader, or maybe Adobe\Adobe reader...

anyway... find the Plugins folder, and move all of the content out of it and put it in a backup location. This should get Reader to start faster by not loading unnecessary plugins.
posted by odinsdream at 5:54 PM on November 14, 2005

Why not try to open it with Foxit PDF Reader? It is FREE and is gazillion times faster than Adobe Reader.
Download it here at
posted by Independent Scholarship at 6:10 PM on November 14, 2005

Count this as another vote for Foxit. But, yes, Independent Scholarship, I think he's got the idea... I was experiencing similar (though not as lengthy) slowdowns and, as smackfu guessed, it was the auto-update system causing the machine to hang for a while. Even installing all of the updates, including the oh-so-vital "3d atmosphere sound support" didn't stop it from checking. Just ditch it - there's no reason to use Adobe's version.

And andrew cooke - I can't think of any reason why having a PDF open inside FF is preferable to opening in a standalone app. Is this really a deal-breaker?
posted by blag at 6:49 PM on November 14, 2005

Maybe he doesn't realize that you can have the browser take the PDF link results and outsource it to the standalone browser -- IOW, he thinks plugin inside the browser is the only way to be able to click on a link and view the PDF right away (no intervening save-to-desktop step).

Anyway, I always go for "launch standalone app" because there's a couple things that you can't do with the plugin. For example, menu -> File -> Properties (to see when it was created, how, author, etc.) And generally it works better that way.
posted by intermod at 9:04 PM on November 14, 2005

well, this isn't his question, but yes, he does realise that, and yes, for him it is a dealbreaker.

i have documentation in a mix of formats. when i'm programming i have docs for different systems open in different tabs on firefox. i don't want to be having to switch to a different app for some apps.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:12 AM on November 15, 2005

Interestingly, I read this question because I'm having exactly the same problem. In the browser, Reader will hang, and never open up, leaving a zombie process taking up part of the CPU time until I kill it. When I run it standalone, it'll open the documents, but not until some serious wait-time.

I've tracked it down to 2 things: 1) The updater trying to contact Adobe, and depending on its time to download the updates. 2) What odinsdream suggested with moving the plugins to a backup folder.

Now, it runs immediately in both the browser and on the desktop. It actually runs faster than 5.0 did.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:04 AM on November 15, 2005

Point taken, Andrew. You may find this extension useful: PDF download. When you click on a pdf link it lets you choose what you want to do with it: open the pdf inside a new tab, download it to the computer or view it as HTML. Or you may just find it annoying. You know, whatever.

Anyway, any luck jeff?
posted by blag at 12:14 PM on November 15, 2005

since i installed the speedup program, acrobat started crashing. i'm going to try moving the extensions out of the folder instead...
posted by andrew cooke at 2:44 PM on November 16, 2005

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