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4/26/2007
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Windows Vista Tip: Installing And Running Adobe Reader

What do you do when you can't read PDF files on Vista?

When you want to put a document online, or distribute it via e-mail, and you need it to look exactly the way it looks on paper, then PDF is the way to go -- and the standard application used to view PDF files is, of course, Adobe Reader.

Unfortunately, according to Adobe, Vista doesn't support older versions of Reader, and the current version, Adobe Reader 8 (released in November, 2006), will be updated for Vista sometime "in the first half" of 2007. So what's the story in the meantime?

Problem: Adobe Reader 8 doesn't work with Vista.

Well, if you're a Vista user and you decide to install Reader 8, the first hint of any problem may come when you get an error message like "The temp folder on a drive was full . . . " or "The Windows Installer Service could not be accessed. . . ."

Generally, says Adobe, the problem is that you've turned off Vista's massively annoying User Account Control (and who could blame you?). There are two possible solutions, according to a tech note on Adobe's Web site:

  1. You can re-enable User Account Control.

    You do this in the Control Panel. Choose User Accounts and click "Turn User Account Control on or off." Check the box to turn User Account Control on, restart your PC, and run the Reader 8 install. (It's okay to turn User Account Control off again after you successfully install Adobe Reader.)

  2. You can run the installer in XP Compatibility Mode.

    When you download the Reader installation file, save it to your desktop. Once the download is finished, right-click the file, and open its Properties, and click the Compatibility tab. Under Compatibility Mode, check "Run this program in compatibility mode for:" and choose Windows XP (Service Pack 2) from the drop-down list. Click Apply, and then choose OK to close the Properties window. Then double-click the file to start the installation.

If you still get an error message rather than a clean installation, there's one more thing to try: Several people have reported that they successfully copied the folder containing the Reader install files from the temp directory where it is unzipped -- the path will be C:\Users\{username}\AppData\LocalLow\Netopsystems\temp -- to the root directory and ran it from there.

Solution: Re-enable User Account Control or install in XP Compatibility Mode.

Installation Isn't The Only Problem
Even if you successfully install Reader, you may not be out of the woods yet. Reader 8 on Vista may fail to start, give you a runtime error, or hide behind a "please wait while the document is being prepared" message for way too long before it displays the PDF.

Both these problems, which also affected previous versions of Reader on Windows XP, are likely to be related to problems with plug-ins. If Reader won't start at all, find the plug-in called Updater.api (it's in the Program Files\Adobe\Reader 8.0\Reader\plug_ins folder) and disable it -- rename, move, or delete it. You'll lose some reader functionality that you probably seldom use anyway. If Reader takes an agonizingly long time to index the PDF before it displays it, try disabling the Accessability.api file in the same directory.

And keep an eye on Adobe.com for the promised update to Reader 8 that should fix all these problems.


More Windows Vista Tips


For more helpful tips on installing and using Microsoft Vista, try these:

  • Top 5 Windows Vista Tips To Personalize Your PC
    Our list of hot features to add to your Vista installation includes video wallpaper, making Flip 3-D work more like the Mac's, tuning Firefox's user interface, managing security, and where to get a hold of nifty Sidebar Gadgets.

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