Deploying Adobe Reader 8

Deployment of Adobe Reader in an enterprise environment has been much simplified since version 6, however there is still some important preparation before you think about deploying version 8. Adobe have compiled information on enterprise deployment which are available on the following pages - I prefer the developer page over the page aimed at IT professionals because it has more information and is a little easier to read:

Obtaining the Installation Files

Adobe has details of extracting the installation files for enterprise deployment on their support site. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, this is currently Adobe Reader 8.1.2. You can extract the installation files by running AdbeRdr812_en_US.EXE -nos_ne. You will find the installation files extracted to the following locations:

  • On Windows Vista/Windows Server 2008 Setup extracts to: Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Temp\Adobe Reader 8
  • On Windows XP/Windows Server 2003 Setup extracts to: Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\Temp\Adobe Reader 8

Disabling Unwanted Features

Simplifying Adobe Reader in an enterprise environment is something that we’re all looking to do, including disabling the infamous Adobe Updater 5. Disabling features is best done by creating custom transform files. I have instructions on creating your own transform files using the Adobe Customisation Wizard, or you can use the transforms files listed here:First up I have a basic transform that sets the following options:

  • SUPPRESSes any reboots after installation (I’ve had mixed results with this)
  • Stops the Adobe Reader 8 icon from being added to the Desktop
  • Removes the Help/Check for updates menu item and prevents the Updater from running automatically
  • Removes the Help/Purchase Adobe Acrobat menu item
  • Removes the Help/Digital Editions menu item
  • Disables the Start Meeting feature
  • Stops Beyond Reader from displaying at startup
  • Disables the Adobe Online Services

Adobe Reader 8.1.x Basic transform file

The second transform provides the same settings as above in addition to completely preventing the installation of Adobe Updater:

Adobe Reader 8.1.x Advanced transform file

Terminal Servers and Browser Integration

When installing Adobe Reader on Terminal Servers, it might be advantageous to disable browser integration, i.e. opening PDF files from within the browser window. The reason for this is that the Reader executable (ACRORD32.EXE) does not exit until the browser is closed. This will cause Reader to continue to consume memory even though it is not in use. To disable browser integration set the DISABLE_BROWSER_INTEGRATION property to YES when installing Reader on Terminal Servers. You can do this by editing the transform or using DISABLE_BROWSER_INTEGRATION=YES on the command line. If the command line is not for you, I’ve created another transform which you can get here:

Hiding Menu Items

Thanks to David for the information, you can remove a few more of the menu items in Reader that you might not want hanging around, such as the Beyond Adobe Reader link. Why Adobe has resorted to using JavaScript files to modify the interface is just beyond me. On one hand we can restrict some of the interface via the registry (which even uses the HKLMSoftwarePolicies key) but on the other we need to resort to a method that must be managed on each individual machine. Sometimes developers just floor me with their stupidity.The first listing here is code you can use to find the name of the menu or toolbar button. The second listing shows you the code required to hide the items. Copy the code and save them to Program Files\Adobe\Reader 8.0\Reader\Javascripts.

List menu items:

//Open Javascript Console;

//List Toolbar Buttons in the Console  
var toolbarItems = app.listToolbarButtons()  
for( var i in toolbarItems)  
console.println(toolbarItems + "n")

//List Menu Items in the Console  
var menuItems = app.listMenuItems()  
for( var i in menuItems)  
console.println(menuItems + "n")

Hide menu items:


//Hides "File" on main toolbar  

//Hides File - Open  

//Hides File - Attach to email  

//Hides Edit - Check Spelling  

//Hides Edit - Preferences  

//Hides View - Menu Bar  

//Hides View - Toolbars  

//Hides View - Navigation Panels  

//Hides View - Automatically Scroll  

//Hides View - Read Out Loud  

//Hides "Document" on main toolbar  

//Hides "Tools" on main toolbar  

//Hides Tools - Object Data  

//Hides Tools - Customize Toolbars  

//Hides Help - Beyond Adobe Reader  

//Hides Help - How to  

//Help - Online Support  

//Hides Help - Online Support - Knowledge Base  

//Hides Help - Online Support - Adobe Support Programs  

//Hides Help - Online Support - Accessibility Resource Center  

//Hides Help - Online Support - Generate System Report  

//Hides Help - Repair Adobe Reader Installation  

//Hides Help - Purchase Adobe Acrobat  

//Hides View - Read Out Loud (Great for Terminal Server)  

Deployment Methods

Most medium to large enterprises will have some sort of application deployment tool already in place, therefore deployment for these organisations should be fairly straight-forward - extract the setup files, create a transform and deploy. Adobe has some fairly straight forward documentation on deploying Adobe Reader via different deployment tools:

Any organisation utilising Group Policy for application deployment may find things a little more challenging. Check out my post on deploying applications with Group Policy for details on doing it the right way.You will also find information on deploying Reader on:

Why two documents are required for Terminal Server and Presentation Server, I don’t know - deployment is exactly the same. If you are deploying via a script, I have details on scripting the installation of Adobe Reader 8.x - Unattended Install: Adobe Reader 8.x.