Adobe Acrobat PDFs have become a standard format for so many documents—including product documentation, white papers, and newsletters—that many IT departments have made the Adobe Acrobat Reader part of their standard client image. While this is fine for desktop users, what about users on the go? Luckily, Adobe offers a reader that enables you to store and read Adobe Acrobat PDFs on your PDA. For my examples in this article, I will focus on the Adobe Reader for the Palm OS.

It is important to note that the reader doesn’t work like the standard Adobe Acrobat Reader. Instead, it includes the following:

  • Desktop application and HotSync conduit to be installed on your Windows PC
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your Palm OS-based PDA for reading Adobe Acrobat PDF files on your PDA

Get your own copy

The Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS is available for download from the Adobe Web site. You can also obtain the Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS along with readers for other PDAs as part of the full version of Adobe Acrobat 5.

Using the reader
Once you have downloaded the software, click the Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS icon that was installed to your Windows desktop. The Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS dialog box appears as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
Opening the reader

From the Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS dialog box, click Add to open the Open dialog box. This is a standard Windows dialog box from which you can browse for the Adobe Acrobat PDF files to add to the Reader. After choosing the PDFs you want to transfer to your Palm OS based PDA, they appear in the Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS dialog box.

Figure B
Adding files to your PDA

Figure B shows a PDF file ready to transfer to a PDA. You can transfer one or more PDF files to your PDA from this dialog box. I recommend that you add all the necessary PDF files to the desktop application first. Then, transfer them to your PDA.

Setting preferences for Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS
There are a number of preferences you can set for the Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS. Select the Preferences option to open the dialog box shown in Figure C. You can adjust the following items from the Preferences dialog box:

  • Image—Including full size, shrink to fit screen width, or no images
  • Color—Including retain color in images as either 256 colors or thousands of colors
  • Hotsync—Enables you to transfer the PDFs on your desktop to the main memory of your handheld or to a memory stick. (This option is especially useful for users of many Sony Clie models, or later model Palm PDAs.)

Figure C
Setting preferences

Navigating PDFs on your PDA
The Adobe Acrobat application on your Palm OS based PDA includes its own set of Grafitti shortcut characters for navigating through files. The following list includes the document shortcuts specific to the installed Adobe Acrobat Reader.

  • Open: o
  • Show Table of Contents: t
  • Find: f
  • Copy: c
  • Beam: b
  • Document info: i
  • Full screen: e
  • Hide images: m
  • Show images: m m
  • Forward in history: l
  • Backward in history: j
  • Go to page: a
  • Go to specific page: <enter page number>
  • Previous page: <numeric backspace>
  • Preferences: r

Adobe Acrobat Readers for other PDA operating systems
While this article focused on just the Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS, there are Adobe Acrobat Readers available for the PocketPC and Symbian operating systems as well.

The version of Adobe Acrobat Reader for the PocketPC that you use will depend on the processor chip used by your Pocket PC PDA and the version of Pocket PC you are using. All PDAs running Pocket PC 2002 with ARM or XScale processors use the same version. If you are using Pocket PC, a separate version of Adobe Acrobat Reader for Pocket PC is available for the following processors:

  • ARM for the Compaq iPAQ
  • MIPS for the Casio Cassiopeia
  • SH3 for the HP Jornada
  • ARM for all PocketPC models

There are two components comprising the Adobe Acrobat Reader for the PocketPC:

  • ActiveSync filter for transferring untagged Adobe Acrobat PDF files to your PocketPC-based PDA
  • Acrobat Reader for reading Adobe Acrobat PDF files from the small screen of a PocketPC-based PDA

Take your documents with you
While the readability of a PDF on a PDA might not match viewing the same PDF on the latest PC or Macintosh, the option to take PDFs along on a PDA is an appealing option for workers who may need to have access to certain documentation but who don’t want to drag it along in hard copy or on CD.