PDF (Portable Document Format) is a common open format for document exchange and offers a fixed layout document typically used for things like user manuals, reports, property details on realtor’s websites, online invoices and account statements.
Adobe Reader is a stand-alone program but it also installs an add-on or extension into the web browser to let you open or save PDF files directly from webpages – it is one of the core Windows programs that you should keep updated.
You probably already have it on your computer. Many websites offer PDF documents for opening or download – without a PDF viewer you may not be able to open, save or view PDF files and websites offering them will keep prompting you to install Adobe Reader…
Why Update It?
We have lost count of the number of computers we see with very old versions of Reader installed (versions 6, 7 and 8 are long obsolete and version 9 has been superseded for security reasons). Many people ignore repeated reminders to update it because they don’t know what it is or are afraid it may cause a problem. However, there are 2 very good reasons to keep Adobe Reader up to date:
1. Performance and Reliability – The latest version provides better performance and improved compatibility with new releases of web browsers and Windows Service Packs.
2. Security – Because PDF use is so widespread it is often the target of viruses. The latest version has security updates and sandbox protection to help keep your computer safe – the sandbox lets Reader run in a confined environment that blocks specific actions (e.g. installing files or modifying system information) and so prevents virus infected PDF files damaging your computer.
Using an older insecure version leaves your computer more exposed to virus infection and malware.
How To Update Or Install Adobe Reader
The latest version at the time of writing is version XI. I wish Adobe wouldn’t be so pretentious and confuse people – it is actually version 11 but instead of continuing with the obvious naming strategy of version 11 they have swapped to the Roman numeral XI.
If your version is older (or you do not have Reader installed) you can download it directly from Adobe but their download and installation process can be confusing (it installs an unnecessary download manager and prompts for additional programs) so we recommend downloading it from Filehippo here.
Double click the file you downloaded to install it – follow the simple instructions but keep an eye out for any other options ticked during the installation process e.g. the Google Toolbar – untick these options if you do not want to install them as well. Version XI automatically removes and updates any previous version (if present) so you should now be up to date.
Make Adobe Reader Secure After Installation
You should see a new shortcut on your desktop for Adobe Reader XI. After installing I always perform the following steps to make it more secure and further reduce the risk from malicious or virus infected PDF files:
- Double click the shortcut to open the program (the first time it will display a license agreement – just click to Accept it).
- Disable Windows Trusted Sites – click on Edit and select Preferences. Then click on the Security (Enhanced) category and untick ‘Automatically trust sites from my Win OS security zones’.
- Secure Trust Manager – click on Edit and select Preferences. Then click on the Trust Manager category and untick ‘Allow opening of non-PDF file attachments with external applications’.
Remember to update Adobe Reader on a regular basis – a reminder will pop up in your system tray (bottom right of screen) when a new version is available.