Just launch a PDF in Adobe Reader DC, and you should find a Tools pane pop up to the right of the screen. It surprisingly lists a bunch of useful features such as Protect and Optimize PDF — until you find out that it’s just an advertisement board to upgrade to the Standard or Pro versions. Nice try, Adobe.
Of course, you can get it out of the way by simply hiding it, but that’s when you find the stupid thing showing up each time you re-open the program. While it only takes just a click to push it back, the whole process gets old real fast, especially if you deal with multiple PDFs all the time.
Don’t give up hope just yet, however. There’s a nifty option that let’s you hide the Tools pane and make Adobe Reader DC actually remember that. And if you dislike the pane too much, you are also going to find out how to completely get rid of it permanently.
Sounds awesome, right? Then let’s get started right away!
Hiding the Tools Pane Permanently
Just so you know, Adobe Reader DC wasn’t actually released with any means to permanently hide the Tools pane, which is just ridiculous. Fortunately, an update that was released subsequently — probably due to the outcry from seriously annoyed users — prompted Adobe to add in an option to finally make that possible.
So with a brief visit to the Preferences panel, you should be able to stop the thing from confronting you each time you open Adobe Reader DC.
Step 1: Hide the Tools pane like you normally do.
Note: You need to do that before you get to the Preferences panel since the option that you are about to enable only makes Adobe Reader DC remember the state of the Tools pane — rather than specifically hiding it.
Step 2: Click Edit, and then select Preferences.
Step 3: Click the Documents side-tab, and then check the box next to Remember Current State of Tools Pane.
Step 4: To save your changes, click OK.
That should do the trick! You won't find the Tools pane showing up automatically when re-opening Adobe Reader DC anymore.
Note: However, do remember that if you unhide the Tools pane and exit the application, it starts showing up automatically once again. If that happens, it’s simply a matter of hiding the pane normally to make Adobe Reader DC remember your action.
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Getting Rid of the Tools Pane Altogether
While Adobe has been considerate enough to ultimately provide an option that prevents the Tools pane from showing up automatically, the position where it collapses to — right next to the scroll bar of all things — can cause a lot of frustration.
Seriously, the last thing you want is to accidentally click that thin strip of pixels when using the scroll bar, which makes the Tools pane pop right back up. And to make matters even worse, the pane partially hides or zooms out your document to make space for itself, thereby impacting your productivity.
Since the entire pane comprises mainly of paid upgrades, consider getting rid of it altogether to prevent it from being such a bother. And for the few options that are actually usable — Comment, Export PDF, etc. — you can still access them via the Tools tab or the menu bar. So, it’s not like you're missing out on anything.
Important: The following procedure requires modifying a file within the Adobe Reader DC directory. Hence, exit the application before you proceed.
Step 1: Press Windows-R to open the Run box. Next, copy and paste the file path below into the search box, and then click OK.
Note: If applicable, replace 'C' with the appropriate drive letter of the partition where the operating system on your PC is installed.
Step 2: Right-click the file labeled Viewer.aapp, and then select Properties on the context menu.
Step 3: Click the Security tab, and then click Edit.
Step 4: Under Group or User Names, click Users, and then check the box next to Full Control.
Click Apply, and then click OK to save your changes. Do the same on the Properties dialog box.
Step 5: Create a backup of the Viewer.aapp file to another location on your hard drive. That should let you easily revert any changes just in case you need the Tools Pane in the future.
Step 6: Once again, right-click the file, but this time, select Open With.
Step 7: On the pop-up box that shows up, select Notepad, and then click OK.
Note: If you don't see Notepad listed within the box, click More Apps to bring it up to view.
Step 8: Highlight and delete the portion of text between and including the <Layouts> and </Layouts> tags as displayed on the screenshot below.
Step 9: Click File, and then click Save. Afterward, exit Notepad.
Launch Adobe Reader DC, and voila! You should find the Tools pane gone for good. No more accidentally bringing it up when using the scroll bar.
Tip: If you want to get the Tools pane back, simply copy and overwrite the modified Viewer.aapp file with the backup file that you created earlier.
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The Tools Pane is super-annoying, but you now know how to either hide it or remove the thing permanently from view. And also, you should find yourself much more focused right from the get-go since you don't have to worry about dealing with such an annoyance anymore. Good riddance!
So, what do you think of Adobe's petty attempts at making users upgrade to a paid version? The comments section is right below.