Getting Started

This guide describes pre-deployment planning and configuration.

Before deployment you should know the following:

Planning basics


Recommendation and notes

Acrobat or Reader?

Acrobat requires licensing. Reader requires a distribution agreement.

Acrobat Pro vs. Standard?

There is a single installer and the license determines what installs. Standard is unavailable on Macintosh.

Licensing program?

ELTA, VIP, TLP, etc?: The program type determines what track you can use et. al.

License types?

Serial number, Named User (recommended), or Feature Restriced Licensing?

Track type?

Continuous or Classic? Continuous is recommended: deployments with NUL and services support the most options.

Product version?

Ideally, you don’t care and are installing the latest. However, features do vary by version.

Basic configuration

Admins typically suppress registration, accept the EULA, etc. Most of this you can do on the cmd line, but you can also use the Wizard.

Advanced configuration

Use the Wizard and manual registry configuration to customize nearly any feature.

Acrobat Pro vs. Standard

Acrobat Professional and Standard are delivered as a single installer. Product behavior and features become enabled based on the entitlements granted by the licensing methodology (a user ID or serial number).

After extracting the .exe, you’ll see AcroPro.msi in the output folder. This is the correct behavior. Simply use AcroPro.msi in any command line scripts whether you’re installing Pro or Standard.


Update existing scripts that use AcroStan.msi.

Tracks: Continuous or Classic?

products provide two tracks: Continuous (recommended) and Classic. These tracks provide different features, benefits, and update methodologies. Know which track you’ve purchased or need. For details, see Document Cloud Product Tracks.

Product version

Continuous and Classic track release schedules and their respective versions vary, but both share an identical versioning methodology. In it’s generic form, the version number will appear as major.minor.minor_minor.







The last two digits of the release year.*



An internal number indicating when code moves from Trunk to Beta.



The first two digits indicate the track. 20 = Continuous. 30 = Classic.

Hidden 4th field

Changelist number

Only visible if user clicks on the version number in the About box.

* The year-based version number is not the same as the Classic track name. While the Classic track version begins with 15 and the current track version is 2015, the track name only changes at each major release–not every year. The version number increments every year.

License types

A note on terminology:

  • licensing = provisioning = activation.

  • Licensing results in assigning “entitlements” to the user or install. For example, the use of certain cloud services.

  • “Registration” was historically used to declare ownership. In named user licensing environments, user log in is the defacto registration.

Serialized-license key

License the product with a physical key. The Continuous track does not support serialized licensing after December, 2018.

Named user licensing

Named user licensing (NUL) is the preferred activation method. You can migrate serial installs to NUL.

Acrobat products support NUL and user management via the Admin Console. The Console supports managing single user and group entitlements for all Adobe products as well as Single Sign-On. It also provides tools for managing software, users, and devices and support multiple ID types . With NUL, end users simply “activate” Acrobat by logging in to any VM or machine. License-related data is saved in <user>/appdata/Roaming folder which is synced to the VM on login.

Feature restricted licensing

FRL supports the following virtual environments: Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop, VMWare Horizon, and RDS/WTS.

Feature restricted Licensing (FRL) provides an alternative to serialized (license key) and named user deployment which can be set up and managed via the Admin Console. Enterprise can use FRL to control data flow in restricted network environments. Use FRL when end users either don’t have access to the internet or are not allowed to use online services. Note the following:

  • FRL restricts access to certain Adobe apps and services.

  • Continuous track only. Not supported on the Classic track.

  • You can create a new FRL package as well as move existing installs to FRL.

You can create a new FRL package as well as move existing installs to FRL. See

Installer file types

New and existing installations may work with one or more of the following file types.

  • MSI: A full installer.

  • EXE: A full installer. Use 7z to extract the EXE into separate files.

  • MST: The Wizard creates Windows transform files.

  • MSP: Patches and quarterly updates.

Verifying download authenticity

If you need to check the authenticity of the installer, check its signature using third party tools:

  1. Right click on the installer.

  2. Choose Properties > Digital Signature.

  3. Select Adobe Systems from the signature list.

  4. Choose Details.

  5. Read the signature status.

You can also view the certificate, the counter signer’s certificate, and the certificate chain to the trust anchor for both.

Expanding EXE packages

These steps apply to EXE installers, including those downloaded from the Reader Download Center, the download site, or Adobe’s LWS site. Note the following:

  • The compression technology changed from Nosso to 7-zip for 10.0 and later.

  • EXEs are only created for the base install, quarterly releases where the second dot increments (rare), and quarterly releases for the en, jp, fr, de, and es languages.

  • EXEs don’t need expansion during bootstrapper deployments.

  • EXEs provide preconfigured chained installs, but you can download individual MSPs from the download site.

  • If you are using SMS (not officially supported since 9.0) and do not need to customize the installer, you can use the Nosso-compressed file directly with the SMS installer.

To expand an EXE:

  1. Open a command prompt.

  2. Expand the MSI package with 7-zip command line switches. The general form of the command to convert a compressed file to an MSI package is:

  • Reader EXE (32-bit and 64-bit): <path to installer><product_name>.exe -sfx_o”<absolute pathextractDirectory>” -sfx_ne

  • Actobat EXE (32-bit and 64-bit): • <path to installer><product_name>.exe /d “<absolute pathextractDirectory>” /x /s


There must be no space between the 7-zip switch and the path.

You can also combine other 7-zip commands to change the install worflow. For example, -sfx_nu can also be combined with -sfx_o and -sfx_ne to silently extract the installation files without actually triggering the installation. The command for doing the same would be:

AcroRdr20151500630032_MUI.exe -sfx_nu /sALL /msi EULA_ACCEPT=YES

Update order

All updates, including out of cycle patches, are cumulative to the base release. Chaining updates is never required. For all products and tracks, install the base release and the last update.

Fonts and spelling packs

Some components use separate installers. These should be downloaded and run at deployment time. The following items for Windows require running an additional installer:

For older product versions, see:

Reader distribution

To distribute the desktop or mobile Reader in any form, do the following:

  1. Go to

  2. Choose Apply to distribute Reader.

  3. Fill out and submit the form. After responding, you will be notified within two days whether your application has been accepted or denied.

Your confirmation e-mail will contain a link for the Reader download. The license agreement is good for one download. The license agreement is good for one year, and you will receive a reminder by e-mail in advance of the expiration date.

Product compatibility

Different versions of Acrobat and Reader can coexist on a single machine as follows:

  • Continuous and Classic tracks can reside on the same machine.

  • Major versions of different products can coexist; for example, Reader with Acrobat

  • A more recent version of Acrobat with the next older version of Reader (11.x).

Installation best practices

  • Start with a fresh set of files.

  • Back up the original install files (base + update + MST). Do not modify the original download.

  • Accept the Reader Distribution Agreement.

  • Before updating, verify what’s already installed. It is possible to have different versions of Acrobat and Reader on the same machine.

  • Know the supported update order: Updates are cumulative to the base release.

  • When installing a product of one type over another type (e.g. Acrobat Pro Extended on machines where Acrobat Standard is already installed), always uninstall the other product first. Do not rely on MSI parameters such as REINSTALLMODE=amus to do the work for you.

  • Develop a pre-deployment configuration plan. Know what settings, files, and functionality you need to support or block. Save your MST for future use (if any).

  • Adopt an update strategy. Many admins disable updates to control deployments. If you can, leave updates set to install automatically.

  • Know the product end of life schedule

Typical deployment workflow

  1. Read the release notes. These provide links to installers as well as details about new features and bugs.

  2. Download the requisite installer(s).

  3. Preconfigure the installer via the Customization Wizard or manual registry configuration.

  4. Set cmd line properties as needed to perform the actual install:

    • If you’re using the MSI installer, configure abcpy.ini.

    • If you’re using the Setup.exe bootstrapper installer, configure setup.ini.

    • On your command line, you can use msiexec and Adobe properties and switches.

  1. Deploy according to the recommendations in this guide.

Subscribing to alerts

Subscribe to the security notification service to receive an email whenever a scheduled update or patch is available. You can also manually check these pages:

Acrobat trials

Trials are only available for Acrobat Professional. Acrobat Standard does not offer trials. An Adobe ID is required to install a trial.

Sometimes it may be expedient to install the product without a serial number. For example, when creating a disk image for trial use or when you don’t know how many seats you may eventually need. To do so, install the product without a serial number prior to creating your image. If you do not pass a serial number via one of the supported methods, a trial version of the product is automatically installed.

For information about migrating a trial to a licensed version, see Licensing a trial.

The workflow is generally as follows: