© 2018 Adobe Inc. All rights reserved.

Updated Dec 21, 2018.

Administration Basics

Latest release: Acrobat DC

If you’re installing the latest “DC” products, please see Document Cloud Product Tracks.

Managing entitlements

Serialized vs. named user licensing

DC products support both serialized and named user licensing. Support for enterprise and federated IDs as well as the ability to manage usage rights via the Admin Console provides admins with new tools for managing software, users, and devices. For a comparison of the two entitlement types, see Document Cloud Product Tracks.

The Adobe Admin Console provides a central location for managing your Adobe entitlements, including specific users and groups, across your entire organization. The dashboard allows you to manage licenses for users and groups for all Adobe products. For more information, see:

Signing up for update/patch 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:

Installation best practices

  • Start with a fresh set of files.

  • Accept the Reader Distribution Agreement.

  • On Windows:

    • Create an MST file or make changes on the command line.
    • Set the file’s read-only attribute on a vendor MSI for which you’re creating a transform.
    • Save your MST in case you need to upgrade with a full installer (MSI or EXE) which would uninstall the existing Reader installation and remove your customizations.
  • If there is a problem, patch a virgin copy of the original files as a test.

  • Before updating, verify what’s already installed. Two versions of Acrobat or two versions of Reader cannot coexist. It is possible to have different versions of Acrobat and Reader on the same machine.

  • Know the supported update order: DC products: All updates, including out of cycle patches, are cumulative to the base release. Chaining updates is never required.

  • 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.

  • 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: The schedule is set several years in advance as described at http://www.adobe.com/support/products/enterprise/eol/eol_matrix.html#86.

  • Back up the original files. Do not modify the original download. If you are doing a chained installation, the archive folder should contain the major release installer and the requisite update files. For example:

    • 10.x and later products offer cumulative installers (quarterly installers are cumulative to the last MSI and patches are cumulative to the last quarterly. Thus, for an upgrade to 10.1, the folder would contain a copy of the original installation media as well as the 10.1 update.
    • Older installers are not cumulative. For example, if installing 9.0 and the 9.1 and 9.1.2 updates and patches, the folder would contain the original installation media as well as all required updates.

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. Options include:

    • Windows: Customization Wizard and manual registry modification
    • Macintosh: Customization Wizard and manual plist modification
  1. 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.


    • Use the Adobe Provisioning Tool to set properties for preserialization, EULA suppression, etc.
  2. Deploy according to the recommendations in this guide.

Enterprise vs. end user


DC products provide two tracks. Classic track numbered installers (2015|2017) are typically deployed by enterprise while “DC” installers are usually installed by end users. However, this method is not a requirement.

Enterprise installers

Adobe provides enterprise IT with a download site that contains all available installers. Most admins download the product, updates, and patches from ftp://ftp.adobe.com/pub/adobe/reader/ (or Acrobat). This FTP site provides the following:

  • An archive of all currently supported binaries for all products, versions, updates, and patches.
  • Deprecated application versions which are no longer supported.
  • Vanilla installers without additional components. For example, 9.x installers on the FTP site do not include the Adobe Air runtime (9.x).

End user installers

End users typically download installers from the Reader Download Center (RDC) at http://get.adobe.com/reader/. These installers always provide the latest version of the product.

Identifying download authenticity

If you need to perform additional authenticity checks other than getting your download from adobe.com or ftp://ftp.adobe.com/pub, check the installer’s 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.


If you download from Adobe’s download center, Adobe’s download manager downloads the bits. Once you mount the dmg, verify its signature using the codesign tool:

$ codesign -vvv /Volumes/Adobe\ Reader\ Installer/Install\ Adobe\ Reader.app

To check a pkg which has been extracted from a dmg:

$ pkgutil --check-signature Adobe\ Reader\ XI\ Installer.pkg


pkgutil --check-signature AdbeRdrUpd(version).pkg

Expanding EXE packages

These steps apply to EXE installers, including those downloaded from the Reader Download Center, the FTP 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 FTP 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 a set of command line switches. The general form of the command to convert a compressed file to an MSI package is:
<path>\<product_name>.exe <7-zip switches and optional Acrobat switches>]

Expanding the installer

<path>\Acrobat_2017_Web_WWMUI.exe -sfx_o"<absolute path\extractDirectory>" -sfx_ne

Expanding the exe and installation (single step)

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


Do not use the current directory, and do not leave any spaces after the -sfx_o command.

7-zip switches
7-zip (10.x and later) Description
-sfx_ne Do not execute any file after installation (overrides the -e switch) This switch should be used if user only wants to extract the installer contents and not run the installer.
-sfx_o Specifies the name of folder where the expanded package is placed. The folder name should be enclosed in quotation marks. It is best if you do not use an existing folder.
-sfx_nu Silently extracts the installation files from the EXE.

Versioning strategy

Versioning DC tracks

DC track release schedules and their respective versions will be different, but both the Continuous and Classic tracks share an identical methodology. The new strategy is designed to provide better granularity, support more frequent releases, and aid in troubleshooting by providing build information. In it’s generic form, the version number will appear as major.minor.minor_minor.

Version Range Notes
major 1-255 The last two digits of the release year.*
minor 1-255 An internal number indicating when code moves from Trunk to Beta.
minor_minor 1-65535 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.

Installer file types

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

  • Windows

    • MSI: A full installer. Only the Acrobat base install is ever an MSI. For Reader, MSI’s may occasionally be released when the second dot number is incremented (e.g. 10.0 > 10.1).
    • EXE: A full installer. Only the Acrobat base install is ever an EXE. For Reader, EXE’s may occasionally be released when the second dot number is incremented (e.g. 10.0 > 10.1), but they are often available for quarterly releases of tier 1 languages.
    • MSP: An incremental patch installer.
    • MST: MST files are used for a Microsoft Windows Installer transform. The file can perform transforms, adds, deletes, or change properties in a Microsoft Windows Installer (.MSI) package to enable customization of the installation for different groups of users. If you’re using the Customization Wizard, you’ll create an MST file that is applied to the original MSI file.
  • Macintosh

    • PKG: Includes both full and update installers. The download is a DMG file.

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.

Reader distribution

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

  1. Go to http://www.adobe.com/products/reader/rdr_distribution1.html.
  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.


For details about Acrobat installations, see Common Deployment Options.

Tuning installers via the Wizard

Windows installer tuning

The Adobe Customization Wizard enables tuning the Windows installer for Acrobat products prior to mass deployments. The Wizard is a free, downloadable utility designed to help IT professionals take greater control of enterprise-wide deployments of any of the Acrobat family of products.

The Wizard enables IT to:

  • Modify the installer via a transform file (MST file) without altering the original package.
  • Optimize installer and installation workflow by including silent installation, pre-serialization, reboot, multilingual, and custom setup choices, including suppressing the EULA, registration prompts, and the Getting Started window.
  • Customize application preferences such as collaboration, security settings, Acrobat.com integration, printing, and most other features.
  • Leverage existing installations by drag and dropping registry settings and files from already configured applications.
  • Prevent users from modifying certain preferences by locking them.

Although many tools such as Orca and Admin Studio can be used to customize Microsoft transform (MST) files, Adobe only supports the Adobe Customization Wizard.

To download the Wizard, go to: DC

The Wizard’s user interface (UI) only provides basic options for feature configuration. Moreover, using the Wizard’s UI to set preferences will result in overwriting existing registry settings that you could otherwise drag and drop from a template application. In other words, you can leverage existing settings from a 10.x or an IT-configured 11.0 install.

  • Feature configuration-Registry: Install and configure the application to suit your environment and the use the Wizard to leverage you changes. Many application preferences and directories do not exist until the code is exercised from an installed application. While you could build the paths and add the values manually, simply configuring an installed application and using it as a template does most of the work for you.
  • Files and Folders: Many template files won’t exist unless you have installed and configured the application. For example, the easiest way to create a directory server file is via the application’s GUI. Use the Wizard to add these files to the installer.

A rich customization workflow includes the following:

  1. Install the new application (or use an already configured existing installation).
  2. Configure the application via its user interface. In particular, go through the menus under Edit > Preferences. Product UI configuration provides a simple way to configure feature through file and registry modification.
  3. Use the Wizard’s Registry feature to drag and drop the configured template registry to the installer.
  4. Use the Wizard UI to configure application preferences not already configured manually.
  5. Lock down features so that settings can not be changed by end users: You can use the Wizard’s UI. Additional lock options are described in the Preference Reference.
  6. Use the Wizard’s Files and Folders feature to drag and drop your enterprise files to the installer.
  7. Save the installer changes to an MST file and install the customized product.
  8. Use MSI and Adobe properties to further modify the install during deployment.

Mac installer tuning

For details, refer to the Customization Wizard for Macintosh documentation.