Section Four: Using Keyboard Commands

People who have a mobility impairment might want to use the single key accelerators to access or switch tools. Adobe® Reader® 6.0.1 also provides robust support for keyboard shortcut access to most tools.

For those using screen magnification or screen reading software with Adobe Reader 6.0, consult the screen magnification Help files for specific support for reading Portable Document Format (PDF) documents.

Some considerations:

  • You should use Adobe Reader 6.0.1 or later.
  • The Mac OS 10.1.2 (and later) includes more keyboard access features than earlier versions.
  • For those using screen magnification or screen reading software, the assistive technology version should work with Adobe Reader 6.01 or later. Consult the assistive technology vendor for this information.
  • In Windows, some of the keyboard shortcuts used to navigate in Adobe Reader 6.0 may differ from those used in other Windows applications.

Checking document accessibility

Before reading a PDF document, it is a good idea to check the anticipated accessibility of the document. If the document is not accessible, it may not be read at all or it may be read in the wrong order.

To use Quick Check, do one of the following:

  • Choose Document > Quick Check.
  • Press Alt + D for Documents, then Q for Quick Check (Windows only).

Setting the single key accelerator preference

In the history of Adobe Reader 6.0 development, single key accelerators were established to improve keyboard access. Although these can still be turned on and used, many generic keyboard shortcuts can be used without turning on the single key accelerators.

To open the Preferences dialog box, and turn on the single key accelerators, do one of the following:

  • Choose Edit > Preferences.
  • Press Alt + E for Edit, then N for Preferences (Windows only).
  • Press Ctrl + K (Windows) or Command + K (Mac OS).

Note that if the JAWS for Windows screen reader is used with screen magnification software, there may be a key conflict with Ctrl + K. If this conflict is encountered, use the JAWS PassKey (Insert + number 3) before pressing Ctrl + K.

When the Preferences dialog box opens, focus will be on the last category modified. Press the first letter of any category to quickly move to it. In this case, press the letter G for the General category. Press the Tab key to move focus to the options for the General category.

The table below shows the keyboard shortcuts for turning on the single key accelerators in the Preferences dialog box.
Windows Mac OS

Press Alt + I to turn on the single key accelerators.

Press Tab to turn on single key accelerators to access tasks.

Using single key accelerators in Adobe Reader 6.0

Below is a description of the single key accelerators. Single key accelerators are those keys that only work if this option is turned on in the General Preferences category. For a complete list of keyboard shortcuts, see “Appendix B: Complete List of Adobe Reader 6.0 Keyboard Commands”.

The following single key accelerators are the same on either Windows or Mac OS. Information on using generic keyboard commands will follow.

Hand tool

The Hand tool, an image of a hand, indicates general reading mode. The single key accelerator to activate the Hand tool is the letter H. Temporarily select the Hand tool by pressing and holding down the spacebar.

Select Text tool

Adobe Reader 6.0 has tools for selecting text or images. The Select Text tool is the default. The other selection tool is Select Image. To activate the current selection tool press the letter V. When the letter V is pressed, if the Select Text tool is the active one, the hand will be replaced by a flashing cursor. This allows movement through the document, character by character, word by word, or the beginning or end of lines. Select characters, words, or lines by holding down the Shift key (Windows) or the Command key (Mac OS) in combination with navigation keys.

To cycle through the selection tools (Select Text or Select Image), press Shift + V. Note that choosing Select Image, requires the cursor to be positioned over an image. Press the left mouse button to select the image.

Snapshot tool

The Snapshot tool can be used by pressing the letter G. This tool is used in conjunction with the mouse. Once invoked, position the cursor over an area of the document, holding down the left mouse button, to crop or select an area of the document to be captured. Once the mouse button is released, a message appears stating that the cropped area has been copied to the Clipboard. Paste the information into documents in other applications.

Zoom tool

Cycle through the zoom tools (Zoom In, Zoom Out, Dynamic Zoom) by pressing Shift + Z.

Use the mouse to select an area in the document on which to use the zoom tool.

Pressing the letter Z by itself will activate the current zoom tool.

To temporarily select the Zoom In tool, press Ctrl + spacebar (Windows) or Command + spacebar (Mac OS). Once the mouse button is released, the original tool is active again.

To temporarily select the Dynamic Zoom tool (when Zoom In or Zoom Out is selected), press the Shift key by itself.

Use the mouse to zoom in or out of the view of the document.

Using single key accelerators in Adobe Acrobat 6.0

These tools assume that the security on a document permits their use. Some authors may have set security levels on a document that do not permit the use of these tools.

Stamp tool

The Stamp tool is activated by pressing the letter K. Once the Stamp tool is activated, position the mouse over the area of the document where the stamp is to appear, and press the left mouse button. For more information on editing and moving stamps, see the Adobe Acrobat® 6.0 Help files.

Highlighting tool

To use the current Highlighting tool, press the letter U. The cursor changes to an Iron beam with a dotted box around it. Position the cursor over the text to be highlighted, hold down the left mouse button, drag it over the desired text. The text is highlighted once the mouse button is released. Note that this tool can’t be used in combination with the Select Text tool.

Press Shift + U, to cycle through Highlighting tools (Highlighter, Cross-Out Text, Underline Text).

Note tool

A note or comment can be created by activating the Note tool. Once activated, use the mouse to highlight the element to make a note on. Releasing the left mouse button will create the note and put the focus in the new note. The single key accelerator for this tool is the letter S. After a note or comment is created, press the Escape key to exit it and return to the document. Note that this tool can’t be used in combination with the Select Text tool.

To move focus to a comment, press the Tab key. Then press the spacebar to open it. Pressing the spacebar again will close it (as long as the note or comment icon in the document has focus). Press the Escape key to remove focus from a note or comment.

Attach File tool

Use the Attach File tool by pressing the letter J. This key changes the cursor to a thumb tack. Position the cursor over the area of the document where the attached file icon should appear, press the left mouse button to open the Select a File to Attach dialog box. Choose the file and click the Select button. A dialog box appears asking what the icon for the attached file should look like (graph, paperclip, attachment, or tag).

Using Adobe Reader 6.0 generic keyboard commands

For best results when reading PDF documents, be sure to use the most current version of Adobe Reader 6.0 as well as the most current version of any assistive technology required. To download the latest version of Adobe Reader 6.0, go to http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2_allversions.html. Note that multiple versions of the Adobe Reader 6.0 download exist.

Keyboard commands listed in this section work on either Windows or Mac OS unless otherwise specified. For a complete list of keyboard commands, see “Appendix B: Complete List of Adobe Reader 6.0 Keyboard Commands”.

Opening a PDF document in Adobe Reader 6.0

When Adobe Reader 6.0 is first launched, no document is open.

To open PDF documents, press Ctrl + O for Open (Windows) or Command + O (Mac OS). The first time a document is opened, the How To window is visible on the right side of the application window.

The Adobe Reader 6.0 interface with the How To window visible

The Adobe Reader 6.0 interface with the How To window visible

The How To window provides help on general tasks without having to search the Help files.

To view the document window without obstruction:

  • To turn off the How To window for the current document press F4. This key is a toggle, so pressing F4 again will bring the How To window back in view when needed.
  • To turn off the How To window at startup, clear the Show How To Window at Startup check box in the How To window. When this tool is needed, press F4 to show it.

Title, menu, and toolbars

At the top of the Adobe Reader 6.0 interface is the title bar containing the application name and the name of the current document.

Under the title bar is the menu bar containing items such as File, Edit, View, Document, Tools, Window, and Help. On a Windows system, pressing the Alt key will move focus to the menu bar. Pressing the Alt key in combination with the keyboard shortcuts in the menu bar will move focus to a specific menu bar item. For example, Alt + F will move focus to and open the File menu. The keyboard shortcuts are the letters that are underlined. Escape will remove focus from the menu bar and will return focus to the document window.

The menu bar can be hidden by pressing F9. This key is a toggle, so pressing F9 again will show the menu bar.

Beneath the menu bar are the toolbars. On Windows, toolbars can be accessed using the keyboard by pressing the Alt key to move focus to the menu bar, then pressing Ctrl + Tab to move to the first toolbar. Ctrl + Tab will move focus through other visible toolbars. Pressing Ctrl + Shift + Tab will move focus to the previous toolbar.

On Mac OS, if Full Keyboard Access is enabled in the system preferences, Control + F5 (the default keyboard command) will move focus to the first toolbar.

To move through toolbar items, press the Tab key to move forward and Shift + Tab to move backward. Pressing Enter on a toolbar icon will activate that function. Escape will remove focus from the toolbar and return focus to the document window. To move focus to a toolbar in a browser, press Shift + F8 on a Windows system. There is no equivalent Mac OS keystroke.

On a Windows system, toolbars can be turned on or off by pressing Alt + V for View, then T for toolbars and pressing the Enter key on the name of a toolbar. If a toolbar is turned on or “checked”, it will be turned off or “unchecked” and if the selected toolbar is unchecked, pressing the Enter key will check it or turn it on.

Main document window

Below the toolbars is the main document area for reading documents. This area can have up to three components. A document must be open to view the Navigation pane. It is on the left side of the screen.

Navigation pane

To reveal the Navigation pane, do one of the following:

  • Choose View > Navigation Tabs > Open Navigation Pane.
  • Choose Alt + V for View, then N, then the letter O for Open Navigation Pane (Windows only).
  • Press F6.

The Navigation pane is located on the left side of the document window and, when closed, only the tabs for items are visible. The Navigation pane tabs include Bookmarks and Comments. F6 is a toggle, so pressing F6 will show or hide the Navigation pane. If the Navigation pane is open, pressing Shift + F6 moves focus between the document and the Navigation pane.

To move through items in the open Navigation pane within the selected tab, use the Tab key. The Tab key moves focus to and shows the category in the active Navigation pane tab.

To move between tabs in the Navigation pane, for example from Bookmarks to Pages, use Ctrl + Tab or Ctrl + Shift + Tab, or the Up Arrow or Down Arrow key when focus is on the tab itself. The Left Arrow key highlights the top tab. The Right Arrow key highlights the bottom tab in an open Navigation pane.

In the Bookmarks tab of the Navigation pane, expand all bookmarks by pressing Shift + * or collapse the selected bookmarks by pressing the Forward Slash key (/). Using the Left Arrow or Right Arrow key on a particular bookmark will collapse or expand the bookmark respectively.

Document window

The main document window is in the center of the screen. When the mouse is moved over this area, the Hand tool, which is the default reading tool, is visible.

To cycle through open documents if the focus is on a document on a Windows system, press Ctrl + F6 (there is no corresponding shortcut for Mac OS). Pressing Ctrl + F4 or Ctrl + W (Windows) or Command + W (Mac OS) will close the current document. To close all open documents, press Ctrl + Shift + W (Windows) or Command + Shift + W (Mac OS).

Pressing Alt + F6 will move focus to the next open palette or dialog box. (There is no Mac OS equivalent for this.)

To move among fields in a document, press the Tab key to move to the next field or Shift + Tab to move focus to the previous field.

To access the context menu reading a document, press either the AppKey or Shift + F10.

A useful browser keyboard command is Ctrl + I (Windows) or Command + I (Mac OS), which opens the Properties dialog box.

How To window

The third component of the main document window is the How To window. As previously mentioned, the How To window is displayed by default. Pressing F4 will either show or hide useful Help topics. The How To window contains links to helpful information on performing general tasks. At the top of the How To window is a “navigation bar” with a left and right arrow to move backward and forward through topics.

To use keyboard commands to move through the topics, press Ctrl + Shift + Tab (Windows only). This key combination moves focus to the How To navigation bar. Press the Enter key on an item, for example on the Back or Forward buttons.

To move focus between the How To window and the main document window, press Shift + F4.

Status bar

The last component of the Adobe Reader 6.0 interface is the Status bar. The Status bar is at the very bottom of the Adobe Reader 6.0 window. Moving from left to right, information is available on the page size, page numbering, and available views of the document.

In the center of the Status bar is a document navigation tool. It shows the current page, the total number of pages in the document, and provides arrow icons to move quickly through pages in the document.

On the right side of the Status bar are icons for viewing the document in Single Page, Continuous, Continuous Facing, or Facing mode.

Move through a document using keyboard commands such as Ctrl + Shift + Page Up (Windows) or Command + Shift + Page Up (Mac OS) to move to the first page of a document, or Ctrl + Shift + Page Down (Windows) or Command + Shift + Page Down (Mac OS) to move to the last page of a document. Page Up and Page Down will move forward one screen and backward one screen respectively.

Pressing Ctrl + Shift + N (Windows), or Command + Shift + N (Mac OS), brings up the Go To Page dialog box, in which a specific page number can be entered.