The problem I am having is that whatever I do or disable I cannot stop AcroTray.exe from Adobe starting at boot and doing... whatever it is that it is doing, until it is stopped manually via task manager:

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Naturally I disabled it on "Start-up":

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And even set to "stopped" all services that are related with Adobe:

  • AdobeARMService
  • AGSService

Adobe DC, Acrobat Reader X & Creative Cloud are all set to manual or no updates (inside the applications).

I have tried:

  • Deleting the exe - just gets put back silently, like a virus
  • Quarantining the app via virus protection software - This sort of works, but I get a popup at each start up warning that AcroTray.exe has tried to start which is just as frustrating
  • "Locking" the folder via 3rd party app - stops it, but pops up a warning every boot again

I understand that this app does something but I want explicit control of when it does that and I absolutely hate that it ignores being disabled. All the other Adobe helper apps launch when one of the suite of programs is started and that is totally fine, that's what they are supposed to do, but AcroTray seemingly can't be prevented from running at boot and sitting there in the running processes, glowering at me.

Is there anyway to stop AcroTray.exe starting at boot other than uninstalling Adobe DC &/or Acrobat Reader X (that doesn't also replace it starting with some kind of warning or pop up)?

  • 4
    You can prevent this behavior by using a program like AutoRuns. Just delete the registry entry that handles this behavior.
    – Ramhound
    Mar 11, 2016 at 19:12
  • I'll try that, but won't Adobe just put it back next time I start DC or Acrobat, or update the applications?
    – tymothytym
    Mar 11, 2016 at 19:18
  • I personally have never had the icon in the years I have been using Acrobat because of the suggestion I made.
    – Ramhound
    Mar 11, 2016 at 19:23
  • 1
    Thanks, that seems to have solved it. It looks like there is a Scheduled task that puts it back, so I deleted that too and it wasn't started when I rebooted....
    – tymothytym
    Mar 11, 2016 at 19:25
  • @tymothytym I was just going to suggest checking for a scheduled task that may be launching it.
    – root
    Mar 11, 2016 at 19:32

2 Answers 2

  1. Go to Services.msc (hit Win and write in search services.msc) and run it as Administrator. Here set Adobe Acrobat Update and Adobe Genuine Software Integrity Services to manuall.
  2. From Windows Task Manager → Start-up Tab disable the Adobe related programs.
  3. Download Autoruns utility and disable here also various Adobe related programs like Adobe Updater Startup Utility and Acrobat Assistant (AcroTray) and maybe Adobe Acrobat Synchronizer. But be careful, if you are not sure about something, then leave it be.
  4. Download ShellExView, go to Options and select Show 32-bit Shell Ex extensions. Now disable the Adobe Acrobat Create PDF from Selection, Adobe Acrobat Create PDF Helper and Adobe Acrobat Create PDF Toolbar. Now in Options deselect Show 32-bit Shell Extensions and disable again the above items plus Acrobat Elements Context Menu.
  5. Now Kill the AcroTray.exe from Task Manager. Sign out and Sign in into Windows. Open Task Manager and observe the Task Manager for AcroTray.exe entry. Right Click on some .pdf file (image or office file) on your desktop and you will see that AcroTray is not starting to run anymore in your Task Manager. If this is the case you made it!
  6. Run Task Scheduler, check for Adobe Tasks (if any) and disable them.

Explanation: The first, second and third step disable Adobe related programs from running at Windows OS startup. But AcroTray.exe is invoked by right clicking on files and folders (windows context menu). It is responsible for the Adobe related entries in the context menu. The biggest problem of all is that right clicking is much slower, because AcroTray.exe must be first started.

Now AcroTray.exe won't be starting anymore when right clicking on Files/Folders. But other programs might start AcroTray.exe if there is a dependency. For example if you open Outlook 2013 and navigate to the Tab Adobe PDF and select a item from here it will start AcroTray.exe.

The fourth step: stop invoking AcroTray.exe when right clicking on files SehllExView disable Adobe in context menu

  • 2
    This answer is VERY important because the 2+ hours of research I did did not solve this problem but this solution is different because it recommends you run AutoRuns. I checked the auto-updater in: startup, acrobat-->settings, services.msc, msconfig and none of these helped. AutoRuns revealed the problem was in Windows Task Scheduler. Aug 7, 2016 at 17:52
  • Disabling all Adobe entries with ShellExView (even under 32-bit) didn't work for me. I had to manually use regedit to delete HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers\Adobe.Acrobat.ContextMenu
    – reflexiv
    Sep 9, 2017 at 17:43

For Windows 10:

  1. Press the Windows+R keys, type services.msc in the dialog box and press Enter. Once the services window is opened, double click on all the Adobe services, click Stop then click the drop down menu and select Disable.

  2. Right click on the task bar, click Task Manager, go to Startup and disable all Adobe services.

  3. Press Windows+R and in the dialog box type msconfig, under General change from Normal to Selective startup and tick the boxes for Load system services and Load startup items.

This solved the problem for me.

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