In Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, presently 2015.007.20033, how do I prevent the sidebar from opening by default?

It's not so bad when a PDF document is in portrait mode, but opening one in landscape takes up too much real estate.

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February 1, 2017 update

The previously accepted answer is no longer correct for newer versions of Adobe.

Please refer to the new answer for newer versions of Adobe; both Windows and Mac.


11 Answers 11


2017 Update

Newer versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader DC have changed both the wording and the function within Preferences. Instead of unchecking the option to open the Tools Pane by default, the application will now remember whether it was shown or hidden previously.

Before you change your preferences, open Acrobat Reader and from the Menu Bar and navigate to View > Show/Hide > Tools Pane to hide it accordingly.

Menu Bar - Tools Pane

More recent iterations of of Acrobat Reader DC will still display a set of icons near the right side of your PDF document after you hide the Tools Pane. However, you can easily hide them by clicking on the icon at the bottom-right that allows you to Hide Task Pane.

Hide Task Pane

Once that is done, use the Menu Bar (or press Ctrl+K) to select Edit > Preferences and in the subsequent window highlight Documents on the upper-left. Check the box to Remember current state of Tools Pane and then select the OK button.


2024 Update

With the latest version of Acrobat Reader, the GUI has been changed again. If you prefer to utilize the previous interface, you can do the following:

In the upper-left corner select Menu to expand the options and then choose Disable new Acrobat Reader.

Disable New Acrobat Reader

After an application restart, Acrobat Reader will be returned to the legacy GUI.

If you eventually decide to use new interface, you can re-enable it from the Menu Bar by navigating to View > Enable new Acrobat Reader.

Enable new Acrobat Reader

The new Acrobat Reader GUI features an All tools menu that can be hidden in a similar manner to its predecessor. Simply click on the "X" in the upper-right corner of the All tools pane to collapse it.

Close All Tools

After that, click on Menu (or press Ctrl+K) to select Preferences and in the subsequent window highlight Documents on the upper-left. Check the box to Remember last state of the All tools pane when opening documents and then select the OK button.

Remember last state of the All Tools pane

  • In the version I tried on (version 11.0.4, "Acrobat Reader XI" - company-supplied), both "Tools Pane", "Page Controls", and "Button Labels" are absent from the "Show/Hide" sub menu (for a total of four items, instead of seven). Thus, I can not chose "Tools Pane". Mar 3, 2017 at 9:54
  • @PeterMortensen, that's unfortunate. To be honest, I haven't actually seen an Acrobat Reader XI interface in quite some time, since Acrobat Reader DC was released in mid-2015. At the moment, the latest version of Acrobat Reader XI is 11.0.19 and missing 15 security updates related to Acrobat software could be problematic. Hopefully your company will update to the newest version sometime soon.
    – Run5k
    Mar 3, 2017 at 13:08
  • for me it was (shift+f4) remember to press fn in case!
    – Akam
    Jul 15, 2017 at 12:14
  • +1, but doesn't quite work for me in 19.010.20098. Instead, ignore the bit about view > show/hide > tools pane, and manually turn off both of those incredibly irritating sidebars with the little arrow keys on them. Now set 'Remember current state of tools pane'. Docs now open with no sidebars.
    – EML
    Mar 27, 2019 at 9:42
  • 1
    Make sure you close all tabs except one then try this. In my case, it seemed to get confused when doing the above despite all tabs having minimized toolbars.
    – 8bitme
    Mar 19, 2020 at 14:11

As of Feb 1, 2017: Adobe Reader DC changed its interface. Please see newly accepted answer: https://superuser.com/a/1173789/259665

For versions c. 2015/2016:

In the 15.008.20082 release (July 14, 2015), Adobe addressed this with a setting! Here's how to change this:

Go to Edit > Preferences (or press Ctrl+K) and under “Documents” section, uncheck “Open tools pane for each document”.

adobe preferences > documents > Open Settings

  • 16
    Is there any way to COMPLETELY hide the pane? Technically the pane collapses to a narrow pane, not disappears. The problem is that, the collapsed pane is still quite wide (with my high DPI setting, it looks like 0.5 cm on my monitor) and is right next to the scroll bar. It is very easy to click it accidentally when I tried to click the scroll bar, and when it is clicked the tools pane opens. In previous versions, the hide/expand button was on the top-right of the window, which did not cause this kind of problem. Sep 17, 2015 at 9:03
  • 9
    It didn't worked for me, until I first hide it manually in the document that was open, then went to the setting, checked and unchecked it again, accepted, and closed the document. Running latest version 1/Oct/2015 on Win10. Oct 1, 2015 at 8:11
  • 3
    @Everyone, who has a non-English Adobe Reader DC Version: Initially, I had the German version. It does not have this option. I could only disable the sidebar after switching the UI language to English. Oct 2, 2015 at 12:57
  • 3
    This setting doesn't work for me. I'm running Windows 7 64-bit, Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (15.009.20071), no updates pending. Whether I manually hide the tools pane, and then uncheck this box, or even start the AcroRd32.exe via "Run as Administrator" and do the same, the setting has no effect on documents that I open subsequently. It remains unchecked, but simply does not hide this pane. Any ideas? Anyone else have this problem? I'd prefer not to use the hacks below. Oct 27, 2015 at 16:48
  • 1
    @MichaelRepucci Uninstall Adobe Reader, run CCleaner, reboot, install Adobe Reader, and try the checkbox again. If that doesn't work then you might need to post your own question on superuser.com
    – MonkeyZeus
    Nov 3, 2015 at 21:14

Apparently, there is no setting for this in the Preferences or anywhere else. So we're all stuck with the "Tools Pane" (this is what Adobe calls it) with every new document we open.

There is a keyboard shortcut to hide/reveal it: Shift-F4 will do the trick. Of course that is nowhere near a solution for this issue, not even a workaround, but still.

Like many other users I think the inability to hide the Tools Pane by default is ridiculous, so let's file bug reports with Adobe en masse using this URL: https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/mmform/index.cfm?name=wishform

  • 1
    The Tools pane can be eliminated by deleting files as indicated in this answer. Jun 16, 2015 at 20:35
  • 2
    @KevinThibedeau, note the less destructive method here superuser.com/a/918966/16966, no file deletion or loss of functionality needed. Jul 10, 2015 at 18:51
  • Shift-F4 also leaves small version of Tools Pane
    – Dims
    Nov 24, 2018 at 15:42

A less destructive method of resolving this was posted in Adobe's forums: How do I remove the right hand pane in Reader DC.

The solution is edit the XML file "Adobe/Acrobat Reader DC/Reader/AcroApp/ENU/Viewer.aapp" to contain only this:

<Application xmlns="http://ns.adobe.com/acrobat/app/2014" title="Viewer" id="Viewer" majorVersion="1" requiresDoc="true" minorVersion="0">

This will result in the Tools Pane being hidden by default, but without the loss of functionality (and potential crashes) as is the case with the method involving moving files.

  • 1
    Nice. Just in case this also works on OS X, for anyone doing the above: this may break its digital signature then. But I guess that only affects firewall settings, if Reader would need to be allowed to accept incoming connections. And I doubt Reader would need those, so no problem, I guess.
    – Arjan
    May 24, 2015 at 17:44
  • 2
    Great answer. It also looks like you could use this to make a new default, say if you wanted the left-hand pane opened to "Page Thumbnails" or the like.
    – CBono
    Jun 1, 2015 at 3:17
  • 3
    In the file path, "ENU" refers to locale. So, you need to edit the file from the path of your current locale. In my case was "ESP" (Spanish). It works, thanks!
    – IvanRF
    Jun 17, 2015 at 18:04
  • 3
    Thank you ! In windows OS works perfectly. Besides, for different locales, you have different folders, change them all. An you can comment the inside with <!-- (stuff to ignore here) -->, like: <Application xmlns="ns.adobe.com/acrobat/app/2014" title="Viewer" id="Viewer" majorVersion="1" requiresDoc="true" minorVersion="0"> <!-- <Layouts> <Layout name="Default"> <RHP> <Component name="AppShortcutListView" type="Custom"/> </RHP> </Layout> </Layouts> --> </Application> Jul 6, 2015 at 15:39
  • 2
    I looked for reference docs on the Viewer.aapp file, thinking an increase in elegance of this approach would be to add something like <state = "collapsed"> to <Layout> element. I failed, but did locate DC Tools Customization which describes related Windows registry entries and might eventually lead to something else closer to what we're after. Jul 10, 2015 at 19:17

There is a workaround that may work. It involves removing some files (adobe applets) to another directory.

User jerryANDtom pointed it out in a thread on the Adobe forum:

Go to the install directory, i.e. C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat Reader DC\Reader\AcroApp\ENU
Create a new subfolder (I used Disabled).
Move three files from the ENU folder into the new Disabled folder: AppCenter_R.aapp, Home.aapp and Viewer.aapp.
Open a PDF and no more Tool Pane!

  • 2
    There are definitely side effects, one is a crash when you select the commenting tool and close the comment pane (which leads to the tools shortcut pane to be displayed) v15.009
    – Martin
    Dec 9, 2015 at 15:49

@Glauco Aquino

Great answer! Just in case there are any Mac users with the same problem, the same steps can be applied to Mac OS X, originally posted by myself on the same thread on the Adobe forum.

Just ensure you've properly closed and quit the "Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.app" application first:

  1. Open Finder, navigate to Applications
  2. Right-click on "Adobe Acrobat Reader DC" and select "Show Package Contents"
  3. Navigate to /Contents/Resources/AcroApp/ENU/ (or whatever 3-letter language code you're using)
  4. *** Create a new folder. Name the folder "Disabled".
  5. *** Move the following 3 files into the "Disabled" folder: AppCenter_R.aapp; Home.aapp; Viewer.aapp If you're doing this via mouse drag-and-drop, ensure you hold down the Command key, to ensure the files are moved and not copied.
  6. Close Finder, and launch Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

*** You may have to authorise these actions with your administrator password.

  • There's no need to down-vote this answer, it was useful back for the specific version of Adobe DC reader back in 2015, and I don't want to lose Stack Exchange points unfairly. But now, 8 years later, you should not use my suggestion in tandem with the new versions of the Adobe DC software. I'm keeping my original answer here for archival purposes, or anybody who might be using the old software. Sep 13, 2023 at 14:55

This annoying feature can also be disabled by altering the following registry setting:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Adobe\Acrobat Reader\DC\AVGeneral]

However it may seem strange, the value 1 means that the right-hand pane is disabled (hidden) by default. It corresponds to “Open tools pane for each document”, under “Documents” section in “Edit > Preferences”.

  • What is the point of doing this when you can do the same thing by going into Preferences inside Acrobat?
    – CJ7
    Nov 28, 2016 at 2:28
  • 8
    @CJ7 Automation. For example, import the setting into multiple PCs by means of group policy in a corporate environment. Nov 28, 2016 at 8:06
  • Source : helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/kb/…
    – deltonio2
    Aug 8, 2019 at 18:01

The Tools bar is somewhat confusing and I didn't like them. I wish there was a permanent way to remove them from Preferences/Settings.

For the current Adobe Reader DC running instance, there is a way to hide the tool bar. Try the "Read Mode (Ctrl+H)" command. This will make the Tools bar disappear for the current session.

I wish Adobe Team adds this setting somewhere under Preferences in future updates of the product.

  • I see. Thank you for your suggestion, the shortcut which you mention is certainly helpful. As for the permanent solution you seek, is there anything wrong with this answer?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Sep 3, 2015 at 16:06
  • There is nothing wrong in that answer. But It still leaves the Sidebar hidden with a thin column at the right side. This column contains arrow (<) to expand this section again. Keeping a UI element very close to scrollbar is not a good idea (My personal feedback - based on my long term relationship with Microsoft Windows) :-) I am used to move my mouse to extreme right of the screen to use scroll bar. But with Adobe Reader DC hidden sidebar, I mistakenly click on the Sidebar instead of the scrollbar.
    – kamleshrao
    Sep 3, 2015 at 16:10

Changing preferences in Acrobat Reader DC (2015.020.20039) didn't work for me either.

Setting registry key:

HKCU\Software\Adobe\Acrobat Reader\DC\Access bOverridePageLayout (default value 0)

to 1 did the trick!


I don't have the option to Open tools pane for each document, or Remember current state of Tools Pane. I'm using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC 2015.006.3033.

I did some digging and found if you edit the file C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat 2015\Acrobat\AcroApp\ENU\Viewer.aapp . If you use <!-- and --> to comment out <Layouts>. Relaunch Adobe it looks to work.

This would leave the file looking like this:

<Application xmlns="http://ns.adobe.com/acrobat/app/2014" title="Viewer" id="Viewer" majorVersion="1" requiresDoc="true" minorVersion="0">
        <Layout name="Default">
                <Component name="AppShortcutListView" type="Custom"/>


  • To clarify, Adobe didn't really change it again. The original question specifically emphasizes how to do this in Adobe Acrobat Reader, not Acrobat Pro. There are minor interface differences between the two versions. I double-check that the accepted solution still works every time that Adobe updates Acrobat Reader DC.
    – Run5k
    Mar 1, 2019 at 14:14
  • 1
    I am sure that Pro users will also stumble upon my question in hopes of a solution so I appreciate this unique answer. What's interesting is that someone made a comment similar to your answer a few years ago. I have no clue if it's 100% interchangeable but having multiple possible solutions around Adobe's shenanigans is always a good thing!
    – MonkeyZeus
    Mar 3, 2019 at 18:32

I tried Adobe Acrobat Reader vers. 23.001.20064; but every technique I tried didn't work. They are quite adamant about spamming you with their Tools Pane with every document you open. (They are also quite adamant about not letting you disable automatic updates.) I suggest an alternative PDF reader, like Foxit or SumatraPDF; but for the few documents, e.g. our state taxes, that require the actual Acrobat Reader, the only solution I found was drop back to an older version, from a slightly less insipid time: vers. 2021.001.20155. The install file is named AcroRdrDC2100120155_en_US.exe. The closest version I could find of it onine was here. That's a 2021 version, instead of 2023. In the 2021 version, checking "Remember current state of Tools Pane" actually does something besides blowing smoke up behind you.

  • I found a way to hide it in the latest version: First, click on the vertical button ▶ so that the panel turns into a column of icons, and then click on the bottom icon, which looks like |→. Also need to check on the box Remember current state of Tools Pane (Edit > Preferences > Documents)
    – ViH
    May 1, 2023 at 18:41
  • @ViH can you please explain in more detail what you mean? I don't know where the "vertical button" is or what panel you are referring to.
    – mhdadk
    Jun 3, 2023 at 18:46
  • @mhdadk, you can see the "▶" in the screenshot of the first post above the word "stahp".
    – ViH
    Jun 5, 2023 at 5:41

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