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Essential Skills: Quickly Changing PDF Page Display

By October 8, 2013June 6th, 2022No Comments

Learning how to display PDFs to your liking is key. Obviously, right?

If you can’t easily make a PDF display information the way you want, then you’ll be reluctant to use PDFs. And, instead, eager to fire up your printer.

PDF page display icons

First, let’s focus on is the two icons that are in the toolbar of every new edition of Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat.

I’ve even circled the icons for you, so you can find them quickly.  They will always be right next to each other, just like this. Acrobat Reader PDF Toolbar The icon on the left has a thick black bar across what are supposed to be the bottom of one page, and the top of another. Clicking this icon will “enable scrolling.” Which means that you’ll be able to move from page to page fluidly, like scrolling in a browser.

The icon to the right is the “single page view” and it clicking it will make the entire page snap into view. No scrolling is allowed; the next page will snap into view when you try to move to a new page.

Why would you care about using one of these options over the other?

In my experience the “single page view” is usually preferable, except when you need to select text that runs across two pages. Which you’d probably be doing to copy it, so you can paste it somewhere else.

I don’t like the scrolling view, unless I’m copying and pasting text.

Use “Single Page View” at first

I generally like to open up a PDF into “single page view” so I can get a sense of what the whole page looks like. Then I want to immediately want the PDF as wide as possible, so I can read the text more easily (making the PDF view wider makes the text bigger).

I shift this view a lot.  So much so that I’ve memorized the keyboard shortcuts for “Single Page View,” and “Fit Width” (which is the wide view I just mentioned).

Here’s how you can quickly, and easily, train yourself to do the same thing. Start with the main modifier key that’s used in virtually every keyboard shortcut related to PDFs. If you’re on a PC you use the Control Key, and if you’re on a Mac you use the Command Key.

Crucial Keyboard Shortcuts with Numbers 0 and 2

While holding down the Control/Command key for your computer, you next press “0” (zero) to get “Fit Page.” The zero is all the way to the right, obviously. To get the the “Fit Width” you’d pick “2, “a number almost all the way to the left. (Why couldn’t Adobe make it easier by making it number “1”? Who knows? But if you accidentally hit number “1” it’ll look close to what you want. It’s not really, though. You want number 2. Trust me.)

So, next time you open a PDF, try practicing making this shift in view. Hold down the Command (Mac) or Control (PC) key, and just alternate between the 0, and 2. Back and forth, back and forth. Those are the views you will most often want. So it is worth making the process of shifting between them totally instinctive.

When you find that you aren’t getting a true full page view, it’ll be because the “enable scrolling” is on. That’s when you click the icon on the toolbar.

Master this skill (which ain’t hard, right?) and you’ll be a lot more comfortable dealing with PDFs. And less likely to print something out just to read it.

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