What was Adobe thinking?

January 13, 2012

What on earth was Adobe thinking when they decided to remove the search from the Adobe Reader toolbar (and Acrobat too, for that matter)?

Someone, somewhere decided that Adobe Reader X (that’s 10 for those of you counting) wouldn’t have a search box (or Find in their terminology), as previous versions of Adobe Reader did.

Here’s what you got in Adobe Reader 8:

And in Adobe Reader 9:

And here’s what you get in Adobe Reader X:

That’s right, NO search/find box or icons!! Nada. Nothing. Nil. Zip.

While you can get these search icons back on to the toolbar (see below for how), Adobe Reader is a ubiquitous program used by millions of people worldwide. Therefore, the user base is extremely varied and CANNOT be assumed to know how to put an icon back on a toolbar or to know about Ctrl+F! Geeks, nerds, techies, those angry/frustrated enough to search the internet will either figure it out or find it out. But what do the ordinary people do — those who aren’t big computer users or who aren’t very computer savvy beyond what they do on the computer regularly? People like my husband (who alerted me to the issue as he had downloaded Adobe Reader X, while I still had the older versions), my parents, my quilting friends?

PDFs aren’t the easiest things in the world to navigate and having a search facility on the toolbar is essential, in my opinion.

Well, the good news is that the search functionality hasn’t gone — it’s only the Find box that’s gone from the toolbar. You can get search icons back on the toolbar… (keep reading for how) and you can get the Find box back (Ctrl+F, or Edit > Find)  but you can’t put the Find box back on the toolbar. Instead, it hovers at the top of the viewport, just below the toolbar.

And it’s a pathetic excuse for a search box too. Why?

  • You can only move it sideways at the top of the viewport, but you can’t drag it onto the toolbar. You can’t move it up or down or dock it anywhere.
  • The area you type in is very narrow. Yes, it will take a long string of text, but you won’t be able to see it all. Ever.
  • The Previous and Next buttons are miniscule! I get heartily sick of programs that are designed for 20-year-old eyes. No-one is getting any younger and these tiny buttons are very hard to see and even harder to click correctly.
  • It’s in a pale, transparent blue so it could easily be missed by someone who doesn’t have 20/20 ‘normal’ vision.

Getting the search icons on to the toolbar

To add the basic search (Find) icon to the toolbar:

  1. Right-click in any blank area on the Adobe Reader toolbar.
  2. Select Edit > Find.

The Find icon is added to the toolbar. And no, you can’t shift it elsewhere on the toolbar — where it goes is where it stays.

To add the Advanced Search icon to the toolbar:

  1. Right-click in any blank area on the Adobe Reader toolbar.
  2. Select Edit > Advanced Search.

The Advanced Search icon is added to the toolbar. And like the Find icon, you can’t shift it elsewhere on the toolbar — where it goes is where it stays.

And while I’m having this little rant about Adobe, what’s with the inconsistent terminology? A basic search is called a ‘Find’ and an advanced search is called… an ‘Advanced Search’. Why not use ‘Search’ instead of ‘Find’? Two of the biggest search engines both use ‘Search’ and ‘Advanced Search’, so it’s not like it’s a hard term to understand or misinterpret. It’s harder to deal with inconsistent terms like ‘Find’ and ‘Search’ in the one menu list, in my opinion.

See also:

[Links last checked January 2012]


  1. Ctrl+F is a natural for me; I’d not noticed (until you mentioned it).

    A further inconsistency is that PDF portfolio features Search prominently; it applies to every item in the ‘folder’ and is often very convenient.

  2. Thanks for the tip. I miss the search box

    This is typical behaviour for bloatware developers at places like Adobe, “fixing” things that aren’t broken and calling it a “feature”.

  3. Yes, and the fact that’s it’s not part of the toolbar, rather, a ‘pop-under’ type of ‘feature’. My main complaint is you cannot reorder the buttons according to which you use most frequently or want to group together.

  4. Software development used to be about Engineering and Human Factors now it’s all about “marketing” and changing it for NO REASON and making it “fancy” somehow. Just absurd. People need to start getting a clue and speak up about it. These large software companies are not held accountable.

  5. True. I have just upgraded to reader X from 9 (only attracted by its new function of note-taking). I use search tool very often, but when I am viewing document in full size in reader X, the new search box just blocking part of my view. It is never a problem in the previous versions, and I am so disappointed and will not upgrade in my other devices!

  6. Grrrr. How utterly STUPID. Is Acrobat totally devolving? No fricking magnifying glass that I depended on? Where is the sense in that? Why not just have NO icons and let us muddle through. Say, remember all our old DOS commands. Well, why not just go back to DOS?

    Okay, rant over. But will I be able to uninstall and then install a previous edition of Acrobat? This majorly sucks IMO.

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