Adobe Reader 6: A strange mix

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
July 2nd, 2003 • 6:21 pm

The more I use the free Adobe Reader 6 for reading/viewing PDF files, the more I am puzzled by the strange mix of nice little touches and utterly awkward UI choices that it is made of.

For example, I am in the process of translating a long PDF file. This morning I noticed, when opening the file again in Reader 6, that it actually remembered the location where I last was in the document, and automatically jumped back to that location (some 85 pages deep) for me. Nice! As far as I remember, neither Acrobat Reader 5 or Apple’s own Preview application has ever been that smart.

On the other hand, I just cannot get used to this new interface for Reader 6’s search tool. First of all, it opens in this new, proprietary new UI thing that is neither a window nor a palette:

A picture named Reader-Search.jpg

I mean: What the hell is this thing? It has no title bar. It cannot be moved. The only way to close it is to click on the “Hide” button, which has no obvious keyboard shortcut as far as I can tell. When it appears, it forces the main document window to move to the left, making it very annoying to use if you happen to have put your window in a specific location so that it’s visible from within another application (I want to be able to read the PDF file from within Word).

Then if you hide it, and then invoke it again with the “Find” command, it opens with the last search results, and you are forced to click on “New Search” — again, no keyboard shortcut that I am aware of — in ORDER to be able to start typing your new search query!

Even worse: once you’ve clicked on “New Search” and your cursor has been moved to the search field where you type your search query, instead of selecting the existing search query — which, in all likelihood, you’ll want to erase — so that you can erase it by just starting to type, Reader puts your cursor after the existing query, forcing you to SELECT it first before you can DELETE it.

This is unbelievably bad stuff. Adobe has never been a role model in terms of UI elegance, but this is really too much. Who allows people to design such bad software?

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