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Bring Ideas to Life Through Rich, Interactive PDFs

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If you find yourself working with PDFs often, you can discover many things you can (and can’t) do to them to make them more interesting, and at the same time more user-friendly and useful. Adobe expert Brian Wood explores some of the most widely used interactive features that you can add to a PDF.

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Work with Buttons

Work with Buttons

Another great addition to a PDF file includes buttons that can perform actions. Buttons can be used to navigate between pages, show hidden content, and much more. Next, you will learn how to add a button that can navigate pages and learn a few tips for adding those buttons to multiple pages easily.

  1. With a PDF open, choose the Button button from the Content options in the Tools task pane (or choose View > Tools > Content to see the Button tool).
  2. Position the pointer on the page and click to set the first button in place. After clicking, a yellow tooltip appears where you can change the name of the button (to something like, “next”). In that same yellow tooltip, click All Properties to edit the button properties (see Figure 12).
  3. Figure 12 Create and name a button

    In the Button Properties dialog box, you can edit the appearance of the button and the action. There are so many options for editing the buttons, even just the appearance, which I will keep it to the basics.

  4. Click the Appearance tab in the Button Properties dialog box and change the Fill Color to None by clicking the color box and choosing None (see Figure 13).
  5. Figure 13 Edit the appearance of a button

  6. Next, click the Options tab. This is where you can add text (called a label in Acrobat-speak) and/or an image (called an icon in Acrobat-speak) to the button appearance. Choose Label Only from the Layout menu and type Next in the Label field to add that text to the button (see Figure 14).
  7. Figure 14 Edit button options

  8. Select the Actions tab and choose Execute a Menu Item from the Select Action menu. Make sure that Mouse Up is chosen in the Select Trigger menu (this will rarely change) to tell Acrobat when to perform the action (when the user releases the mouse when clicking on the button). Click Add.
  9. In the Menu Item dialog box, choose View > Page Navigation > Next Page from the list of menu items, then click OK (see Figure 15).
  10. Figure 15 Add an action to the button

  11. Click Close to close the Button Properties dialog box.
  12. To see the button as it will appear to your end users and test it, select the Hand tool, then click the button to go to the next page (see Figure 16).
  13. Figure 16 Test the button with the Hand tool

  14. Choose File > Save to save your file.

Once you get the hang of working with buttons, you can easily take them much further, adding some great functionality to your PDF files. Here are a few tips so your button making can move faster:

  • To duplicate buttons on multiple pages (like next page and previous page buttons), you can right-click (Windows) or Ctrl-click (Mac OS) a button on your page with the Select Object tool or Button tool and choose Duplicate. This opens a dialog box that allows you to duplicate the button onto multiple pages (see Figure 17).
  • Figure 17 Duplicate buttons

  • If you have a series of buttons in your document and you want to be able to access their properties quickly, you can click the Edit PDF Form button in the Forms options of the Tools task pane (choose View > Tools > Forms). Acrobat enters form editing mode and shows all of the buttons listed in the Fields area of the Forms task pane. You can right-click any of the selected fields and choose Properties to edit their properties (see Figure 18).
  • Figure 18 Edit buttons in Form Editing mode

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