Multi-Page PDF Thumbnails

One of the frustrations I have when viewing an Adobe Acrobat PDF document, is that you don’t know for sure you are viewing all the pages. On more than one occasion I received a PDF, printed the document, then later came to discover there was more than the one page that had printed.

Show The Thumbnails

The best way to let someone immediately know they are looking at a multi-page document is to give them a “visual que” by show the thumbnail preview when the PDF opens. Unfortunately this is not a default in Acrobat**, so it has to be set manually.

PDF Thumbnails

Change The Initial View

I make two changes to the initial view that I use EVERY TIME I post or distribute a multi-page PDF. Fortunately, both changes are on the same properties tab.

Open your multi-page PDF in Adobe Acrobat and click on File, then Properties.

PDF File Properties

This will open the Document Properties dialog box. Click on the Initial View tab.

PDF initial view

1) Pages Panel and Page

Change the Navigation tab option to Pages Panel and Page. This will show the thumbnails when you open the document.

PDF Navigation Tab

2) Adust the Initial Magnification

One of my pet peeves is when you open a PDF and it looks like it’s zoomed in 1000%. This is especially the case if you have an extra large wide screen monitor. Your best bet is to always show the entire document and let people zoom in as they desire.

To change the initial Magnification, use Fit Height for documents that have a portrait orientation (ie most 8.5×11 documents) and Fit Width for documents that have a landscape orientation. If your PDF is mixed with both portrait and landscape documents, pick page 1 and use that orientation has your setting.

PDF Fit Height

 Close and Save

When you have completed these two changes, close the dialog box and save the PDF. To check your work, immediately reopen the PDF. If you did it right, everything should see something like this.


PDF fit visible right

It only takes an extra minute, but it helps reduce frustration for everyone viewing the PDF.

** I haven’t figured out a way to make this the default settings when creating a PDF directly from inDesign. I have a $25 Starbucks gift card waiting for anyone who can show me how : )

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