Hack 14 Navigate and Manipulate PDF Using Page Thumbnails

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Acrobat's thumbnail view pane has some useful, unexpected features for reorganizing or jumping through your documents.

At first glance, the Acrobat Pages (Acrobat 6) or Thumbnails (Acrobat 5) pane might seem like a cute but unnecessary view into your PDF files. In fact, it is not a passive view, but an interactive easel with features not available anywhere else.

1.15.1 Tune the Thumbnail View

As you widen this pane, more thumbnails become visible and they organize themselves into rows and columns. The nearby Options (Acrobat 6) or Thumbnail (Acrobat 5) button opens a menu where you can change the thumbnail size. Acrobat 6 enables you to enlarge or reduce thumbnails as you desire. Acrobat 5 enables you to choose between small and large thumbnail sizes.

If the Acrobat 6 thumbnails appear grainy as you enlarge them, choose Remove Embedded Thumbnails from the Options menu. This forces Acrobat to render pages on the fly, as shown in Figure 1-14.

Figure 1-14. Large thumbnails showing more detail

If the thumbnails seem to display too slowly, try selecting Embed All Page Thumbnails from the Options (or Thumbnail) menu. Acrobat will store the thumbnail images into the PDF file. You can always undo this by selecting Remove Embedded Thumbnails.

Your current PDF page view, on the right, is represented by a red box in the thumbnail pane. You can resize this box or grab its edge to move it around. Manipulate this box to manipulate the current PDF page view. Click any thumbnail to view that page.

1.15.2 Print, Modify, Move, or Copy Selected Pages

Invoked from the menu, most Acrobat features operate on one page or a contiguous range of pages. In the thumbnail pane, you can select the exact pages you want to print or modify. Click and drag out a rectangle to select a group of pages. Hold down the Ctrl key (Shift on the Macintosh) while clicking single pages to add or remove them to your selection. When your selection is complete, right-click one of your selected pages to see a menu of possible page operations.

To select all pages in the thumbnail view, you must first select one page, then click Select All.

To move the pages you selected to a new location within the document, click-and-drag the selection. A cursor will appear between page thumbnails as you continue dragging. Dropping the selection will move the pages, inserting them where the cursor is.

To copy the pages you selected to a different location within the same document, hold down the Ctrl key and then click-and-drag the selection to the desired location. Acrobat will copy your pages instead of moving them.

To copy the pages you selected to another document, open the target document so that both documents are visible in Acrobat (Window Cascade). Click-and-drag the selection over to the thumbnail view of the target document. Navigate the cursor to the desired location and drop, as shown in Figure 1-15.

Figure 1-15. Quickly copying pages from one PDF to another via drag-and-drop

To move the pages you selected to another document, hold down the Ctrl key before you click-and-drag the selection over to the target document. Acrobat will remove your selection from the source document and add it to the target.