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Acrobat’s Full Screen Mode

In Acrobat terms, adhering to these design goals entails showing your overhead slides in something called Full Screen mode.

Full Screen mode is designed specifically for PDF files used as presentation graphics. It is exactly what the name says it is: Acrobat expands the document so that it completely fills the screen, hiding menu bar, Desktop, and everything else except the PDF page.

You enter Full Screen mode by selecting View > Full Screen Mode or pressing Ctrl/Cmd-L (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Figure 2 When using a PDF file as a series of overhead slides, you will usually want to display the file in Full Screen mode. The only time I don’t use Full Screen mode is when Acrobat or PDF are themselves the topic of the presentation, so I need to be able to show off menu items and toolbar buttons.

The benefit of Full Screen mode is that it eliminates all on-screen distractions. Of course, it also eliminates all on-screen controls for navigating from page to page in your presentation. Remain calm; Acrobat provides easily-remembered methods for moving around your document while in Full Screen mode:

  • To go to the next page, click anywhere in the screen or press the right arrow key.
  • To go to the previous page, shift-click anywhere in the screen or press the left arrow key.
  • To go to the beginning of the document, press Home (or Fn-Left Arrow on a Mac laptop keyboard).
  • To go to the end of the document, press End (or Fn-Right Arrow on a Mac laptop keyboard).
  • To exit Full Screen mode, press the Escape key.

Full Screen mode works in Acrobat at least back to version 8. (It almost certainly works back to primeval versions of Acrobat, but I can’t directly check this, because Acrobat 7 and earlier no longer works on my computer.)

As an unobvious tip: If you are using Acrobat X, the current version of the program, you should hide the Tools pane before entering Full Screen mode. Nothing breaks if you leave the pane open, but Acrobat oddly miscalculates the zoom required to fill the screen; the top of each page gets chopped off (Figure 3).

Figure 3

Figure 3 Acrobat X has a minor oddness: If you have the Tools pane open when you enter Full Screen mode, Acrobat cuts off the top of your slides. This is not a crushingly big deal; just make sure the Tools pane is closed before displaying the document full-screen.

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