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Like this article? We recommend Thing I Like #2: Fewer Toolbars

Thing I Like #2: Fewer Toolbars

Some people like their software to have lots and lots of fully-loaded toolbars, giving them visible access to everything that software can do. I don’t; I prefer to have only a very few toolbars with a select set of tools. For me, toolbars are best used to provide quick access to features that I use all the time: some of the zoom tools, the text mark-up tools, etc. I don’t want the visual distraction of icons for features I use only occasionally or not at all.

Acrobat 9 was designed for people in the lots-of-toolbars camp. The program had a collection of 14 toolbars (Figure 3) that could be made available, residing in each and every document window. I needed seven of these to supply the tools that I used frequently; this could yield some amazingly cluttered windows (Figure 4).

Figure 3 Acrobat 9 had a total of 14 available toolbars.

Figure 4 I always needed seven of Acrobat 9’s toolbars to do my daily rounds. This resulted in some distracting layouts when I resized a window (so I could see several documents at one time, for example).

Acrobat X’s toolbar philosophy is more to my taste. It has only two toolbars: the one on top named Quick Tools, the other named Common Tools (Figure 5). These toolbars are permanently visible; you can’t hide them or move them. You can, however, easily customize their contents. Because there are only two of them, you aren’t going to fill these toolbars with everything Acrobat can do; you will put into them only the things that you use the most, just as I prefer.

Figure 5 Acrobat X has reduced the number of toolbars to two, named (arbitrarily, I suspect) Quick Tools and Common Tools. This is where you install buttons for features you use all the time.

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