Adobe Acrobat Vs. Adobe Reader

By Joshua Mcgee

Adobe developed the PDF file format to allow people to copy, create and exchange documents quickly and safely. Adobe Acrobat is typically used to create new PDF files or copy existing documents into the PDF format. Other users can then open the document in Adobe Reader and view, print, annotate and search the document without the ability to change the contents.

View PDFs

Both Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader software opens PDF files. Although Acrobat has more capabilities, Reader is sufficient if you just want to view, search or edit a PDF. The document displays and prints exactly the same in both programs.

Create PDFs

Reader isn't sufficient if you want to convert a document into a PDF. To create a PDF, you will need to install Adobe Acrobat. Adobe offers two different versions of Acrobat -- Standard and Pro. The version of Acrobat you choose determines the creative capabilities. To simply create a copy of your documents, Standard will suffice. If you want to include security or interactivity, you will need Acrobat Pro.

Edit PDFs

Because PDFs are designed for secure sharing, the editing features in Acrobat and Reader are limited. Reader is practically unable to edit anything in a PDF, unless the PDF creator enabled form or comment capabilities. Acrobat has a few editing features to work within PDF files. Again, the capabilities will depend on the version of Acrobat. For example, all of the Acrobat family can combine multiple PDF files into a single file. Adobe Pro, however, includes tools that allow you to add comments to the document. Additional tools, such as the typewriter allow you to fill in forms that would otherwise be unusable.

PDF Forms

Forms saved as a PDF are a quick and easy way to gather information. The creator of the form in Acrobat can create the form as an editable document. This means that any viewer will be able to fill in the form, even if the user only has the Reader program. If the PDF form does not include this function, then Reader users will still only be able to view and print the form. Acrobat Pro includes a feature that allows the user to convert a form into a fillable form.


In order to create the PDF format so that it is a sharable format, Adobe provides Reader free of charge. You can visit Adobe’s website and download the latest version of Acrobat. Subsequent version updates and releases will also be free. Adobe offers Acrobat Standard and Pro for a monthly subscription that includes lifetime updates.