Hypertext Links in Acrobat

In an Acrobat viewer, hypertext references enable you to move around the PDF or many PDFs, much like surfing the Net. You’ve probably become so accustomed to clicking buttons on your desktop computer that link navigation is commonplace and needs little instruction.

While invoking the action is nothing more than a click with the mouse, what it can do in Acrobat is simply remarkable. To help you gain an understanding of how Acrobat has employed hyperlinks, the following sections describe all the link actions as they can be created in Acrobat and executed in any viewer.

Hypertext references, or buttons, are easily identified in a PDF document. As you move the mouse cursor around the document window, a Hand icon with the forefinger pointing appears when you position the cursor over a button or a link. You click, and presto!—the link action is executed!

Link actions can be assigned to any one of several items in Acrobat. All the Link Action types are available with both Acrobat Standard and Acrobat Professional. Form fields can only be created with Acrobat Professional. Link Actions can be assigned to links, Bookmarks, and Page Actions in both Acrobat Standard and Acrobat Professional.

The action types available in Acrobat Standard and Acrobat Professional include:

  • Execute a menu command. This action links to commands found in the Acrobat menus. Unfortunately, most of the Execute a menu command options have been removed in Acrobat 8. If you used these items in older PDFs, you now have to turn to JavaScript programming and completely rework your files.

To be fair to Adobe, the changes made to Execute a menu item command are the result of many requests—particularly from enterprise users, who are concerned with security issues. To respond to these requests, Adobe was compelled to make the changes.

  • Go to a 3D view. For PDF documents supporting 3D views, you can set an action to a specific 3D view.
  • Go to a page view. The Go to a page view action opens another view on the existing page, a view to another page in the same document, a view to a named destination, or a view in another document.
  • Import form data. This action imports data exported from other forms into the active document where form field names match those from where the data were exported.
  • Open a file. The Open a file link opens any kind of document. PDFs open in Acrobat. Other file types require having the authoring program installed on your computer. For example, if the link is to a Microsoft Word document, you need Word installed on your computer to open the link.
  • Open a web link. Opens a URL in your default Web browser.
  • Play a sound. Plays a sound imported into the active PDF.
  • Play Media (Acrobat 5 Compatible). Plays a movie file saved in formats compatible with Acrobat 5 and lower viewers. Note: Acrobat 5 compatible media cannot be embedded in a PDF document.
  • Play Media (Acrobat 6 and Later Compatible). Plays movie files saved in newer formats compatible with Acrobat 6 through Acrobat 8 and movie clips can be embedded in PDFs using this compatibility.
  • Read an article. This action navigates to the specified article in the open PDF document or another PDF document.
  • Reset a form. All the fields or user-specified fields on a form are cleared of data.
  • Run a JavaScript. Executes JavaScripts written in Acrobat.
  • Set layer visibility. This action can be set to either hide or show a layer.
  • Show/hide a field. With form fields, fields are hidden or made visible on a page.
  • Submit a form. This action is used for submitting data in user-prescribed formats to a specified URL.

The preceding list is a simplified brief description of action types that can be associated with tools that support link actions.