Why Does Adobe Acrobat Stay in Memory After Closing the Program?

Acrobat software can make documents accessible to people who don't have their originating applications.
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From brochures to tax forms, white papers to magazine excerpts, Adobe PDF files have become mainstays of the online and off-line document-sharing universe, placing Acrobat software at the center of your workflow. If Acrobat or its free sibling, Adobe Reader, remains active and continues to use memory after you shut it down, these phenomena can disrupt your computer and your work. Look to settings, defaults and in-application promotions for keys to problems that can make productivity applications turn unproductive.

1 Corrupt Preferences

When you customize Adobe Acrobat's or Adobe Reader's defaults, the programs store your settings in multiple preference files. If any of these files sustain corrupting damage, your Adobe software may behave erratically. To wipe out your preferences and restore default settings so you can start fresh, relocate either program's preferences folder. The next time you launch the software, it creates a new set of preferences files. To find these preferences, look for the following location, where "[version]" represents the version of the Adobe product you use: C:\Users[username]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Acrobat[version].

2 Browser-Related Problems

When you set up your Web browser so it uses Adobe software to view PDF files online, Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader launches to support document viewing each time you click on a link to a PDF. The software doesn't shut down the moment you close a browser window that contains a PDF. Instead, it remains active for a period of several minutes, looking for open PDF files. The Adobe browser plugin may see PDF files in the browser cache and incorrectly report active files, needlessly keeping the software open. If you shut down your Web browser, the Adobe software also should close. You also can open Acrobat or Reader and use its Exit command to shut it down manually.

3 Messages From Adobe

Among Adobe Reader's general preferences, "Display Messages From Adobe" gives you two options that present marketing messages within the software. You can view these messages as part of the welcome screen that appears when you first open the software, or you can see them within the application's document windows. If you leave both these preferences unchecked, the messages won't appear. In some instances, displaying these can correlate with Reader's inability to shut down properly, a situation in which it monopolizes large amounts of processor time.

4 Other Considerations

Adobe Systems issues frequent security and bug-fix updates to its Acrobat software. If you're experiencing problems with the free Adobe Reader or a paid Adobe Acrobat application, check the Adobe user-to-user forums for reports of similar trouble and look for an update to either or both programs. To resolve truly intermittent problems that relate to temporary instabilities on your computer or memory leaks that result when you leave your system running for long periods of time, restart your computer.

5 Version Information

Information in this article applies to Adobe Acrobat Standard XI, Adobe Acrobat Professional XI and Adobe Reader XI. It may differ slightly or significantly with other versions or products.

Elizabeth Mott has been a writer since 1983. Mott has extensive experience writing advertising copy for everything from kitchen appliances and financial services to education and tourism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Indiana State University.