AcrobatSlideshow.pngSay you must produce a looping slideshow of images for a client’s tradeshow booth — but you don’t have many technical details.

You know the images will be displayed on a HDTV connected to a Windows laptop. You don’t know what software will be installed, or what image formats that laptop might support.

Luckily, you know that PDFs can be displayed on almost any computer today — thanks to the ubiquitous free Adobe Reader. This tip will walk you though the basics of creating a self-running PDF slideshow that can run almost anywhere.

Step 1: Create a multiple-page PDF with your graphics.

Start off by creating a multiple page PDF with your slideshow graphics. The beauty of using a PDF is that you can create your presentation in whichever tools you are most comfortable.

Note: Design your pages with the dimensions of your final presentation in mind. If you plan to display your slideshow images on an HDTV kiosk for example, create your PDF with a 16 x 9 aspect ratio.

Step 2: Set Acrobat’s Full Screen Preferences.

With your PDF open, open Acrobat’s preferences window by choosing Acrobat > Preferences on the Mac (in Windows, choose Edit > Preferences). Select the Full Screen category on the left.


These preferences establish how Acrobat will display your slideshow in fullscreen mode:

  • Loop after last page: Check this option to keep your slideshow looping indefinitely.
  • Advance every __ seconds: This sets how long each slide pauses before transitioning to the next page. You can adjust this on a page-by-page basis if you wish in step X.
  • Default transition: This setting adjust how your pages transition. Chose “Fade” for a soft transition between pages. This too can be controlled on a page-by-page basis.

Step 3: Set your document to open in Full Screen mode.

Choose File > Properties (or Document Properties in some versions of Acrobat). In the Document Properties window, click on the Initial View tab.


In this dialog box, check the Open in Full Screen mode checkbox. Save and close the document. The next time you open the file, it will automatically go to full-screen slideshow mode.

Step 4: Set page-by-page transitions (optional).

You can also control page transitions on a page-by-page basis. As with many options, the menus for these settings change between different versions of Acrobat.

Acrobat 8: Advanced > Document Processing > Page Transitions

Acrobat 7: Document > Set Page Transitions


In this dialog you can set a transition effect for individual pages, as well as adjusting the length of time before flipping to the next page. Make sure to pay attention to your Page Range when adjusting these settings.

After you’ve finishing designing and building your PDF slideshow, the document can be played on almost any computer using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.


Source: This tip inspired by a question from Davis Design Associates in Kirkland. We talked about this technique in a previous tip from last year: Use an Apple TV as Your Portfolio Theater.