Acrobat JavaScript API Reference

This document is a complete reference to the Acrobat extensions to JavaScript, its objects, methods, and properties. It is organized alphabetically by object name.

Version compatibility

The Acrobat extensions to core JavaScript date back to Adobe Exchange 3.01. JavaScript functionality was added to this version by means of the “Acrobat Forms Author Plug-in 3.5 Update”. Initially, JavaScript version 1.2 was used, as the table below shows. In Acrobat 5.0, there was a major effort to extend core JavaScript, then version 1.5, to include much of the functionality of the application and its plug-ins. The most recent version of Acrobat now uses JavaScript 1.7.

Acrobat version









JavaScript version









When developing a JavaScript solution, you must have a minimum Acrobat (or Adobe Reader) version in mind. The choice of target application determines, by the table above, the version of JavaScript you should use.

Most JavaScript API are documented for all versions of Acrobat and Adobe Reader, while others are only defined in later versions. Additionally, some APIs are restricted to Acrobat Pro and some cannot be used by Adobe Reader, while others can be used in Adobe Reader only when the document has the appropriate Reader Extension Rights. Again, for a JavaScript solution, all these factors must be considered.

For documentation on core JavaScript, the reader is directed to the Mozilla Developer Center, .


JavaScript is the cross-platform scripting language of the Adobe Acrobat family of products that includes Acrobat Pro Extended Acrobat Pro, Acrobat Standard, and Adobe Reader. Through JavaScript extensions, the viewer application and its plug-ins expose much of their functionality to document authors, form designers, and plug-in developers.

This functionality includes the following features, among others:

  • Processing forms within the document

  • Batch processing collections of PDF documents

  • Developing and maintaining online collaboration schemes

  • Communicating with local databases

  • Controlling multimedia events

In addition to being available in Acrobat and Adobe Reader, the objects, properties, and methods for the Acrobat extensions for JavaScript can be accessed through Microsoft Visual Basic to automate the processing of PDF documents. See the Interapplication Communication Developer Guide for details.


Some JavaScript objects are static objects that can be used as is and must be spelled as indicated. For example, the app object represents the JavaScript application. There is only one such object and it must be spelled app (case-sensitive).

Other objects are dynamic objects that can be assigned to a variable. For example, a Doc object may be obtained and assigned to a variable:

var myDoc = app.newDoc();

In this example, myDoc can access all methods and properties of the Doc object. For example:


Method arguments

Many of the JavaScript methods provided by Acrobat accept either a list of arguments, as is customary in JavaScript, or a single object argument with properties that contain the arguments. For example, these two calls are equivalent:

app.alert( "Acrobat Multimedia", 3);
app.alert({ cMsg: "Acrobat Multimedia", nIcon: 3});


The JavaScript methods defined in support of multimedia do not accept these two argument formats interchangeably. Use the exact argument format described for each method.

Parameter help

When using Acrobat Pro, if you give an Acrobat method an argument of acrohelp and execute that method in the JavaScript Debugger console (or any internal JavaScript editor), the method returns a list of its own arguments.

For example, enter the following code in the console window.


While the cursor is still on the line just entered, press either Ctrl + Enter or the Enter key on the numeric pad. The console displays the following message.

HelpError: Help.
app.response:1:Console undefined:Exec
====> [cQuestion: string]
====> [cTitle: string]
====> [cDefault: string]
====> [bPassword: boolean]
====> [cLabel: string]

Parameters listed in square brackets indicate optional parameters.


Parameter help is not implemented for every JavaScript method. For example, it is not implemented for methods defined in the App JavaScript folder.


Several methods take device-independent paths as arguments. See the PDF Reference , for details about the device-independent path format.

Safe path

Acrobat 6.0 introduced the concept of a safe path for JavaScript methods that write data to the local hard drive based on a path passed to it by one of its parameters.

A path cannot point to a system critical folder, for example a root, windows or system directory. A path is also subject to other unspecified tests.

For many methods, the file name must have an extension appropriate to the type of data that is to be saved. Some methods may have a no-overwrite restriction. These additional restrictions are noted in the documentation.

Generally, when a path is judged to be not safe, a NotAllowedError exception is thrown (see Error object) and the method fails.

Privileged context

A context in which you have the right to do something that is normally restricted. Such a right (or privilege) could be granted by executing a method in a specific way (through the console or batch process), by some PDF property, or because the document was signed by someone you trust. For example, trusting a document certifier’s certificate for executing JavaScript creates a privileged context which enables the JavaScript to run where it otherwise would not.

Privileged versus non-privileged context

Some JavaScript methods, marked by an S in the third column of the quick bar, have security restrictions. These methods can be executed only in a privileged context , which includes console, batch and application initialization events. All other events (for example, page open and mouse-up events) are considered non-privileged.

The description of each security-restricted method indicates the events during which the method can be executed.

Beginning with Acrobat 6.0, security-restricted methods can execute without restrictions if the document certifier’s certificate is trusted for running embedded high privilege JavaScript.

In Acrobat versions earlier than 7.0, menu events were considered privileged contexts. Beginning with Acrobat 7.0, execution of JavaScript through a menu event is no longer privileged. You can execute security-restricted methods through menu events in one of the following ways:

  • By opening the JavaScript category of the Acrobat preferences and checking the item named “Enable Menu Items JavaScript Execution Privileges”.

  • By executing a specific method through a trusted function (introduced in Acrobat 7.0). Trusted functions allow privileged code—code that normally requires a privileged context to execute—to execute in a non-privileged context. For details and examples, see app. trustedFunction.

User preferences

There are many references in this document to the Acrobat user preferences. The preferences dialog box is accessed through the following menu commands, depending on platform:

  • Microsoft Windows: Edit > Preferences

  • Mac OS: Acrobat > Preferences

The preferences dialog box contains several categories that have relevant commands, including Forms, General, and JavaScript.

The following properties, if run from a document-level script, no longer affect the user preferences:

  • app.fs.defaultTransition

  • app.fs.useTimer

  • app.fs.usePageTiming

  • app.fs.loop

  • app.fs.escapeExits

  • app.fs.clickAdvances

  • app.fs.timeDelay

  • app.fs.backgroundColor

  • app.fs.cursor

  • app.openInPlace

These properties still affect user preferences if run from an application-level script.

Also note that app.fs.escapeExits can now only be set to false when running in a privileged context.

Table quick key

At the beginning of most property and method descriptions, a small table or quick bar provides a summary of the item’s availability, usage recommendations, type, and access.

The quick bar shown here has descriptive column headings that are not shown in the reference.



Version (Key)

The #.# version number indicates the product version a property or method became available. If the number is specified, the property or method is available only in versions of the Acrobat software greater than or equal to that number. For Acrobat 8.0, there are some compatibility issues with older versions. Before accessing the property or method, the script should check that the forms version is greater than or equal to that number to ensure backward compatibility.

For example: if (typeof app.formsVersion != "undefined" && app.formsVersion >= 8.0) {// Perform version specific operations.}

If the first column is blank, no compatibility checking is necessary. X indicates the item is deprecated.

Saved and Preferences

This column indicates the following:

  • D: Writing to this property or method dirties (modifies) the PDF document. If the document is subsequently saved, the effects of this method are saved as well. (In Adobe Reader, the document requires specific rights to be saved.)

  • P: Even though this property does not change the document, it can permanently change a user’s application preferences.


For security reasons, this property or method may be available only during certain events. These events include batch processing, application start or execution within the console. (See the event object for details of the Acrobat events.) Beginning with Acrobat 7.0, to execute a security-restricted method through a menu event, one of the following must be true:

  • The JavaScript user preferences item Enable Menu Items JavaScript Execution Privileges is checked.

  • The method is executed through a trusted function. For details and examples, see the app.trustedFunction method. See Privileged context for more information.

Note: (Acrobat 6.0 or later) Methods marked with Yes execute without restriction in a certified document provided the certifier’s certificate is trusted for running embedded high privilege JavaScript and other limitations in the quick bar fields are met.


Possible values include:

  • All: All Acrobat and Reader products

    1. Not allowed in Reader: Only available in Acrobat products

  • Acrobat Pro: Not available in any other product

  • F: Requires forms rights

  • C: Requires the right to manipulate comments

  • S: Requires document save rights

  • D: Requires file attachment rights

  • G: Requires digital signature rights


The data type; for example, Boolean


Read, write, or both

Domain names in code samples

Throughout this document there are numerous code samples that use URLs. Such examples use the domain names,, and, which are reserved for the purpose of illustration. Some examples use IP addresses, these addresses come from the range through, which are reserved for private networks.