Trevor Sullivan's Tech Room

Minding the gap between administration and development

Adobe Reader 9 Customization Tool Bug

Posted by Trevor Sullivan on 2009/05/26

I would like to take a few minutes to relay a story of a bug in Adobe’s Customization Wizard version 9 that causes Adobe Reader 9.x browser integration to fail. If you are seeing the symptom in the screenshot below (“The Adobe Acrobat/Reader that is running can not be used to view PDF files in a Web Browser. Adobe Acrobat/Reader version 8 or 9 is required. Please exit and try again.“), then please read on:

Adobe Reader 9 Error

Adobe Reader 9 Error


Recently, I put together a package to deploy Adobe Reader 9.1 (now updated to 9.1.1) to our Windows clients (using ConfigMgr). I deployed this package successfully to a couple thousand workstations. After this deployment though, we had a couple of complaints, from users that had a license for Adobe Acrobat, that Adobe Reader had taken over as the default PDF software. As a result from this feedback, we went back and changed an option, for future deployments, to leave Acrobat as the default PDF software if it is installed (“Make Acrobat the default viewer if both Acrobat and Reader are installed.“).

Not thinking much of the change we made, using this newly tweaked package, we continued our deployment to the enterprise. After deploying to about 600 more workstations, that’s when the bad news began. Reports of an error message coming up (see introductory paragraph / image) began streaming in from our on-site technicians, because our users in those locations heavily relied upon Adobe Reader’s browser integration to open and print PDF documents.

It took quite a while of trial and error to figure out, but eventually we discovered that the setting under “Installation Options –> Default viewer for PDF files” was causing the issue. By reverting this option back to the default value of “Installer will decide which product will be the default,” we successfully worked around this problem.

Adobe Reader Customization Wizard - Installation Options

Adobe Reader Customization Wizard - Installation Options


As best I can tell, this is a bug with Adobe’s Customization Wizard software. It has caused a lot of headache, a lot of wasted time, and a couple of very late nights at the office for me last week, but eventually we got it resolved.

Thanks Adobe.

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me on Gmail at pcgeek86.

Update (2009-06-02): Fixed text rendering errors around images


6 Responses to “Adobe Reader 9 Customization Tool Bug”

  1. Robert said

    Trevor — excellent post. We have very similar problems with Adobe 6 Std + Reader 9. Haven’t been using the config tool (we dont even have the msi for reader 9). Is there a way of figuring out what the registry settings are that would fix this?

    We want Acrobat 6 to open PDFs. And Reader 9 to integrate in browser. Adobe just says it’s not supported? I’ve been fussing with registry settings, but can’t seem to get it to work.

    Do you know the registry settings that control this? I guess i can export and compare the registries??

    It’s working properly on one machine.

    And not working on others
    -One flavor has Reader 9 integrated in the browser but won’t accept 6 Std as the affiliation for PDF
    -Others won’t integrate properly with the browser. (The registry for Originals\bBrowserIntegration doesn’t seem to control it. There isn’t a registry setting for Reader9 for this — still, creating one doesn’t help.)

    The GUI prefs (XP’s folder-options_file-types and Adobe’s prefs) aren’t fixing the behavior.

    Thanks. Robert

  2. pcgeek86 said

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for the feedback on my article. The official Adobe KB article on this issue suggests that Adobe Reader “becomes confused” as to which application is used for browser integration. (

    I have absolutely no idea why this is happening based on the configuration of Adobe Reader as the default PDF program in the customization wizard.

    I haven’t had time yet, but in order to determine the differences based on this option, I would probably install the two different packages into separate virtual layers in a software virtualization solution such as Symtantec SVS or Microsoft App-V.

    -Trevor Sullivan

  3. James said

    Thanks for this info. I was about to use the reg section of the customization wizard to set the key as per but I’ll try your fix.

  4. Steve Buckley said

    This fixes the issue, I spent hours on this – if this key is not already there, this will fix it after I rolled out AR 9.3 via GP:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    @=”\”C:\\Program Files\\Adobe\\Reader 9.0\\Reader\\AcroRd32.exe\””

    This has worked every time, make sure you run it as Administrator


    • Hector said


      In regards to your post, did you just create a registry file to import after the upgrade/install is performed? In your example, it would be to make reader as the the default to open all pdfs from the web, so I would imagine if one wants acrobat, then the paths is what changes. Thanks

      • Steve Buckley said


        Yes I ran the .reg file on the computers afterwards – a right pain, however it fixed my issue – I also pushed the .reg file to run as a startup script on the computers affected – shame there was no runonce option, unless I am missing something…?

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