Turn Off Highlighting Form Fields in Acrobat

Recently I’ve been working on an interactive PDF that contains a number of form fields, and is intended to be used live in meetings, to gather information about customer workflows; the attendees will see the form displayed on a large screen so they can see what I’m adding to the form. The layout is a very clean and attractive design based on Material principles and the PDF is an intermediary step in designing a web experience, eventually, so it’s important that as far as is practicable (as there are obvious limitations) it looks to them like that kind of experience.

This is one of those occurrences where form-field highlighting gets in the way; that feature is an important aspect of usability if a form is being distributed or made available for completion anonymously, but in a presentation scenario such as this case it has an effect on the design.

Because it is such an important part of the accessibility/usability aspect of forms, it is turned on by default and where there used to be a toggle for highlighting form fields at a document level, that has been removed in Acrobat DC, and it’s a preference for the user/application.

So, is it still possible at a document level? Yes—AcrobatUsers has a solution for XI, and here’s how in Acrobat DC:

Turn Off Form Field Highlighting in Acrobat DC

If you’re stuck for a PDF, there’s a very simple one here: http://bit.ly/2w3redQ (it’s the one used in this tutorial and pictured below—did say it was very simple).

When you have your form ready to use and open in Acrobat DC, go to the Tools tab and type a J into the search field to reveal the JavaScript Tool (if you’re not short on time, scroll down the page)—click/tap on the Document Javascripts link and a dialog will open.

Adding the Script to Turn Off Highlighting

  1. Give this Script a name to tell you what it is/does—something like hilightOff—then click Add
  2. The JavaScript Editor will open, pre-populated with an empty function—you can delete that and replace it with:
    var rths = app.runtimeHighlight ; 
    app.runtimeHighlight = false ;
  3. Click OK to return to the Document JavaScripts dialog, and click/tap Close to exit

Save your document, close it and reopen it—highlighting should now be turned off—but as we are modifying a user preference that will affect all documents we should turn it back on again when we close this document.

Restore Highlighting on Document Close

In the Tools Panel (on the right-hand-side—if you can’t see it there’s a little arrow there that will expand the panel for you) type Ja in the Search field at the top and click/tap on Document Actions:

  1. In the When This Happens area choose Document Will Close
  2. Then click/tap Edit and the JavaScript Editor will open
  3. Add this script:
    app.runtimeHighlight = rths ;
  4. Close the editor and you’ll see your line of script in the Execute This JavaScript field—close the dialog by clicking/tapping OK and save your document

This resets the user’s preference back to the default. Save your document and you should be good to go!

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