Adding bookmarks to PDF files without Adobe Acrobat X Pro

PDF bookmarks

An example of a series of bookmarks created for easy navigation in a large PDF file.

Common people (at least people I hang with) don’t often have a reason to purchase the full-blown version of Adobe’s Acrobat X Pro software (US$199, or US$119 for educators).  Acrobat X Pro is a great tool which gives you the ability to create and edit PDF files, including transforming files into fillable PDFs and collecting the data electronically.  I am fortunate to have been in workplaces in the past that provided me with Acrobat X Pro and I can’t imagine doing without it – but probably wouldn’t fork out the money to pay for it myself.

One of my favorite uses of Acrobat X Pro is to add bookmarks to PDF files to help end-users navigate large PDF files.  This is especially handy when combining multiple documents into an appendix or a series of handouts.

If the bookmarking function is all you need, you can do quite well with the free JPdfBookmarks software.  It’s a Java app which works on Windows and Mac computers.  Besides creating a list of bookmarks that create a clickable index for your PDF, you can also use JPdfBookmarks to set the style and color of the bookmarks’ text.

One trick to share… If you have a bookmark you want to set to point somewhere other than at the top of a specific page, set your view to show just half of a page vertically, scroll to your intended bookmark destination part way down a page and then insert the bookmark.

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