Creating and Managing Links in PDF Files

AutoBookmark™ plug-in for Adobe® Acrobat®

What is AutoBookmark Plug-in?
AutoBookmark™ is an advanced plug-in for Adobe® Acrobat® and Adobe® Acrobat Professional® software. AutoBookmark™ is designed to create, edit and maintain all navigational elements of PDF documents:
Product details:
Linking in PDF Documents / Feature Summary
Links are an essential part of any well designed PDF document. Clicking a link in a PDF document is similar to clicking a link on a web page. Links can take you to another location in the current document, to other PDF documents or files, to websites, play media files or even execute a menu item. Creating links manually is a tedious and time consuming process especially for the long documents.
The AutoBookmark™ plug-in provides a set of software tools for automated link generation and editing:
Creating PDF Links ↑overview
Automatic link generation for user-defined words and phrases
Creating chain and cross-reference links
Adding links to page numbers and table of contents
Adding links to web URLs and email addresses
Adding links by text search
Importing links from text files

PDF Link Editing ↑overview
Inspecting link actions
Editing existing link and bookmark actions
Editing file and web references
Changing a visual appearance
Changing a zoom type
Editing link areas
Changing open preference for linked documents
Converting links to use named destinations
Locking or unlocking links
Deleting links from selected pages or whole document
Changing link actions to always highlight a current bookmark

Validating PDF Links and Working With Errors ↑overview
Creating a link report
Working with link errors
Cleaning up links and bookmarks
Fixing file link errors in document sets

Link Exporting and Batch Processing ↑overview
Exporting links into text files for advanced editing
Exporting text covered by links into a text file
Opening web links in browser and exporting URls into HTML file Batch processing support

Tutorials ↑overview

Step-by-step Tutorials with Screenshots:

PDF Linking Overview

Automatic Link Generation ↑overview
Automatically add links to words and phrases using user-defined "link dictionaries" (click here for step by step tutorial). A link dictionary is a collection of search terms (such as words, phrases and etc.) and corresponding actions (such as "Go to a page view" or "Open a web page"). The software searches a document for occurrences of specific search terms and generates links according to user specifications. Link dictionaries can be created manually using a supplied editor, imported from a text file or generated from bookmarks. The user has full control over the visual appearance of link annotations, including color of the linked text. The screenshot below shows a sample document before and after running the automatic link generation:
Automatic Link Generation
Creating Links To External Files ↑overview
The plug-in provides a simple way to add links to text that matches external file names.
Creating Links To External Files
Creating Links To Embedded PDF Attachments ↑overview
The plug-in provides a method for adding links to pages in embedded PDF file attachments.
Creating Links To Embedded PDF Attachments
Creating Chain and Cross-Reference Links ↑overview
The software provides a method for automatically linking multiple occurrences of the same (or different) text in a single PDF document into a hyperlink “chains”. The first occurrence of the search term points to a second one, the second one to a third one, and etc. The last occurrence of the search term is pointing back to the first occurrence of the term. Each link “chain” is a closed “loop” of hyperlinks that allows jumping from one occurrence of the text to another.
Creating Chain and Cross-Reference Links
Adding Links To Page Numbers and Table of Contents ↑overview
The plug-in can automatically add interactive links to text strings that refer to page numbers such as "see page N", "see pages N-M", table of contents entries and just numbers. This feature is useful for adding page links to the table of contents, index table or other parts of the document that can benefit.
Adding Links To Table of Contents
Adding Links To Page Numbers
Adding Links To Web URLs and Email Addresses ↑overview
Automatically add links to text that represents web URLs or email addresses. Control visual appearance of the links as well as processing page range. This functionality is also available as a batch command in Acrobat's Action Wizard.
Adding Links To Web URLs and Email Addresses
Adding Links By Text Search ↑overview
This plug-in provides functionality for adding links based on a text search. Text patterns are described using regular expressions. This is the most flexible method for the automated adding of links to variable text patterns that cannot be described as a simple fixed text. Page numbers, file names, web addresses, part numbers, phone numbers are common examples of such patterns. For example, you can add links to part numbers that will link them to the corresponding web page on your website. The plug-in can create links to pages, named destinations, external files and web addresses based on search results. This is an advanced feature that requires basic understanding of text matching with regular expressions.
Adding Links By Text Search
Editing Link and Bookmark Actions ↑overview
Link and bookmark actions can be searched and replaced. Web page addresses (URLs) and external file references, named destination and JavaScript code - all can be searched for the occurrence of a specific text string and replaced with a user specified text. For example, you can easily change all hyperlinks to point from one web page to another URL or to change links to refer to a different file. This operation processes all links on all pages and all bookmarks in the input PDF document.
Editing link and bookmark actions
Inspect Link Actions ↑overview
Easily inspect link actions using "Inspect Links" tool. Simply hover a mouse pointer over a link annotation, form button or file attachment annotation and see its action explained.
Link inspector tool
The tool checks named destinations and file references and immediately reports an error if a file or a destination page is missing:
Checking file errors using link inspector tool
Click here to read more about "Inspect Links" tool and see additional screenshots.
Editing File and Web References ↑overview
The plug-in comes with a handy tool that displays all file and web references for a currently opened PDF document. File references and URLs can be directly edited by modifying a link's text. No need to browse for files or click through multiple dialogs. The software displays absolute and relative paths using different icons, and automatically checks file references for missing files. This is a must-have time-saving tool for link inspection and editing.
Editing File and Web References
Exporting Links into Text or Spreadsheet File ↑overview
The existing links from one or more pages of the document can be exported to a comma-delimited text file (CSV). Use Microsoft Excel or any plain text editor (such as Notepad) to view or editing the output file. Links can be edited and imported back into the document if significant changes to the link attributes are required. For example, it can be used to change target file names, named destinations, web links or page numbers. Exported file can be used as a template to transfer links to another PDF documents. Click here for a description of the export file format.
Exporting Links into a Text File
The link import/export functionality can be effectively used to compile links from multiple sources into a single PDF file. This functionality comes handy when a team of users is working on the same PDF document.
Importing Links from a Text File ↑overview
Use text files (comma, tab, semicolon and space delimiters are supported) as an alternative way to add links to PDF documents. The easiest way to create such a file is to export existing links to a text format, edit link attributes using any plain text editor (Notepad for example) or Microsoft Excel and then import it into a target document. Click here for a description of the import/export file format.
Importing Links from an ASCII Text File
Export Text Covered by Links into Text File ↑overview
Optionally, text covered by PDF links can be exported into a text file (as part of the regular link export). Resulting file can be opened in Excel for further manipulation.
Export text covered by links
Creating Link Report ↑overview
The software creates a detailed report (click here to see a sample of link report) on link usage within one or more PDF documents. The report contains detailed statistics on link types, external files & URL dependencies, named destination references and link errors. The software checks link actions and detects the following errors:
  • Destination page number is out of correct page range (for "Go to a page view in current document" actions).
  • Referenced named destination does not exist (for "Go to a page view in current document" actions).
  • Destination file name is not specified (for "Open a file" and "Go to a page in another document" actions).
  • Destination file does not exist (for "Open a file" and "Go to a page in another document" actions).
  • URL address is empty (for "Open a web link" action).
  • Checks for proper URL formatting (for "Open a web link" action).
  • Every external file reference is labeled as either relative or absolute to aid in finding absolute path links (absolute path links will be broken if PDF document is moved to a different location).
This functionality is also available as a batch command for quick processing of multiple documents at once. Link reports for individual PDF documents are saved into a single report file (in plain text format) to simplify file review and analysis.
Fixing File Link Errors In Document Sets ↑overview
Are you frequently publishing cross-linked document sets or collections? Then this is a must have tool for you. Use this functionality to check a set of PDF documents for errors in link annotations and bookmarks. The plug-in checks all links and bookmarks for the following errors:
  • Missing destination files: link or bookmark is referring to another file that is missing. Software checks all documents in the set and suggests a file to link to based on a missing file name.
  • Destination file is not specified for an action that is required to have one ("Open a file", "Go to a page in another document").
  • Missing named destination: link or bookmark is refering to a named destination that is not present in the document.
  • Invalid page reference: link or bookmark is refering to a page number that does not exist in a document.
The plug-in is only able to assist in fixing the two first types of errors. The plug-in automatically suggests the best method to fix a particular error based on information gathered while checking the document set for errors. The software offers 4 possible methods to fix a file link error: move a file that exists in a document set into a different folder, adjust file links to point to another location, copy an external document into a missing file location, and delete link actions that contain errors.
Fixing Link Errors In Document Sets
Working With Link Errors ↑overview
Link errors are common in PDF documents and can be challenging to detect and fix. AutoBookmark plug-in helps in this process by automatically marking-up all detected link errors with sticky text notes. Text notes are placed at the location of the invalid links sample and appear in red:
Link errors are marked with text notes
Each note contains a text message that describe the nature of the particular link problem. You can work with text notes using excellent commenting tools that come with Adobe Acrobat:
Link errors are marked with text notes
The plug-in provides several convenient functions for navigating between pages that contain link errors. All error mark-ups created by the plug-in can be easily removed with the supplied "Remove Error Markup" menu. "Mark Up Link Errors" command is also available in the batch processing framework making it easier to find and mark-up errors in many PDF documents at once.
Cleanup Links and Bookmarks ↑overview
Use the "cleanup" functionality of the plug-in to automatically inspect PDF documents and remove links to missing files or pages, links without assigned actions and automatically convert absolute path references into relative ones (if possible). Absolute links to external files are a common problem that most Acrobat users may eventually encounter. A full path or absolute path is a path that points to the same location on one file system regardless of the working directory of the document that contains a link. If a document uses absolute paths then it cannot be easily moved to another computer (unless this computer contains exactly the same path) or written on a CD without breaking a link. A relative path is a path relative to the current location of the document. Relative path will continue to work when a group of linked documents is moved into a different location or burned onto a CD/DVD. The plug-in can find and convert absolute file references into a relative ones if it is technically possible. Some paths cannot be converted into a relative form (for example, if a destination file is located on a different drive). The "Cleanup" operation generates a detailed report in a text format.
Cleanup Links and Bookmarks
Changing Links Visual Appearance ↑overview
Easily modify visual appearance of the existing links on one or more pages. Change border attributes such as visibility, style, color and line thickness as well as modify the way links are highlighted. The software can also optionally change the color of the linked text. This feature comes in handy when it is necessary to modify existing documents to comply with certain regulations or requirements. For example, the Food and Drug Administration requires that for certain document submissions, link text must be blue with an invisible hyperlink on top. The software can quickly make your documents comply with this and similar regulations. The screenshot below shows a sample hyperlink before and after its appearance has been changed by the function:
Changing Links Visual Appearance
Converting Links to Use Named Destinations ↑overview
Convert link actions to use "named" destinations instead of direct references to a page. Destinations are automatically generated from existing links. Named destinations enable you to set navigation paths across a collection of PDF documents. Linking to a destination is recommended when linking across documents, because unlike a link to a page, a link to a destination is not affected by the addition or deletion of pages within the target document. Named destinations can be also shared between multiple links or bookmarks within a document. For example, instead of using a direct link to page 10, a link will point to the named destination "Chapter 1" . You will be able to link to this location using a human-readable name instead of a page number.
Converting Links to Use Named Destinations
Changing Links Zoom Type ↑overview
Change zoom type for all links in the document to one of the following: "Fit Page", "Fit Width", "Fit Visible", "Inherit Zoom", "Actual Size", "Custom View" or "Custom Zoom". This operation only affects links with "Go to a page in this document" and "Go to a page in another document" actions.
Changing Link Actions to Always Highlight a Current Bookmark ↑overview
Update existing links to always highlight a current bookmark after links are followed. Once the link is clicked, the Find Current Bookmark operation is automatically invoked to highlight the bookmark that points to the currently viewed page. This operation only affects links that point to locations within the same PDF document.
Edit PDF Link Boxes
Edit Link Boxes ↑overview
Automatically adjust link boxes according to desired preferences:
Edit PDF Link Boxes
Changing Linked Documents Open Preference ↑overview
Change the way Adobe Acrobat opens linked documents without manually editing every link in the PDF documents. The plug-in provides the functionality to change open window preference for all links (within a selected page range) to one of the following:  "Window open by user preference", "New Window" and "Existing Window". 
Locking/Unlocking Links ↑overview
Lock or unlock multiple links in PDF document with just couple mouse clicks. Locked links cannot be edited with Link tool or via link's "Properties" dialog. Links in Adobe Acrobat can be locked or unlocked manually via "Properties" dialog. However, it is a very time consuming process. The "Lock/Unlock Links" operation provides ability to lock or unlock links within selected range of pages or in the whole document just in few seconds. This operation is also available in the Action Wizard for batch processing.
Locked link example - no editing available:
Locking PDF Links
Unlocked link example - link can be edited using Link tool:
Unlocking PDF Links
Deleting Links ↑overview
Delete all links from one or more pages of a document. All link types are processed.
Open Web Links in Default Browser and Export URLs into HTML File ↑overview
AutoBookmark can search link annotations with "Open a web link" actions and extract all web addresses (URLs). User can review and edit a list of URLs that can be exported as an HTML file report with hyperlinks or automatically open in a default web browser. Links can be opened immideately or with a user-specified delay between each link.
Batch Processing with Action Wizard ↑overview
Users of Adobe® Acrobat Professional® (for versions 9 and up) can use batch processing framework (Action Wizard tool) to automate many link-related operations. AutoBookmark™ Professional adds the following commands to the Action Wizard (batch processing tool):
"Add Links By Text Search" - add links based on text search using regular expressions.
"Add Links To Email Addresses" - add links to email addresses.
"Add Links To Web URLs" - add links to web URLs.
"Cleanup Links and Bookmarks" - convert an absolute file references into a relative, delete dead links and etc.
"Convert to Use Named Destinations"- convert links to use named destinations.
"Create Links From Dictionary" - automatically generate links for words and phrases.
"Create Chain Links" - chain-link multiple occurences of the keyword(s).
"Create Report" - create a link usage report, including file & URL dependencies and link errors.
"Delete Links" - delete links from one or more pages.
"Export Links To Text" - export links to a comma-delimited text file.
"Import Links From Text" - import links from a comma-delimited text file.
"Link "Page N" Text To Nth Page" - generate links to "Page N" text.
"Link Numbers To Corresponding Pages" - link numbers in the document's text to corresponding pages.
"Link Table of Contents To Pages" - add links to the table of content's text.
"Lock/Unlock Links" - lock or unlock links.
"Mark Up Link Errors" - mark-up link errors with sticky notes.
"Search and Replace Link Actions" - quickly search and replace file, web, and named destination's references
"Set Appearance" - set the links visual appearance.
"Set Open Preference" - set the window preference for opening external PDF documents.
"Set Zoom Type" - set the zoom type for links pointing to page views.
Check user manual for a complete up-to-date list of supported commands.

AutoBookmark™ Product Levels

Product Levels: Standard vs Professional ↑overview
The software is available in two product levels: Standard and Professional. Both levels have identical functionality except batch processing support (batch processing commands for: bookmarking, linking), that is available only in AutoBookmark™ Professional plug-in. All other features, menus and toolbars are the same.

System Requirements

Platforms: ↑overview
 Microsoft® Windows 11/10/Windows 8/Windows 7/Windows Server 2012/2016/2019.
Software: ↑overview
Full version of Adobe® Acrobat® software is required (32/64-bit versions 9, X, XI, 2017-2020, DC). This software will not work with free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®. Batch processing functionality requires presence of Adobe® Acrobat Professional®.
(Adobe Acrobat Product Comparison Chart).
«I've only used two or three of the many bookmarking or exceptionally useful link processing tools in AutoBookmark, but the software repaid its costs through time saved in a matter of days.»
Steve Foxall, Qioptiq Ltd.
«I'd like to let you know how much I appreciate this plugin. It used to take us about two weeks to manually create links in a 800 page pdf that is updated yearly. Autobookmark does it in about 2 minutes!»
Mark V. (Oregon)
«Your tech support is awesome and sets you apart from other software developers. You respond quickly and have never failed to resolve any of my issues. I would have to say that I made the best choice possible by going with EverMap for my companies bookmarking needs. »
Chris Utter, CampSystems, Inc.
«The 'Sort Pages' function works beautifully. It was tested on a 1300 page (14.5Mb) technical manual. The 'Sort Bookmarks' tool puts them in alphabetical order then we sorted pages with one click. Now this document can be printed! I especially like how it respects the tree structure. Because the sort bookmarks tool allows us to sort by specific levels of the tree we can now easily move just a few a pages with a click of the mouse.»
Todd Bethell, CFM
«This has been the best tech support experience I have ever encountered. We truly appreciate the responsiveness, knowledge, accuracy and follow through. This experience will definitely make me recommend the program I am currently using as well as cause me to search out other products offered by your company.»
Grant D. Goldenberg, Esq., Helms Mulliss & Wicker, PLLC
«I have been very pleasantly surprised with AutoBookmark's to automate linking chores, and I have been thrilled by the technical support I've received. Great program; great help! Thanks so much!»
Herbert B. Long, Ph.D.
Communications Consultant
«I’ve been using AutoBookmark for the last year now and I can’t imagine life without it. Your fabulous plug-in dramatically simplifies the work I do day in and day out. [...] it has been absolutely worth it.»
Kent Bowler
«Your software is a lifesaver. I had to create links for hundreds of page references, spread over 400 pages of PDF documents. Originally we did this manually, in about a week, with a team of 5 or 6 people. Now I can do it in about five minutes!»
J. Carter, Web Developer
That's My Web Guy