How to Create an Animated PDF

Acrobat's built-in options for creating animation in PDFs are quite limited. Acrobat Pro can only create animated page transitions, such as "Wipe" and "Fade," similar to slide transitions in PowerPoint. However, you can use the program's "Flash" and "3D" tools to embed animated files in your PDFs to create truly animated PDFs.

Open a multi-page PDF in Acrobat Pro.

Click "Advanced" on the menu bar, choose "Document Processing" and select "Page Transitions" from the Document Processing Fly-out. This opens the Set Transitions dialogue box.

Click the "Transition" drop-down to choose a transition style. Click the "Direction" drop-down to choose a transition direction---a Wipe transition, for example, can wipe up, down, left, right or from one of the four corners of the page. If you want your pages to flip automatically, select the "Auto Flip" check box and choose a duration (in seconds) from the "After" drop-down. To apply the transition to all of the pages in the PDF, select "All pages in document" in the Page Range section of the dialogue box. To set the transition to specific pages, select the "Pages range" radio button, and then set the page range in the "From" and "To" fields. (You can set different transitions on different pages using the Page Range option.)

Click "OK." To test the transitions, click "View" on the menu bar and choose "Full Screen Mode."

Open the PDF in which you want to embed an animated file. Go to the page where you want the animation to play.

Click "Tools" on the menu bar and choose "Multimedia." From the Multimedia flyout menu, choose the type of animation you want to embed. Choose "3D Tool" for a 3D (U3D) file, or choose "Flash Tool" for a Flash movie (SWF) file. (These two tools work basically the same.) Draw a container on the page where you want the animation to display. This opens the Insert Flash or Insert 3D dialogue box, depending on which tool you choose.

Click the "Browse" button and navigate to the file you want to embed, or type the Internet URL for the file in the "File" field.

Click "OK" to embed the file. Move the embedded animation, if necessary, to the desired location on the page with your mouse cursor or with the Up, Down, Left and Right arrow keys on your keyboard.

Test the SWF animation by clicking the "Play" button located in the left corner of the movie. Test the 3D animation by clicking the "Play" button located on the control strip above the 3D image.


When you upload the PDF to the Internet, a network server, or burn it to a CD, include the animation file. The animation file does not import into the PDF. It is "linked" to the PDF file. When you deploy the PDF, keep the path and file names intact. The PDF needs to know where to find the animation files. You can control several playback options, such as when and how the animation plays, from the Insert 3D and Insert Flash dialogue boxes. Simply click the "Show Advanced Options" check box to display the advanced options.

Things You'll Need

  • Adobe Acrobat Pro 7 or later
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About the Author

A writer for more than 20 years, William Harrel has authored 19 books, including two titles in the "For Dummies" series. He has also contributed articles to magazines such as "Computer Shopper," "PC World," "Home Office Computing," "Windows Magazine," "MacWorld," "Compute!" and many others.