This tutorial explains how to create external links in PDFs with Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.
Twenty years ago, PDFs were flat files—basically, they were the onscreen equivalent of a piece of paper. You could read them but not interact with them. Today, PDFs can be highly interactive (although, they can still be flat if necessary). One simple way to add interactivity is through links, also called hyperlinks, to external sources such as websites, social media profiles, or other PDFs stored on web-accessible servers.
The second section of this tutorial explains how to delete external links in PDFs, just in case you change your mind.
If you’re looking for information on internal links, check out “How to Create Internal Links in PDFs with Adobe Acrobat.” In an upcoming tutorial, I’ll also demonstrate how to edit both external and internal links.
Note to Acrobat Reader Users: Adobe’s free PDF software, Acrobat Reader, doesn’t have a tool for creating links. If you need to create links but don’t have access to Acrobat, create the document with the links in Microsoft Word and then convert the Word file to a PDF.
Create External Links in PDFs
1. Select the Tools tab.
2. Select the Edit PDF icon in the Tools Pane.
3. Select the Link down arrow in the Edit PDF toolbar.
4. Select Add/Edit Web or Document Link from the drop-down menu.
Your selection (arrow) cursor will turn into a crosshair-style cursor.
Important Note: The Auto-Create Web Links from URLs option, shown in the image above, will automatically turn URLs written in your PDF into links; however, I strongly suggest avoiding that option because it cannot be undone.
5. Left-click and hold as you use the cursor to drag a rectangle around the text you want to turn into an external link.
6. Select Invisible Rectangle or Visible Rectangle from the Link Type drop-down menu in the Create Link dialog box.
The invisible rectangle will be appropriate for most PDFs. If you choose a visible rectangle, you can also select the line style, thickness, and color from the Create Link dialog box.
7. Select Open a web page in the Link Action section.
8. Select the Next button.
9. Enter the external link in the Edit URL dialog box.
10. Select the OK button.
11. Select the X to close the Edit PDF toolbar.
If you chose Invisible Rectangle in step 6, you’ll still see a rectangle around the link you created until you close the Edit PDF toolbar. The rectangle won’t reappear when you reopen the toolbar.
Pro Tip: You can ensure the link has been added by hovering your cursor over the text; a tooltip should appear showing the URL.
Delete External Links in PDFs
1. Select the selection tool (arrow cursor) to deselect any other tools currently in use.
2. Right-click on the text connected to the link.
3. Select Delete Link from the pop-up menu. (The options offered by this pop-up menu can be temperamental. If you don’t see Delete Link, close the Edit PDF toolbar and then try again from step 2.)
Pro Tip: Adobe Acrobat won’t tell you that the link has been deleted; however, you can ensure the link is gone by hovering your cursor over the text. If your cursor changes to a pointing-finger cursor, the link hasn’t been deleted.
Further Reading: Three Ways to Create Bookmarks in PDFs with Adobe Acrobat