10 Essential Tips for Adobe Acrobat

The following tips are for Acrobat XI. Many of them also work in older versions of Acrobat, though the locations and names of specific menu items may be different.

1. Got an old file (like an EPS) that you want to convert to PDF? Just drag and drop it on top of Acrobat application icon. This will launch Acrobat Distiller and convert the file. In Windows, you can also right-click a file in and choose Convert to Adobe PDF.

When Distiller’s running you can drag and drop multiple files into the Distiller window to batch covert (and select conversion settings).

Alternatively, in Acrobat choose File > Create > Batch Create Multiple Files.

2. You can use Acrobat to create PDFs from just about any content you can copy to your clipboard. Select File > Create > PDF from Clipboard.

3. Choose PDF settings that are appropriate for your intended output. For example, “High Quality Print” is for PDFs you plan to print on desktop printers and proofing devices. This preset downsamples color and grayscale images to 300 ppi and monochrome images to 1200 ppi. All fonts are embedded and subset, colors are left unchanged, and transparency is not flattened.

For a full description of all the PDF settings you select, check out the PDF conversion settings page on Adobe.com.

4. You can edit or replace images in a PDF by clicking on them with the Select tool and choosing Edit Image from the contextual menu. This opens the Content Editing panel where you can work on the image in the PDF or select a separate application, like Photoshop.

5. Add bookmarks to your PDFs to help readers navigate to specific content.

With the Select tool, click on an image to bookmark it. Or drag with the Select tool to bookmark just a portion of an image (the zoom level is included in the bookmark).

To bookmark text, drag to select it. The selected text becomes the label of the new bookmark, which you can edit if desired.

6. To edit a hyperlink, select the Add or Edit Link tool (choose Tools > Content Editing > Add or Edit Link) then double click on the area inside the link rectangle to open the Link Properties dialog box where you can control the appearance and actions of the link.

You can also move or resize the link rectangle to define a different clickable area.

7. When working with PDF forms, if you have multiple fields you want filled with the exact same information, give the fields identical names in the Properties dialog box. When the user fills in one of the fields, the others with the same name will be automatically filled. To access the Properties dialog box, double click on a field with the Select Object tool.

8. When adding comments to a PDF you can indicate a text edit by selecting text with the Select tool, right clicking, and choosing Add Note to Replace Text.

9. When signing a PDF, you can use an image that looks like your real signature by signing a blank piece of paper, scanning it, and saving it in a common image file format (JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIFF, or PDF). Then when you’re signing a PDF, in the Sign Document dialog box choose Appearance > Create New Appearance. Then choose Configure Graphic > Imported Graphic and select the scan of your real signature.

Deselect the Configure Text options to display just just the scanned image.

10. Speed up your workflow by enabling single-key shortcuts. Open the Preferences dialog box, and in the General area, select Use single-key accelerators to access tools.

Then you can press V for the Select tool, R for the Select Object tool, L for the Link tool, etc.

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Posted on: April 23, 2013

Mike Rankin

Mike is the Editor in Chief of InDesignSecrets.com, InDesign Magazine, and CreativePro.com. He is also the author of several lynda.com video training series, including Font Management Essential Training, InDesign FX, and InDesign CC: Interactive Document Fundamentals.

2 Comments on 10 Essential Tips for Adobe Acrobat

  1. How do I learn to put the system time and local weather on my pdf?

  2. Hi Mike,

    Great article. I use Acrobat every day and never knew that I could link out and bookmark sections of the PDF. I just recently started using the markup tool to leave comments and arrows pointing at things.

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