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August 15, 2008 /News, Views & Updates /

Archive your emails using Acrobat

In Acrobat 7, we introduced a PDF based solution for email archiving that could be used to convert emails and entire folders from MS Outlook into searchable PDF files. Since then we have continued to invest in this solution by adding support for Lotus Notes and providing advanced auto-archiving capabilities. It is a scalable, easy to use and reliable solution for ad hoc archiving of emails on the desktop. More after the break…

Some of the reasons we’ve heard why users might need to archive their emails include:

  1. Compliance with Regulatory or audit Requirements:
    • Companies in certain industries (e.g. healthcare, legal, financial services) are required by law to archive specific records, including email, for specific time periods.
    • All electronic data including emails is subject to the discovery process. When required by law, you are required to share all your emails with investigative agencies.
    • Line functions like Finance, Admin are required to save certain type of email communication like approvals etc for audit purpose. They resort to printing these emails and filing them in absence of a robust solution.
  2. Archiving emails related to a project, case hearing etc.
    • After completing a project before moving on to another project, users can archive their project related emails to a secure archive and upload to a shared folder/document management system. If required, they or any team member (with valid access) can access these mails anytime in future.
    • An employee moving to a new project or company can convert his emails to an archive and hand that over as part of transitioning his responsibilities.

And PDF can be an excellent format for archiving your email:

  • PDF being an open format eliminates the dependency on proprietary mail formats.
  • PDFs are platform independent and can be viewed/printed on any computer having free Adobe Reader which is widely available.
  • Once converted to PDF, you can work on your emails in Acrobat in conjunction with other PDF documents.
  • You will still be able to open PDF mail archives created today many years from now.

Here are some of the highlights of the Acrobat email archiving solution:

  1. Intuitive and Easy to use interface for archiving emails.  You can convert selected emails or entire folders to PDF in a single click, using the menu option:.

    You can also set up automatic archival of specific folders using the Automatic Archival feature. This feature incrementally archives the newer emails present in the specified folders at every scheduled run.
  2. Support for Outlook and Lotus Notes: Acrobat 9 supports MS Outlook XP, 2003 & 2007 and Lotus Notes 6, 6.5, 7 & 8 for email archiving.
  3. Advanced search functionality: PDF emails include the complete mail header info for the emails. These emails (including non PDF attachments) can be quickly located using Acrobat’s advanced search functionality.
  4. Rich consumption experience: Acrobat 9 includes a flash based UI for users to easily view/print/search their archived emails. For more details, you can look at Rick Borstein’s video demonstration in his blog posting here.

So what are you waiting for? Start archiving your emails using Acrobat and share your experience with us. We look forward to hearing from you.


Aman Deep Nagpal, Acrobat Product Manager

Categories: News, Views & Updates


  • By Kevin Williamson - 5:42 AM on August 15, 2008   Reply

    Is this feature available for Entourage or older versions of Outlook?

    [Kevin – See above. Acrobat 9 supports Outlook (Windows) XP, 2003 & 2007 and Lotus Notes(Windows) 6, 6.5, 7 & 8 for email archiving. Thanks. – Dave]

  • By Tony Bailey - 2:20 AM on November 18, 2008   Reply

    I love this feature but it is incredibly resource intensive and while running it pretty much stops me from being able to use Outlook. Can you not run it in the background?

    [In A9, we added a functionality to run PDF conversion in non-intrusive mode. In A9, while mails are being converted to PDF, you can minimize the conversion dialog, and resume working on your emails in Outlook or Lotus Notes without any interference from the conversion dialog. – Aman]

  • By Dorothy Rubinoff - 1:30 PM on December 4, 2008   Reply

    I cannot get the Acrobat 9 Pro archiving to work with Lotus Notes 8.0.2. Don’t get the options under Archive, so I can’t archive any e-mails

    [Dorothy – You should see the “Acrobat Convert to PDF” options under the Action Menu. If you don’t find the options here, you can consult this document which will help you troubleshoot. Finally, you may need to contact Adobe Support directly. Sometimes when enterprises have customized Lotus Notes installations, it can interfere with Acrobat availability within Lotus Notes. – Aman]

  • By Christopher S. Beer - 3:44 PM on January 13, 2009   Reply

    Please advise if there are plans to port this feature over to Entourage. Our law firm switched from PC to Mac and (wrongly) assumed that such a basic and essential feature would be available.
    Any recommended work arounds?

    [Christopher – There are currently no plans to port this to Entourage. On the Mac, you could create PDFs from individual emails and then combine all of those into a PDF Portfolio. – Dave]

  • By Chris - 1:37 PM on February 12, 2009   Reply

    I love this feature, but when I upgraded to Acrobat 8 and Outlook 2007 from Acrobat 7 and Outlook 2003, the PDFs I create no longer have bookmarks by date, sender, ect to sort with. Is there something I am not seeing in Acrobat 8 that will allow me to create the bookmarks like Acrobat 7 did?

    [In Acrobat 7, if you archived multiple emails into a single PDF, Acrobat would club all the e-mails into a single flat PDF. By flat, I mean it would be a single document in which each email would begin in a new page after the previous e-mail. In order to make navigation easier, Acrobat 7 would create bookmarks by date, sender etc so that you could navigate. However, this was still cumbersome to navigate because it was not easy to sort the emails by date, sender etc., especially if you were archiving tens or hundreds of emails.
    In Acrobat 8 this behavior was changed such that each e-mail was an individual PDF clubbed together into a container PDF “package” (called PDF Portfolio from Acrobat 9 onwards). A PDF Portfolio is a PDF with the ability to have one or more PDFs inside it. The advantage this provided was that you could now easily sort e-mails by sender, subject, date etc. as well as extract individual e-mails out as PDFs of their own. When you open such a PDF you should see a view where the emails are displayed as a list in the top half of the page and clicking on any email will show a preview in the bottom half. Clicking on any field (such as “Date”) in the header column of the top half will sort the list by that field – Sanjoy]

  • By Micah - 4:14 PM on November 12, 2009   Reply

    Can we reply to emails in the PDF file, after the emails have been archived?

    [Micah – Sure. Just give it a try. In the resulting PDF the sender’s name and the recipients’ names become click-able links. So to reply to the sender, you just need to click on the link in the PDF and a new email will be created. – Dave]

  • By Matthew - 9:58 AM on January 21, 2010   Reply

    I have been using the auto archive feature and it has been a life saver, however, I would like to know if there is a way to append each PDF portfolio to include the date that the archive was ran.

    [Matthew – There is a log file you can create which will contain information about every run of the auto archival feature. You can access this from Adobe PDF -> Setup Automatic Archival -> Maintain Log of Archival. However, this is a separate file – it is not appended to the PDF portfolio automatically. From the PDF Portfolio itself, you can always check the last time the portfolio was updated / modified (i.e. auto-archival was completed) by checking its properties (File menu -> Portfolio Properties. Look for the “Modified” date time stamp). Hope this helps. – Sanjoy]

  • By Jeff Peterson - 11:35 AM on February 1, 2010   Reply

    Is there any way to set up Acrobat so that emails within a certain date range are automatically archived–i.e to create a PDF portfolio for emails between June and November 2009? This would work much better for us than by specifying certain folders.

  • By Dean Stampfli - 2:30 PM on February 2, 2010   Reply

    Using Outlook 2003 on Win XP Professional (64-bit) and Acrobat 7. Converting an email works just as described above, but when I try to do another one, a box flashes quickly on and off the screen, and no PDF is created.
    If I exit Outlook and re-enter, it allows me to convert another email to PDF – but only ONE. The second attempt never works.
    What am I doing wrong?

  • By Slava - 10:40 AM on February 11, 2010   Reply

    Hi David,
    I love the MSG to PDF conversion feature and how PDF packages can help organize e-mails. The only problem is that one cannot reply to (all) or forward a message from a PDF package retaining the previous correpsondence and attachments in the body of the new message.
    A packaged e-mail can only be attached to a new message or exported into, say, MS Word format and then sent, which is not always what you want.
    It would be great if one could export messages from a pdf package back into the MS Outlook format or if the Reply/Forward functionality was retained for the packaged e-mails.
    Have a great day!

  • By Sanjoy - 4:40 AM on February 12, 2010   Reply

    Hi Slava – Thanks for the feedback. Typically we see our customers use the feature for archival and therefore round tripping of e-mails from the archived Porfolio is not a common request. If we were to add this feature how and in what scenarios would you use it? Thanks, Sanjoy

  • By Sanjoy - 4:44 AM on February 12, 2010   Reply

    Hi Jeff – No automatic way of doing this. You could do this manually by setting up an Outlook rule to move emails within a certain date range into a folder and then archiving the folder.

  • By Pat Wong - 8:28 PM on February 25, 2010   Reply

    The PDFMaker interface with Lotus Notes 7 application only convert the following folders to PDF: Draft, Sent, Follow Up, Junk Mail and Folders for JunkMail and SendAndFileFolder. The most important “All Documents” view was excluded. How can I archive an entire Lotus Notes .nsf file to PDF?

  • By Colby - 12:24 PM on February 26, 2010   Reply

    Is there any talk of adding Windows login/password data fields so the auto-archiving could be run in the evening after the user has logged off or shut down Outlook?

  • By Daphne Jenkins - 10:55 AM on April 16, 2010   Reply

    In my PDF email package, I don’t see the view where the emails are displayed as a list in the top half of the page and clicking on any email shows a preview in the bottom half. How do I turn this feature on?

  • By Chuck Bernardo - 4:54 AM on May 18, 2010   Reply

    I’d like to add the “to” field to my pdf portfolios. I could’ve sworn it worked before, but I don’t see that field available anymore. I’m using Acrobat Pro 9.

  • By Dennis Sills - 8:23 AM on May 24, 2010   Reply

    I run the automated archival on many folders in my Outlook account. A couple of weeks ago, the archival process stopped at a specific folder. When I tried to manually run the Archival for all those folders, it failed at the same folder.
    Any suggestions or possible solutions?

  • By Anuj Gupta - 2:25 AM on May 25, 2010   Reply

    You can add the “to” field to your pdf portfolio. Go to “Modify” drop down in the PDF portfolio top bar. In the drop down, select “View” and then select “To” field. This will modify the view accordingly.

  • By Chuck Bernardo - 7:14 AM on August 19, 2010   Reply

    I want to transfer an email that was archived onto one pdf portfolio to another. I exported out the emails I wanted to transfer and saved them as individual pdf files. When I go to import them into the portfolio I want them to be in, I am able to modify To, From, and Subject Line. When I get to date, I am only allowed to modify the date in the current month (August only). I want to enter the date associated with the email for proper filtering purposes. Is there something I am missing? Thanks.

  • By Glen Wolfrom - 1:52 PM on November 4, 2010   Reply

    I have just switched to Outlook 2007 and Acrobat 9. Previously (when using older versions), creating a PDF file from Outlook email automatically generated bookmarks by sender, subject, and date. It appears that this is no longer possible using the newer versions.

    Am I missing a setting somewhere to automatically generate bookmarks?

  • By Chloe - 3:10 AM on November 27, 2011   Reply

    Firstly there is a menu for “Adobe PDF Maker” in my outlook but then its gone!!

    I’m soo stress to get it back, PLEASE HELP!

    How can I add it in my outlook menu again!

  • By Adobe - 11:14 AM on January 3, 2012   Reply

    Hi Scot, please check this thread on the Adobe forums for more info and updates on this matter: Thank you!

  • By Robert - 9:32 AM on February 13, 2012   Reply

    Running Acrobat 8 Pro on MS Office 2007 on Vista Bus OEM
    I run the automated archival on many folders in my Outlook account. On my first cycle the archival process stopped at a specific folder. When I tried to manually run the Archival for all those folders, it failed at the same folder.
    Any suggestions or possible solutions?

    • By Adobe - 1:41 PM on February 15, 2012   Reply

      It sounds like there may a permissions issue on that particular folder. Try creating a similarly named folder (for example, your original folder was called Customer_Files, make a new folder called Customer_Files1) and move all of the contents of the problematic folder to the new folder. See if you can run the Archival for the new folder. If it works, delete the original folder, rename your new folder and you’re good to go. If it fails, it’s likely some content within that folder that’s causing the problem. Try a divide and conquer approach. Take half the emails from that folder and place it in your new folder. Try to Archive. Continue this process to narrow down the problematic file(s). — DK

  • By Jennifer - 11:50 AM on June 8, 2012   Reply

    I understand the method to adding the “to” field into the portfolio created from outlook. However, I have a lot of portfolios that I have to add this field to. Doing this task manually takes me a long time. Is there a setting in outlook to have it create the portfolio with the “to” field already in it? If so that would save me a lot of time and hassle down the road. Thanks!

  • By Eldon Olson - 7:56 AM on June 27, 2012   Reply

    I have looked in vain for similar instructions about about the save email from Windows Live Mail as pdf files.
    I assume there by now there must be such instructions, but they sure are not easy to find.

    • By ___________________________________________ - 5:05 PM on June 27, 2012   Reply

      Hi Eldon. If you have Adobe Acrobat installed, you can simply print your emails from the browser to the Adobe PDF printer or use the ‘Convert to PDF’ function within your web browser.

  • By Nancie Deckard - 9:44 AM on July 5, 2012   Reply

    When I run this tool in Outlook, the resulting email pdfs do not have the to/from and or subject line informaiton. They are there, but they are blank!
    Can you help me?
    (I really need this functionality…) I have Acrobat X Pro and Outlook 2010.

    Thank You,

  • By Ted - 5:40 AM on August 6, 2012   Reply

    Hi, I’m running Acrobat X, version 10.1.3 with Lotus Notes 8.5.. I really like this feature but is runs very unstable: e.g. export stops with flashing header of status window (The 2nd try is alway working in this case), the resulting pdf contains only a black page, resulting pdf contains only the header but no content, exported mails contain HEX-code

    • By ___________________________________________ - 6:25 PM on August 6, 2012   Reply

      Hi Ted, sorry to hear you’re having trouble. Could you share this issue on our Creating, Editing & Exporting forums? Please include the exact version of Acrobat X & Lotus Notes as you have installed as well as any unique or different characteristics of the emails you’re trying to archive that are getting hung up. If you receive any error message, include that too. Our employees and community experts would like to try to help!

  • By Matt - 2:14 PM on December 5, 2012   Reply

    Our corporate retention policy mandates that email cannot be stored locally. What are the enterprise controls to prevent the use of this feature within our organization?

  • By Jim - 7:26 PM on February 23, 2013   Reply

    Archiving the Outlook email folders work great. But when I archive my inbox to the same PDF, it will archive and then gets stuck at the same spot (Subject=[None]).

    What is the problem? And how can I fix it?

    • By Acrobat - 6:34 PM on February 25, 2013   Reply

      Hi Jim, could you post your question here: Please include the exact version of Acrobat and Outlook you have installed. Our staff and community experts would love to help!

  • By bob - 11:46 AM on June 9, 2013   Reply

    When I converted my Outlook email to a PDF portfolio it used to show the sub-folders as folders right at the top. Now when I use it I cannot find the folders in the list at all but the email that is in the folders is there and the function that designated “include subfolders” is on and is working. The problem is that I can’t see the email sub-folders as subfolders in the resulting Portfolio as I could previously do.
    Any help appreciated. possibly I inadvertently checked a box that I didnt mean to . . .

    • By joiemikitson - 2:13 PM on June 10, 2013   Reply

      Hi Bob, make sure the “Do not include folder name information” box is not checked in the Adobe PDF > Change Conversion Settings preference box in Outlook.

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