Acrobat DC ends the dreaded “Renderable Text” Error for Scanned Docs

Acrobat (XI and earlier) sometimes confounded legal professionals during the scanning and OCR process with “renderable text” errors.

In older versions of Acrobat, if vector text was found outside of the page boundaries, Acrobat would refuse to OCR the document. Here’s the error message you would typically see:

renderable_text_error

Over the years, I found a variety of odd PDFs from fax systems or other systems that would add vector text or graphics in odd places on the page which would cause errors. At one time, I even helped a small law firm discover that the other side had deliberately embedded vector text to prevent OCR. Ah, the games that get played in discovery, but, I digress . . .

Adobe implemented a partial resolution and I wrote about the fix for the issue in Acrobat 8. This specific fix resolved the problem as long as the renderable vector elements were found within 20% of the page boundaries. However, we still found users that ran into this issue, especially with federal court files which contained vector stamps which sometimes were placed right in the middle of the page.

The good news is that Acrobat DC is can segment image layers from text layers in existing PDFs and OCR the image layer only.

To test this, I created a text comment on top of a scanned PDF, then flattened the file. Note that the text I placed is directly in the middle of the page (see below).

OCRs Just Fine!

Acrobat OCRd the scanned image layer and the document is completely searchable.

You won’t find this listed among the Acrobat DC new features, but here’s to progress.

Well, uh, it’s almost gone . . .

You might still run into the Renderable Text error if you try to OCR a document which is completely vector-based (an electronic PDF if you will).

An example of a document that will still trigger the error when you try to OCR is a text-only document created in Word and directly output to PDF.

From time to time, a customer will send me a PDF which generates the error. I often discover that the document isn’t a scanned document at all. In that case, you don’t need to OCR the document because all the text is already searchable.

 

Acrobat DC New Feature: Tools Search

Acrobat, like other business software, has a lot of tools. In most software, you have to know where to access a tool to use it. That can be frustrating if you don’t use the tool frequently.

One of my favorite features of Acrobat DC is Tools Search. Now, you can type in the name of the tool to find it.

Here’s how it works . . .

Let’s say you have some confidential information in a document which needs to be redacted (permanently removed).

Redaction tools aren’t part of the default panels in Acrobat DC, and maybe you don’t use them very frequently.

Just click your cursor in the Search Tools field:

000_ui_start

 

Then, type a few characters of the tool name. Boom! You just found the tool!

001_search_entered

 

Even though I used Acrobat all the time, I still will search for tools from time to time. It’s fast and it means I don’t have to remember where a tool is to actually use it.

What do legal professionals need to know about Adobe Acrobat DC?

Those of you who follow my blog are no doubt saying, “Gosh, Rick, aren’t you a bit late to the game here?” After all, Adobe Acrobat DC shipped three weeks ago.

I am negligent, although on advice of counsel I will not actually admit that . . .   :-)

In this post, I’ll present just the essentials of the Acrobat DC. I hope to follow up with more detailed posts in the future.

Adobe Acrobat DC Essentials for Legal Professionals

  1. Adobe Acrobat DC is the latest version of Acrobat and is the successor to Acrobat XI
  2. The “DC” stands for Document Cloud, a set of (optional) connected cloud services for Acrobat
  3. The PDF file format has not changed.
    Any work you produce with Acrobat DC can be opened in previous versions or other tools which work with PDF
  4. The new version includes about 40 new features and a redesigned interface
  5. You can buy Adobe Acrobat DC via subscription (paid monthly or annually) or perpetually (purchase outright).
    I plan to blog more on this topic, so stay tuned.
  6. New Adobe Acrobat DC Mobile app

What are the Document Cloud services?

Many attorneys are already using cloud services. You may wonder what your ethical obligations are when using cloud services. I suggest you consult the Practice Management section of your local bar association for advice. Some US states have issued opinions and the American Bar Association offers this useful web page which aggregates this information: Cloud Ethics Opinions Around the U.S.

For many of our legal customers, the idea of cloud services is new, but I must say that the services available with Adobe Acrobat DC are really useful and work very well. I think you will enjoy using them in your practice.

Below, I’ve included brief descriptions of the services which I think are most valuable for legal professionals.

Electronic Signatures

icon-sign-it-your-way-65x65With Acrobat DC, you can collect legal e-signatures quickly and securely — without printing, faxing, overnight delivery or requiring your client to come to your office. This eliminates paper and saves time. More importantly, it removes friction from signature processes and keeps the workflow completely digital. Recipients sign documents in any web browser on any device (PC, Mac, tablet or phone). All parties receive a certified, tamper-evident PDF with a full audit trail.

Learn more about Electronic Signatures included with Adobe Acrobat DC

Send and Track

icon-upload-large-files-65x65Send and Track allows you to send large files to clients and colleagues. You can easily track the progress of your sent files from anywhere and you will be notified by email when a file is viewed. Send and Track is integrated into Acrobat DC, but you can also access it from your web browser or use the Outlook add-in (Win only) to easily send links to large attachments.

Learn more about Send and Track included with Adobe Acrobat DC

Mobile Link

icon-make-access-easy-65x65Mobile Link allows you to access recent PDF files you have opened from any device. This feature transparently makes any PDF you’ve opened available in any Acrobat client (desktop or mobile). It even opens the file to the exact same page! You no longer have to email a document to yourself or explicitly save a document in a designated folder. I have to say this feature works incredibly well and I use it daily.

Learn more about Mobile Link included with Acrobat DC

What new features are included in Adobe Acrobat DC?

Acrobat DC includes 41 new or enhanced features. Consult this table which compares to Adobe Acrobat DC to Acrobat XI 

I plan to blog in more detail about some of the features in the future.

 

In case files are missing . . .

fileA request for my blog readers . . .

If you find a post with a missing file, please let me know.

The best way to do so is to a Post a Comment to the article. Please include the URL when you do and a description of the issue.

Thanks!

Rick

 

Creating a PDF at the Right Output Size and Dimensions

Most of us are familiar with typical document sizes such as letter (8.5″ by 11″), legal (8.5″ by 14″) and ledger/tabloid (11″ by 17″).

A recent email I received made me realize that not everyone knows how to actually format their documents to match:

I have the attached document that I need to output at 14 inches wide by 14 inches high. When I print to PDF, there is not a choice for this. I’ve attached the Word file so you can take a look . . .

When I opened the document, I realized that the document was set to Letter size in landscape orientation (11″ by 8.5″). I was able to work with the customer to find a solution, so I thought I would share it here.

Setting the Page Size in Microsoft Office

If you are using an Office application, such as Word, Excel or PowerPoint, you should create and edit your document at the desired print dimensions. That way, your editing process will reflect the physical page size.

When you change the page size in Word, the layout will adjust automatically and text will reflow.

Here’s how to change the page size of a document in Word. This is for Office 2013, but 2007 and 2010 versions are substantially identical.

  1. Go to the Page Layout Ribbon in Word
  2. Click the Size button
    001_Word_ribbon
  3. Choose More Page Sizes at the bottom
    002_page_sizes
  4. Enter your desired page size and click OK
    003_page_size
  5. Click the Acrobat ribbon in Word
  6. Click Create PDF
    004_create_pdf

Checking the Page Size in Acrobat

Acrobat will convert the document to the exact page size specified in Word.

Here’s how to check. With the file open . . .

  1. File> Properties
  2. Click the Description tab
    005_select_tab
  3. The PDF Page size is listed:
    006_pdf_properties

Using the PDF Printer and Preserving Page Size

Maintaining page size is tricker when printing via the AdobePDF printer. For example, when I created a 5.25 X 7.25 custom page size and printed to the PDF printer, the output looked like this:

007_page_size

It is possible to maintain the PDF page size by creating a custom page size for the PDF Printer. Here’s how . . .

  1. Create your document in the tool of your choice and make note of the page size
  2. Choose File>Print
  3. Select the AdobePDF Printer
  4. Click the Settings option for the Adobe PDF Printer
    Note: The labeling and position of this option will vary depending upon the application used
  5. In the Adobe PDF Document Properties window, click the Add button . . .
    008_custom_size

  6. Give the new page size a name
  7. Set the dimensions of the new page size and click Add/Modigy
    009_customer_settings

  8. Choose the new page size from the Adobe PDF Page Size menu and click OK.
    010_page_size_select

  9. Print the document. The results should match the page size:
    011_new_size

Note: Word and other applications may complain about margins and paper size when you go to print.. You can ignore these issues.

In my testing, the page size setting wasn’t “sticky”, at least in Word. That’s probably a good thing since I think most of us create standard letter-size and other documents.

Dial a Phone from a PDF Link on Mobile Devices

Clients and customers often review PDFs on their mobile phones. Perhaps you’ve sent an Intake Agreement to your client which they open on their iPhone or Android device.  Your client then has a question and they want to call you.

Your phone number appears on the PDF you sent, but your client needs to know how to copy it, then paste it into the dialer application on their phone. That’s a hassle. Wouldn’t it be great if they could simply click the phone number in the PDF and dial the phone?

Yep, that’s possible! This capability is also very useful to add to your marketing brochures. Why not make it easy for potential clients to contact you?

Add a Phone Dialer Link to a PDF

You can add a special URL to a link so that it will dial the phone. Here’s how to add a “Dial the Phone” URL in Acrobat.

  1. Open a PDF document
    A) Choose the Selection tool
    B) Highlight a phone number
    000_letterhead
  2. With the phone number highlighted, right-click and choose “Create Link”:
    Create Link Option
  3. The Create Link window opens.
    A) Set the Link Action to”Open a Web Page”
    B: Click the Next button002_create_link_window_1 
  4. Enter the phone number you wish to dial in the following format: tel:3125558888
    NOTE: Do not add any spaces or dashes.
    A) Enter phone number into URL field
    B) Click OK003_enter_phone_number_r2
  5. Save the document.

What happens on the mobile device?

When your client or customer clicks on the phone number, it will open the dialer application on the phone:

004_dial_screen

 

I’ve tested this on Adobe Reader Mobile on both Android and iOS, but other PDF viewers may also support this.

If the recipient opens the PDF on a desktop or tablet device, the link will be ignored.

23 Free Review Stamps for Acrobat

Acrobat includes a plethora of review tools, but most are not very eye catching. You want your edits to get noticed, right?

Today, I’m sharing a set of 23 stamps that I have designed. These stamps help you call attention to your edits with colorful iconography:

Stamps included

Stamps included in the file

I created the stamps using Adobe Illustrator, so each stamp is a tiny, vector file that scales and prints well. The text has been converted to outlines, so adding a stamp from the supplied file does not embed fonts in your document.

Download the Stamps File

Review Stamps.pdf

Right-click the link above and choose Save As or Save Target As to download the file to your desktop.

The Stamps file is a PDF, but it has some special properties. You must install the file for it to work as a stamp.

IOW, just opening the file won’t do you any good!

Install the Stamp File

Follow these steps to install the Stamps file.

Note that you will need to be an admin on your computer to install the file.

  1. Quit Acrobat XI if it is already open.
  2. Copy the Review Stamps.pdf file to the User Stamps folder:
    • WIN 7 or WIN8
      C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Acrobat\11.0\Stamps
      MAC OSX
    • /Macintosh HD/Users/USERNAME/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Acrobat/11.0/Stamps/

The folders might be hidden . . .

These folder locations may be hidden on your computer, so don’t freak out if you don’t see them at first.

Here are some tips for finding them:

WIN: Open an Explorer window and paste the path into it. Change the USERNAME to your user name and hit enter.
MAC: Open your Home folder, then go to the View menu and choose Show View Options. Check Show Library Folder.

On the Mac, you will need to show your Library folder

On the Mac, you will need to show your Library folder

Another way to find the Stamps folder

An alternate way to find your stamps folder is to have Acrobat tell you where it is located. You can do this from the JavaScript debugger. Here’s how:

  1. Hit CTRL-J (Win) or CMD-J (Mac)
  2. Enter app.getPath(“user”, “stamps”);
  3. Hit CTRL-ENTER (Win) or CMD-Enter (Mac) to see the stamps path
Use the JavaScript debugger to find the stamps folder

Use the JavaScript debugger to find the stamps folder

Using the Stamps

This part is easy!

  1. Open the Comment pane
  2. Click the Stamp tool
  3. Choose the Review Stamps category
  4. Choose the stamp to place on the document

Using the Stamp

A few tips for using Stamps

Add a Note to your Stamp

After adding the stamp, double-click it to add a note:

Double-click the note to add a sticky note to it.

Double-click the note to add a sticky note to it.

Keep the tool selected

04_keep_selected

This option will keep the Stamp tool selected, but you will need to select the individual stamp needed.

To keep the Stamp tool selected, right-click on it and choose Keep Tool Selected:

Sizing Stamps

Stamps may be sized. Just click and drag to size as you apply them. Or, select the stamp later and drag the handles to scale it.

Stamps may be rotated. After applying the stamp, find the rotation point and drag to rotate the stamp:
05_rotation_point

List View for Stamps

If you don’t like the gigantic list of stamps with preview, choose “Show Stamp Names” from the Stamp menu to use a slim, text only list:

Choose this option to see a text-only list of stamps

Choose this option to see a text-only list of stamps

Add the Stamp Tool as a Quick Tool

Quick Tools appear at the top of the document window. Add the Stamps tool so that you don’t need to open the Comments pane.

Right-click on the Stamp tool and choose Add to Quick Tools:
09_add_to_quick_tools

010_added_to_quick_tools

Deleting or Changing the Order of the Stamps

You can re-order or delete stamps in the file.

Open the Review Stamps.pdf file in Acrobat from the your Stamps folder (see above).

Open the Pages panel in Acrobat. Note that the first page is blank. DO NOT DELETE the First page.

To Delete a stamp, select the thumbnail, right-click, and choose Delete Page

To re-0rder the stamps, drag the thumbnail of the page to a new location.

Use the Pages Panel to delete or re-order the stamps file.

Use the Pages Panel to delete or re-order the stamps file.

Need to know more about working with Stamps?

Visit the Acrobat Help page:

http://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/using/adding-stamp-pdf.html

 

List Form Fields with this Acrobat XI Pro Action

Jonathan Schreiber, a very smart colleague of mine who specializes in Adobe EchoSign, asked me if it was possible to list all of the form fields in a PDF. Jonathan was developing an application to map the Acrobat form fields to a custom API for EchoSign.

If you don’t understand what any of that means, don’t worry about it. If you develop PDF forms, it can be useful to have an inventory of all of the fields. That can help you check for errors and better understand tabbing order and naming.

Oddly, although the Forms panel in Acrobat shows a list of them, there is no way to export the list.

So, I cooked up an Acrobat Action which uses a custom JavaScript to write all of the field names, in order, to the JavaScript console:

000_list_fields

You can select the text in the Console and copy it into another application or (top tip!) choose Create PDF from Clipboard in Acrobat to create a new PDF listing your fields.

Installing the Action

  1. Download the List Form Fields Action here
  2. Unzip the file
  3. Rename the action to List Form Fields.sequ
  4. Double-click the .SEQU file to import to Acrobat.

Some Set-Up

Most folks should be able to use the Action to write the form fields list to the JavaScript Console. However, it wouldn’t hurt to make sure that your JavaScript settings are set correctly so that it works.

Choose Edit>Preferences and select the JavaScript category. On the Mac, choose the Application menu, then Preferences.

Make sure your JavaScript Prefs look like this:

JavaScipt console Prefs

Using the Action

Here’s how to use the List Form Fields action:

  1. Open a PDF with form fields
  2. Open the Tools pane then open the Actions section
  3. Locate the List Form Fields action and click on itSelect the List Form Fields Action
  4. Click the Start button
    Start the Action

A few Notes about the Action

The Action works on both AcroForms (traditional Acrobat forms) as well as LiveCycle Designer (XML-based) forms.

If your organization deploys Acrobat with JavaScript turned off and locked, you will not be able to run this Action. If your JavaScript preferences are grayed out, that is likely the case.

 

 

Speed up PDF Search with an Embedded Index

I recently received this query from a customer:

I have assembled over 4000 pages of case data into a single PDF. When I choose Search (CTRL-F) and search for a keyword, it can take a while time to find a word. Is there any way to speed up the search?

Heck yeah!  Acrobat Pro allows you to embed a full-text index in a document which greatly accelerates search. The index travels with the document (it’s embedded, duh!). An embedded index speeds up search ten to twenty times.

In this article, I’ll show you how to embed an index in a PDF. You can literally do this in a minute or two!

Note: Acrobat Pro can also create a cross-document index. I’ve written about this before.

Embedding an Index in a PDF

  1. Open the PDF in which you want to embed the index. If the PDF is a scanned document, you should OCR it first.
  2. Open the Tools Pane and click on the Document Processing section:00_doc_processing_section

    NOTE: If you don’t see a Document Processing section, click the flyout menu to make the section visible:01_flyout

  3. In the Document Processing section, choose Manage Embedded Index 

    02_manage_embedded_index

  4. The Build window opens. Click the Embed Index button.03_embed_button

     

  5. Depending on the size of your document, building the index may take a few seconds to a minute or two. Generally, Acrobat indexes very fast.04_index_finished

With that simple change, even the largest PDFs can be searched super-fast.

If you add to your PDF over time, simply update the Embedded Index following the steps above.

Two Kinds of Search

Acrobat offers two variants of search.

FIND allows you to find the next or previous instance of search term. You can get to Find by typing CTRL/CMD-F:
06_find_window

ADVANCED SEARCH returns a search results lists which includes a snippet of the text in context. This is one of the best ways to quickly spot a search term. Advanced Search also includes a number of advanced search features such boolean operators (AND, NOT, OR) and many other remarkable features.

How to use Advanced Search in Acrobat

The best way to get the benefit of faster search with an embedded index is to use Acrobat Advanced Search option.

To get to Advanced Search, choose Edit> Advanced Search or type CTRL-ALT-F on Windows or CMD-OPT-F on the Mac.

In the Advanced Search window, simply type in the word or phrase you are looking for and hit the Search button.

Acrobat will return a contextual hit list of words. Below, I searched for the term “preflight” and found 254 instances in the document.

05_advanced_search

 

 

Adding a Circle Stamp in Acrobat or Reader

I hate filling out paper forms! Not only is my handwriting terrible, but the whole print/scan/send routine is time consuming.

Fortunately, both Adobe Acrobat and Reader have the hand Sign pane which let’s you add text, add checkmarks and sign a document:

00_sign_pane

 

While these tools are great, they don’t cover all of the use cases for typical paper forms, for example one like this:

01_use_case

On a paper form, you’d simply circle either Yes or No, but that is missing from the Sign pane in Acrobat. Fortunately, you can easily include a Circle Stamp. The procedure below works in either Adobe Reader XI or Acrobat.

Download the Stamps

Both Reader XI and Acrobat can use existing PDF files as stamps. While Acrobat can convert virtually any artwork to PDF, Reader cannot. To help out, I’ve included three Circle Stamps below (Red, Blue, Black) which you can import and use. Download these to your computer and follow the steps below.

red_circle_stamp (9k PDF)

black_circle_stamp (9k PDF)

blue_circle_stamp (9k PDF)

These small PDFs each are small circles with a diameter of 12 points.

Creating the Custom Stamp

Follow these steps to import that stamp

  1. Choose Comment Pane > Annotations > Stamps
    02_stamps_pane
  2. Click Stamps Tool and choose the flyout menu> Create Custom Stamp:

    03_stamps_flyout

  3. Click Import, and select the stamp file you downloaded from my example above.
    04_select_stamp
  4. Choose a category from the menu or type a new category name (such as My Circle Stamps), name the custom stamp (e.g. Blue Circle), and then click OK.

    05_name_stamp

Apply a stamp

Once you have created the stamp, you can apply it to your document.

  1. Click the Stamp tool. The most recently used stamp is selected.
  2. In the Stamps Palette, choose a category from the menu, and then select a stamp.
  3. Click the document page where you want to place the stamp, or drag a rectangle to define the size and placement of the stamp.

NOTE: If you haven’t provided a name in the Identity preferences, the Identity Setup dialog box prompts you to do so.

Below, I’ve applied the stamp.

05a_stamp_applied

Change a stamp’s location or appearance

I purposefully made the stamps included with this article small. When you apply the stamp, you can click and drag to scale it or do os later.

Below are the general instructions for using stamps. Using the Select tool or the Hand tool, you can do any of the following with the stamp selected:

  • To move a stamp, drag it to a new location.
  • To resize a stamp, click it, and then drag a corner handle.
  • To rotate a stamp, click it, move the pointer over the handle at the top of the stamp, and drag when the rotate stamp icon appears.
  • To delete a stamp, right-click the stamp and choose Delete.
  • To change the stamp’s opacity or the color of its pop-up note, right-click the stamp, and choose Properties. In the Appearance tab, set the opacity or color.

Creating a “Favorite” Stamp

If you regularly use a Stamp, you can add it to your favorites. It will then appear at the top of the stamp list.

  1. Using the Select tool or the Hand tool, select a stamp markup on the page.
  2. In the Annotations panel, click the Stamp tool and choose Add Current Stamp To Favorites.

 Repeatedly using the Same Stamp

Sometimes, you may want to use the circle stamp repeatedly. Use this trick to avoid having to reselect the tool

Right-click on the Stamp Tool and choose “Keep Tool Selected”:

06_keep_selected