Converting Color PDF to Greyscale PDF (An Update)

Converting Color PDFs to Grayscale or Black and White in Acrobat 9

It’s rare to find color printers or copiers widely deployed in law firms. When color documents appear in discovery, firms don’t always know what to do with them. Examples include PPT files, images scanned in full color, etc.

Converting a color slide to a grayscale slide

Acrobat files can contain color and non-color elements:

  • RGB: Red, Green, Blue color
  • CMYK: Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black
  • Greyscale: Shades of gray ranging from 0 (white) to to 256 (black) in value
  • Monochrome: Black and White

RGB or CMYK image-only PDFs, in particular, can be quite large. Converting these PDFs to grayscale or black can reduce the size of the file and speed printing.

Other times, litigation support departments will have to satisfy the odd attorney who prefers to read grayscale documents.

Whatever the reason, it is fairly easy to convert RGB or CMYK PDFs to Greyscale. It’s a bit more difficult to convert to monochrome, but I’ve included a workaround for that, too.

You’ll need Acrobat Pro to make this work for you . . .


Converting PDFs from Color to Grayscale

To convert an RGB PDF to Grayscale

  1. Open a color PDF.
  2. Choose Advanced—> Preflight in Acrobat 9 Pro
    In Acrobat X Pro, choose the Print Production panel, then choose Preflight
  3. Twirl open the PDF Fixups area

    Preflight window

  4. In the Preflight window
    A) Choose the Convert to grayscale fixup
    B) Click the Analyze and Fix button

    Choose the grayscale conversion option

  5. Acrobat will ask you to name the file and allow you to choose a location to save it.

Converting many Color PDFs to Grayscale using a Preflight Droplet

A preflight droplet is an intelligent icon you can drag and drop files to for conversion.

Follow these steps to create a Preflight droplet:

  1. Choose Advanced—> Preflight
  2. Twirl open the PDF Fixups area and select Convert to Grayscale
  3. Locate the Options button:

    Find the options button

  4. Click on the Options button and choose Create New Preflight Droplet

    Create preflight droplet option

  5. The Droplet Setup window appears. You can adjust many options:

    Droplet Setup window
    A) Choose a folder where you wish to place converted PDFs
    B) Choose a folder for any PDFs which do not convert

    Note: There are many other options here for reporting.
  6. Click the Save . . . button and save the droplet file to your desktop. It looks like this:

    Droplet Icon

Using the Convert to Grayscale Preflight Droplet

To use the droplet, you need to drag and drop files onto it.

Select the files you wish to convert and drag them on top of the preflight droplet:

Drag and drop the files to convert them

Note: Preflight droplets cannot process folders. You can use Batch Processing to convert entire folders (and subfolders) to grayscale. Choose Advanced—> Document Processing—> Batch Processing . . .

One of the Batch commands available is Preflight.

Converting to Monochrome

Unfortunately, Acrobat cannot convert documents to monochrome directly. The workaround is to convert to monochrome TIFF and then re-convert to Acrobat.

This process works well for image-only color PDFs. PDF Normal documents— containing vector fonts and text— will no longer be searchable unless OCR is performed after conversion.

To convert a PDF to Monochrome TIFF

  1. Choose File—> Export—> Image —> TIFF
  2. Click the Settings button
  3. Set as below:

    Save As TIFF options window

Acrobat will convert each page to an individual TIFF file numbered sequentially:

List of files

To recombine the files:

  1. Click the Combine button in the Acrobat toolbar and choose Merge Files into a single PDF . . .

    Merge files button

  2. The Combine Files window opens. Click the Add Files . . . button at the top of the window.

    Combine files window

  3. Locate the file or folder of files you wish to combine.
  4. Click the Combine files button.

One Response to Converting Color PDF to Greyscale PDF (An Update)

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