Batch Printing an Email Portfolio

Acrobat X includes an email archiving feature (see video for demo) which allows you to convert an entire folder of email into a single, searchable PDF, complete with attachments. I previously wrote about this featue in my post "Creating Email Portfolios for Small EDD Productions".

Acrobat X behaves a bit differently than previous versions of Acrobat as one of my customers found out:

One of my users is working with an email portfolio file. They open the file and want to be able to print selective content.  When they select the pages to print and go into the Print window they do not see the All PDF files or Selected PDF files. See below:

Picture of Print Window which does not allow for batch printing

In Acrobat X, you can selectively print the current file in the file preview window. That’s a new feature, but the result is that batch and selective printing is harder to do.

In this article, I’ve got solutions for both and also a bonus solution I bet nobody thought of yet.


How to use Acrobat X to Batch Print all Files in an Email Portfolio

The trick to batch printing an email portfolio in Acrobat X is to make sure that no files are selected in the preview area. That forces Acrobat to go into batch printing mode.

  1. Open an email portfolio
    A) Drag the scroll bar all the way to the bottom
    B) Drag the window splitter handle down so you can see an empty line in the list
    C) Click in the blank line
    Picture of email portfolio showing where to click to arrange window
  2. Choose File>Print
    - The All PDF files option is now available
    Picture of print window after making adjustments

How to selectively print some of the files in an Email Portfolio

In order to selectively print files in an email portfolio, you have to expand the file list so that the preview window is no longer showing. From there, you can select the files you want and print them in one operation.

  1. Open an email portfolio
    – Drag the window splitter handle all the way to the bottom of the window
    Picture showing how to drag the window splitter
  2. Select the files needed
    - You can hold down the CTRL key to select the messages you want to print, or Shift to select a range
  3. Choose File> Print
    - The Selected PDF files option is now available
    Picture of Print Window now showing selected files available for printing

Another way to Batch Print: Convert the Portfolio to a Binder

A portfolio is a single PDF document which in turn contains other documents. A PDF Binder is more traditional; it is a single PDF document with multiple pages. The effect is to digitally staple multiple files together.

Of course, once all the pages are in a single PDF document, then printing is a breeze and adding and deleting other content is much easier.

Here’s how to convert a PDF Portfolio to a binder:

  1. Close the Portfolio and any other PDFs that may be open
  2. Click the Create button, then choose "Combine Files into a Single PDF . . ."
    Combine button
  3. In the Combine Window, click the Add Files button.
    - Browse to your email portfolio and click the Open button
    Adding files with Combine window
  4. The Combine window is now populated with all of the messages from the email archive.
    - Click the Combine button to create the PDF binder
    Combine window listing files
    NOTE: Files are always listed in alphabetical order. You can rearrange them by dragging them.

Attachments Panel IconWhere are the attachments?

The process creates a single, multi-page PDF document that also contains the attachments from the individual email messages.

This process does not convert the attachments to the original messages to PDF, but you can extract them from the binder and do that manually.

  1. To view the Attachments, click the Paper Clip icon on the left side of the screen.
  2. To extract Attachments:
    - Select some or all of the attachments
    - Click the Save Attachments button
    Picture of Attachements Panel with list of attachements

23 Responses to Batch Printing an Email Portfolio

  1. Mark Miller says:

    Your last comment above…”This process does not convert the attachments to the original messages to PDF, but you can extract them from the binder and do that manually” is the killer. If it would/could do that, mass bates numbering of a folder would be a breeze. As it is now we are forced to us alternative programs to process email files/folders.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      The email archiving feature wasn’t designed as an EDD tool. A good solution is Evermap’s AutoPortfolio. See: http://evermap.com/autoportfolio.asp

      • travis says:

        EDD = Electronic Document Delivery

        It is rather frustrating that we have to spend so much money on adobe pro then spend an additional $199 for Evermap’s AutoPortfolio. Surely there is a cheaper option?

        It is disappointing that Mark Miller did not include the name of this alternative program.

        I LOVE this article. EXTREMELY well written with screenshots! You would think that Adobe would have screenshots in most of their tutorials but they don’t.

        • Rick Borstein says:

          Let me say this again — we did not design Acrobat to be an EDD product. Given that most EDD products are thousands of dollars, $199 for AutoPortfolio from evermap.com is cheap!

          • Mitchell says:

            Ok, it isn’t designed as an EDD product. Would it be too much to ask that Acrobat provide users with options to convert attachments into pdfs, and an option as to whether to embed the attachments or to convert to pdf and append them to the parent pdf? Put differently — why does Adobe insist that attachments be (i) embedded; and (ii) in their native format? This isn’t just an EDD issue.

          • Rick Borstein says:

            I hear you, but we don’t think we can do that and provide a good experience in the process. Since email archives can be up to 10,000 messages, adding the burden of converting attachments could result in serious performance issues. We suggest you look at http://www.evermap.com and check out their auto-portfolio product.

  2. Bill Onwusah says:

    Does the Binder functionality allow me to select and print a single email and its attachments together? If, so, what order are the attachments printed in?

  3. John says:

    You may be able to save my life!. I have a group of hearing impaired law students working on a college project. They came to me because my son is in the group and they decided I know software and since I print all photo books from printable pdfs, I must be an expert. Sadly, no. Here is the assignment. They have an outlook 2010 file that has roughly 40,000 emails that need to be converted to adobe pro x pdf files. Singly. They can’t produce them as a portfolio. They have to be one email becomes one .pdf file. So, I was really interested in this solution and made a test file of 17 files. It worked, except one has to sit in front of the computer and say print to each conversion. That is impractical. I called a couple lawyers and they seem clueless so I imagine paralegals or IT people are producing this type of discovery. I was made aware of this posting by Molly and she suggested I write you. There is a rumor that there is some java script to solve this problem and I would think an action is possible but beyond my abilities. Can you offer help? Or can you direct me to some? They are college kids with big loans so I don’t want to charge anything. I worked on databases with them and they are quick to learn so I really want to help. Thanks, in advance, for whatever help you might offer. Would it make more sense to make tiffs and use ocr for searching compatibility. I know, I’m out of my league but it seems God’s work. At my age you think like that. Best, John

  4. Dave says:

    I have similar forms that, when combined, bring up an alert stating that any fields that have the same name will be merged. The result is that, for example, the entry in the field “Name” changes to the name in the first document in the porfolio for all the documents that follow. I wish to be able to print all of the forms together as one stapled document with all the info unchanged.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      You can bring them into a Portfolio and print from there or you could flatten the forms, then merge and print them.

  5. Kelly says:

    I was on the verge of a breakdown. This saved me. Thank you.

  6. Neat tip, Rick! Gracias. Will pass it along.

  7. travis says:

    Abobe portfolio does not allow you too see all of the attachements at once? I highlight all of the converted 120 outlook messages, and press the paperclip and of 15 emails with attachments, I see only one attachment.

    Is there anyway to convert an email folder with hundreds of emails and attachements into ONE single pdf to print?

    Again, Mr. Borstien, this tutorial is the best I have ever seen on Adobe’s site.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      In Outlook on Windows, choose the Selected Folder option from the Acrobat ribbon or toolbar.

  8. Jeff Brown says:

    I was hoping to be able to watermark some, but not all, of the documents in a PDF portfolio before printing them out. Is that possible, or would I have to convert the portfolio to a binder first?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      You can run pretty much any operation on a Portfolio. Just open the document from within the Portfolio, watermark it, and save it.

  9. Mike says:

    Hi Rick, GREAT articles! Thank you!
    I need to Bates number a Portfolio of emails (with attachments) in oldest to newest order. When I try to do this in Acrobat X it processes my emails in the reverse order and the attachments aren’t Bates numbered. Any ideas?
    (In one of your articles you say: “Unfortunately, Acrobat can only sort by File Name in this window. A workaround is to Bates Number the emails in Portfolio in date order before conversion” referencing your article from November 1, 2009.)
    Thanks!

  10. Kyre Stucklin says:

    Rick, the portfolio as is is a disaster for law firms for a variety of reasons. I think that someday a better version of this will be helpful, but as it sits, it’s creating nothing but havoc. I have a laundry list of problems. But today I will focus on just one:

    I am exporting the PDFs out of the portfolio, however, because email often have duplicative file names, all PDFs do not export out. They ‘collide’ leading to a prompt that says ‘there is already a file with that name, would you like to overwrite?’. The result is either 1) overwrite or 2) does not extract.

    Thoughts? Help?

  11. spud feratu says:

    OK, let me get this straight: In order to print selected PDFs from within a portfolio, I have to close the preview window, because only then the “Print Range: All PDF Files / Selected PDF Files” choice will appear in the Print dialog window??!?!

    Wow — this is going to be fun explaining to frustrated users. Is this poor interface design or a bug?