Author Archive: Rick Borstein

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

Hosting a Shared Review: An Alternative to Acrobat.com

An Acrobat Shared Review allows multiple people, in real time, to add notes and comments on a PDF. In order to do so, you need a server or shared resources such as SharePoint or a network folder. Both of these are great solutions for behind the firewall reviews.

To see a short video of how Shared Review works, click here.

Occasionally, you may need to have an open review with multiple participants or collaborate with others across multiple domains. For these open reviews, many of our customers used our Acrobat.com service which made the process simple.

In January 2014, we announced that Workspaces on Acrobat.com will be retired in January 2015.  That means that Acrobat.com will longer be an option for hosting Shared Reviews. Fortunately, Acrobat supports the WebDav protocol, so that is a great replacement for open reviews which were the forte of Acrobat.com.

I recently purchased a yearly subscription to an inexpensive webdav service from SqueakSoft webdav service. No particular reason, but that came up first in Google and it is only $6 per year.

You can, of course, use webdav on other hosting providers and cloud services.

Here’s how to get started with the SqueakSoft service and getting it working in Acrobat.

Purchase SqueakSoft

Go to SqueakSoft webdav service, then click on the Order Now link.

000_plan

 

In the next screen, enter your desired WebDav username.

001_signup

Add the service to your cart and complete the transaction. You will be asked to create an account to manage access to the WebDav service and you will also need to create a password for your WebDav service.

It might take a few minutes or more for the service to be activated.

Configuring Acrobat to use the WebDav Service

  1. Open a PDF you want to review in Acrobat
  2. Open the Comments pane, then Send for Shared Review002_send_shared_review

     

  3. From the menu, choose: Automatically collect comments on my own internal server003_shared_setup_1
  4. Click the Next button
  5. In the next screen: Choose Web server folder
  6.  Type in: http://webdavhost.net/YOURWEBDAVUSERNAME/
    (replace the all caps text above with the username you created on the SqueakSoft service)004_webdave_usernameYou will be prompted for your WebDav username (name you chose in the Cart screen above) and WebDav password.
  7. Click the Next button
  8. Click the Next button TWICE
  9. Name the Server Location anything you want, e.g.: SqueakSoft Open WebDav005_name_server 
  10. Click the Next button
  11. Fill in the email address for the reviewer(s)006_reviewer_names

     

  12. Click the Send button
    This will send the Review-enabled PDF via your default email client to reviewers.

What happens on the server?

Acrobat will create a small review folder on the WebDav server which allows all clients to sync comments to it:

007_webdav_stuff

Note, in the workflow above, I am suggesting that you email the document to your recipient rather than upload it to the WebDav server. This way, the WebDav server is only used to store the comments, not the document itself. SqueakSoft offers a huge amount bandwidth for a very small amount of money. If you are only using the service to sync the comments (my recommendation), then you would have enough space to conduct many thousands and thousand of reviews.

Each comment is saved as an obfuscated XML file. Anyone who would try to view the comments in a web browser by typing in http://webdavhost.net/YOURWEBDAVUSERNAME/ would be prompted for a log-in.

What is the Shared Review experience like for the recipient?

As part of the process above, the review PDF is emailed to your recipient.

When they open the PDF, they will see a message like this:

008_connect_message

The recipient clicks the Connect button, and then is presented some information about the review such as the Review Deadline, review team, etc.:

009_review_team

The document will open and your recipient can and respond to comments made by everyone on the team.

A status bar at the top allows users to publish and retrieve comments which are synchronized to the PDF document in real time:

010_status_bar

How do I find out more about Shared Review?

Here’s two QuickStart Guides. Enjoy!

Comment in a PDF file with Adobe® Acrobat® XI
adobe-acrobat-xi-comment-in-a-pdf-file-tutorial_ue

Send a PDF file for shared review with Adobe® Acrobat® XI
adobe-acrobat-xi-send-pdf-for-shared-review-tutorial-ue

How to Erase and Clean-up a Scanned PDF in Acrobat XI

I recently received this email from one of my blog readers:

Does Adobe Acrobat have a feature similar to the eraser in the old MS Paint program to edit pdf documents? The feature does exist in ScanSoft Paperport  (I have version 11).  It is very useful to remove stray marks on scanned images, staple marks, fax headers, punched hole marks, etc. If used with extreme zoom, I can remove just about any marks on the page so it looks like new. However, it would be useful to have all the features in one program.  I prefer to use Adobe Acrobat to OCR, and otherwise manage PDF documents, but if they need editing I am forced to use ScanSoft Paperport.  Also, the file size seems to go way up after I edit the document with Paperport.

There are two ways you can clean up content in a PDF:

  1. Use the Redaction tools (Acrobat Pro only) and redact using the "No Color" option.
    See my Redaction Guide for instructions.
  2. Use the Edit Image option and an external editor to clean up the PDF

I’ve never written about the second option previously, so this seems like a good opportunity to do so!

Using an external image editor makes the most sense for image-based PDFs. However, Acrobat can also call a program to edit vector content, too.

Continue reading…

Real Time Transcripts, Collaboration and More

Adobe® Connect™ is Adobe’s web conferencing platform for web meetings, eLearning, and webinars. My guess is that most legal professionals have taken part in a web conference which allows for computer screen sharing and collaboration. Most large law firms have access to webinar services hosted by one of the major web conferencing platforms such as Adobe Connect, WebEx, Go to Meeting, etc.

One thing that distinguishes Adobe Connect from other web conferencing tools is that Adobe positions it as a development platform. This allows our partners to create some really interesting tools that run on top of the platform to meet the needs of vertical markets.

In fact, when I saw StreamText Legal’s new add-ins for Adobe Connect, I was blown away.

Continue reading…

How do I sign a PDF?

I recently received this inquiry from a customer:

I get a lot of estimates to be signed for production jobs. Currently most come to me as a PDF, but some are excel. It would be very efficient if I could somehow sign these electronically and send back to the agency and copy finance (Debbie) rather than the current process of printing, signing, faxing, and giving to Debbie. Is there a way to do this?

In the past, I’ve discussed a two-step process to stamp and flatten a PDF. See Create a Transparent Signature Stamp and Flatten the stamp with a free Action.

Although the process isn’t’ difficult, Reader XI and Acrobat XI have made the process much simpler using the new Sign panel:


Interestingly, the Sign panel can also be used to stamp a signature or add text onto just about any PDF, too.

Continue reading…

Eight Free Acrobat XI Actions for Legal Pros

Actions, a feature of Acrobat X and XI Pro, are a powerful way to standardize processes by automating routine, multistep tasks.

Actions may be extended via JavaScript so that operations not found in the program itself may be created. Thus, it is possible to deliver unique capabilities via an Action.

In the Acrobat X timeframe, I worked with our partner Windjack to produce a series of Actions that are useful for legal professionals. These Actions were made available on the Adobe Acrobat Actions Exchange.

I’ve updated the actions to work with Acrobat XI and am publishing both versions (X and XI) here for you.

Note:

  1. These Actions below are not published or supported by Adobe Systems Incorporated.
  2. Use these Action at your own risk. I suggest using a copy of your files until you understand how each Action works.
  3. I cannot customize these Actions for you. If you require customization, please contact Windjack.

Need to find out more about how Actions work?

To learn more about how to import and work with Acrobat XI Actions, click here.

Below, you can learn more about these free Actions and download them to try them yourself.

Enjoy!

Continue reading…

Acrobat/Reader 11.04 Update Fixed Signature Detection Issue

Yesterday, Adobe released Acrobat/Reader 11.04 which fixes the signature detection issue I reported in a previous post.

The update also includes improvements for Export to Excel and Word, enhances performance and fixes some bugs.

You can read the full release notes here.

Turning off the Annoying Signature Status Bar in Acrobat XI

UPDATE:  This issue was fixed in the the Acrobat/Reader XI 11.04 update.

With the 11.03 update to Reader XI and Acrobat XI, you might have noticed that documents sometimes open with a green signature status bar:

I find this status bar really annoying and so do many of you.

Unfortunately, there is a bug in the code which leads to a lot of false positives. Thus, you may be seeing the green bar more than you should. We are going to refine the feature and likely include a preference to turn it off in a forthcoming update.

In the meantime . . .

On a document by document basis, you can reclaim the space taken up by the green status bar.

Here’s how . . . just click on the Signature icon at the top left of the status bar:

After clicking, the status bar is removed:

FYI, all of the Status Bars work that way. Just click on the leftmost icon in the status bar to reclaim the space.

Continue reading…

Joel’s Portfolio Tools – Export Portfolio Data

My former colleague Joel Geraci is a PDF wizard.

Joel was at Adobe for several years in the role of PDF Developer Evangelist . . . he’s a technical guy that can solve just about any PDF problem.

In fact, he’s started a company called Practical PDF that can tackle all sorts of tricky PDF issues which require custom development and integration.

Export PDF Portfolio Listings to a Text File

For legal professionals who use Portfolios, one oft-heard request is for the ability to export the document list to a text file.

If that sounds like you, you’ll want to get a copy of Practical:PDF Portfolio Utilities. The price? Free!

While you’re checking out Joel’s website, try out the custom PDF Portfolio Navigators he’s developed.

Continue reading…

Straighten and Deskew PDF Pages in Acrobat XI

I recently received this email from a Michigan law firm:

Is there a straighten image tool for scanned images in Acrobat 11?  My scanner is getting older and sometimes pulls documents through with a tilt.

Acrobat deskews (straightens) pages during the OCR process, but what if you do not want to OCR the document?

Acrobat can apply various image processing functions using the Optimize Scanned PDF function such as deskewing, background removal, descreening and more.

In this article, I’ll show you how to:

  • Find and use Optimize Scanned PDF to deskew (straighten) pages in PDF documents
  • Offer a pre-configured Acrobat XI Action which you can use as is to straighten PDF pages

Continue reading…