Posts in Category "Acrobat How-to’s"

Old Dogs and New Tricks? A Key, Keyboard Command

This might very well be my shortest blog post ever. It’s also a chance to admit that I don’t know as much about Acrobat as I thought I did.

On my blog, I answer a lot of questions about how to put various navigation tools in the toolbar. I always advise putting the Previous View and Next View buttons on the toolbar. Right click on the toolbar, choose the Page Navigation section and add the buttons you want.

The Previous View and Next View buttons allow you to easily switch between pages you have visited in the PDF. They operate a lot like the Back and Forward buttons in a browser.

For example, let’s say you look at the something on page 9 of an eBrief and then click a link that goes to an exhibit on page 36.

Using the Previous View button, you can quickly jump back to page 9. Just press the Next View button to hop back out to page 36,

What? They cited that?

Doh! I can’t believe I didn’t know . . .

There is a keyboard command for both Previous View and Next View. Objectively, I suppose I knew they existed, but I’d never tried them:

Previous View
ALT-Left Arrow
OPT-Left Arrow
Next View
ALT-Right Arrow
OPT-Right Arrow

I find I’m using these keyboard commands all the time now. So, maybe you can teach an old dog a new trick.


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Get Reader or Acrobat to work in Chrome, Compact PDF Output from Chrome

Google Chrome is a browser that is growing in popularity. I’ve recently switched to Chrome, myself.

Chrome IconThere’s a lot to like about the Chrome browser:

  • Fast
  • Excellent bookmark handling
  • Protected Mode (sandboxed) for more secure browsing and prevention of phishing attacks
  • Built-in Google Sync to keep all your bookmarks synchronized across your computers

Chrome offers built-in basic PDF viewing and PDF conversion of web pages.

Nice as this sounds, Chrome can’t display every kind of PDF. When that happens, you’ll see this message

Chrome also lacks some of Reader (and Acrobat’s) navigational features such as Previous View and Next View.

Since Chrome is growing in popularity, of late I’ve received quite a few questions about PDF in Chrome:

  • How do I get Adobe Reader (or Acrobat) to work in Google Chrome?
  • How do I turn off the Chrome PDF viewer?
  • Why does Chrome make huge PDFs?
  • How do I get Chrome to print PDFs as text?

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

  1. Use Adobe Reader (or Acrobat) as the default PDF Viewer in Chrome
  2. How to create smaller, better quality PDFs from Chrome

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Turning off Read Mode while viewing PDFs in your Browser

This week, I had a couple of folks ask:

How do I turn off that weird bar that comes up while reading PDFs in the browser?
Can I turn off Read Mode when viewing PDFs in the browser?

These are the same questions and both refer to this floating toolbar visible when viewing PDFs in the browser:
Adobe Acrobat X Read Mode Toolbar

In this article I’ll explain:

  • What is Read Mode?
  • Why would I want to turn off Read Mode?
  • How to turn off Read Mode for an individual PDF
  • How to turn off Read Mode permanently via Preferences
  • How to turn off Read Mode when deploying Acrobat

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Download a PDF Copy of the Acrobat Help File

I recently received this note from a law firm:

I know that Adobe offers online HTML help, but I’d really like to get a PDF copy of the help? Is one available?

Short answers . . . Yes!

Downloading the Help File

Follow these steps to get a PDF copy of the Help file:

  1. Choose Help>Acrobat X Pro (or Standard) Help or press the F1 key
  2. The Help file will launch in your default web browser or possibly in the Community Help Viewer

    Click the View Help PDF link in the upper right corner of the window

  3. The Help PDF will open.
    Hover over the bottom of the window until the Heads Up Display (HUD) appears, then click the Floppy Disk icon on the HUD toolbar to save the PDF to a location of your choice.

Using the Help File

When you open the Help file, the Bookmarks panel will open automatically. You can browse through the bookmarks to open the section of your choice.

I also suggest you try using Advanced Search. Choose Edit>Advanced Search to open the Advanced Search window and enter the term of your choice.

Advanced Search lists all the "hits" within the document. For example, when I typed in PDF/A as my search term, here was the result . . . 67 hits!

Just click on any of the results to go directly to that page in the PDF and highlight the term.











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Quick Access to Frequently Used Stamps in Acrobat X

Acrobat allows you to use a number of stamps that "live" in the annotation layer of the document.

For example, you could quickly add a Confidential stamp to your document:

Picture of a PDF document with a Confidential stamp on it

Adding a stamp isn’t difficult in Acrobat X, but it is a few steps:

  1. Open the Comments panel
  2. Twirl open the Annotations section
  3. Click on the Stamp tool
  4. Choose a Stamp category
  5. Choose a Stamp
  6. Stamp it on your document

That isn’t hard, but it’s easy to reduce the number of steps. Here’s how . . .

Step 1: Add the Stamp to your Quick Tools bar

You can add your own favorite tools to the first row of tool icons in Acrobat.
Pictue of the Quick Tools area of Acrobat X

To add the Stamp tool to the Quick Tools area:

A) Open the Comments panel
B) Twirl open the Annotations section
C) Right-click on the Stamp tool and choose Add to Quick Tools

Picutre showing where to click to add the Stamp tool to the Quick Tools bar

The Stamp Tool is added to the toolbar:
Picture: The Stamp tool has been added to the toolbar

Step Two: Choose your Favorite Stamps

Acrobat allows you to easily access frequently used stamps without having to dig through sub-menus. Here’s how to "favorite" a stamp . . .

  1. Click the Stamp Tool and locate a stamp you like and stamp it on the document
  2. Click on the stamp on the page to select it.
    Hint: When selected, the stamp selection handles will be visible:
    Picture of a Confidential stamp which is selected
  3. Click on the Stamp tool menu and choose Add Current Stamp to Favorites
    Picture: Addiing the selected stamp to Favorites

Now, your favorite stamp is available to apply in two clicks:

Picture: The stamps menu now has the new favorite stamp

Bonus Tip 1: Use the Stamps Palette

The Stamps Palette is a floating, resizable window which offers a large preview of multiple stamps.

To open the Stamps Palette, simply go to your Stamp tool menu and choose Show Stamps Palette:Picture: Finding the Stamps Palette option in the Stamps menu

The Stamps Palette opens. Select a stamp and drag it onto your page:

Picture of the Acrobat X Stamps Palette

Bonus Tip 2: You can "favorite" from the Stamps Palette

Here’s another way to favorite a stamp . . . just right-click on it in the Stamps Palette:

Picture: Favoriting a stamp from the Stamps Palette

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Creating PDF for Digital Letterheads

Law firms often have corporate letterhead designed to reflect the professionalism of the firm.

It’s only natural, then, that firms want to create digital letterhead that retains the firms branding when creating PDF files.

I recently received an email from a law firm that complained about “fuzzy text” when they attempted to create their PDF letterhead. After a bit of digging, I determined that the firm had scanned their existing letterhead, placed it as an image in Word, then PDFd the file. The result, was poor quality, fuzzy text.

Bitmaps vs Vectors

In order to create good digital letterhead, you need to use the right kind of graphic format.

A bitmap image is composed of pixels, the small individual dots that make up an image. Bitmaps are resolution dependent meaning that their appearance varies depending on the type and resolution of the device on which they are displayed. Typical bitmap file formats are TIFF, JPEG, PNG, BMP and GIF. Because bitmap images do not scale well, they make a poor choice for your digital letterhead.

A vector image is mathematically defined and scales correctly to the device on which it is displayed such as a monitor or printer. Typical vector formats are EPS, WMF, and EMF. Vector graphics are a good choice for your digital letterhead.

Creating your Digital Letterhead Graphic

The best way to create your digital letterhead graphic is in a vector illustration program such as Adobe Illustrator.

However, since most legal professionals don’t have a copy of Illustrator laying around, I’ll show you how to create the letterhead graphic in PowerPoint.

The instructions below are for Office 2007 and 2010, but earlier versions will work just fine.

  1. Launch PowerPoint. A new, blank slide show should appear. If not, choose New and create one.
  2. You’ll insert a Text Box to type into:
    A) Click the Insert tab
    B) Click the Text Box tool
  3. Click and drag to draw a text box in a blank area of the slide.
  4. Type in your text and format it as you like. You can add borders, fills, and other text boxes if necessary.
    Getting the right Look for the Text Box
    Here are some links from the Microsoft website with some tutorials on using Text Boxes in PowerPoint:

    Change or remove a border from a text box or shape
    Add or delete a shape fill or shape effect


  5. Select the text box(es) on the slide (you might want to group them first), then right-click and choose Save As Picture

  6. From the Save As Type menu, choose Windows Metafile and save the file to a location of your choice.
    You might also want to save the PowerPoint file in case you want to make changes at a later time.

Using your Letterhead Graphic in Microsoft Word

It’s simple to use the WMF file you created above in Word.

You can use it in the body of the document or in the header or footer area.

To insert the image in Word:

  1. Open or create a new document in Word
  2. Click the Insert tab then click Picture (example here is inserting the picture in the header)
  3. Locate the letterhead graphic and insert it.

You’ll notice that the graphic looks nice on screen in Word.

Converting your Letterhead to PDF

Once your graphic is inserted, you can create a PDF by printing to the Adobe PDF Print Driver or by using the Adobe PDF Maker in Word.

The result looks great on-screen in Adobe Reader or Acrobat and also prints beautifully:

The Digital Letterhead as it looks in Acrobat.

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Code Obfuscation for Patent and Court Filings

If your firm does IP work for technology companies, or is involved in cases involving software source code, you may be obliged to submit your client’s source code to the USPTO, a court or third party.

Since source code is considered a trade secret, most regulatory agencies use a "50%" rule. Source code submitted is obscured so that it cannot be used as-is.

Picture showing obfuscated codeThis process, referred to as code obfuscation, protects your client from disclosure of their valuable software source code.

Curiously, some law firms use a paper-based process for this. One law firm I visited created a series of diagonal bars on transparency film, then photocopied thousands of pages.

As you can guess, that workflow was time-consuming and expensive.

Fortunately, the process is easy to automate in Acrobat X. Not only can we hide the code, we can completely delete the hidden code so it can never be recovered.

Step 1: Create a Code Mask

A Code Mask is an overlay on your document which hides the underlying text or images. The mask must have transparent areas where codes shows through and opaque areas which hide the text. You can create a mask using a graphics program like Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign.

Tip: Use a Vector Code Mask
Although you could use a bitmap image as a mask, I have found you get much better results using a vector illustration program. Instead of pixels in the PDF, the lines are drawn electronically which scales nicely to various page sizes.


You can download a sample Code Mask below.

sample_code_mask.pdf (37K) (letter size 8.5 by 11)

Step 2: Convert Source Code to PDF

If your client did not supply PDFs, you’ll need to convert the source code files. Most often, you’ll receive plain text files.

Check your court rules or eFiling guidelines to see if your court requires specific font sizes or margins. You can open the source code text file in a word processor and print to PDF.

Alternately, you can convert the text to PDF directly in Acrobat. Simply open the text file in Acrobat and— poof— you’ve got a PDF.

Want more control over text conversion in Acrobat?
You can change the Text conversion settings. Here’s how:

Choose File> Create> PDF from Web Page and click the Settings button

To change the font:
Adjust the File Type to Text and click the Settings button
to change the font used.
Click OK when done.

To change the page margins
Click the Page Layout tab in the Settings window and adjust the margins.

Step 3: Add the Code Mask to the document

You will use the Watermark feature to add the Code Mask to the document.

  1. Start watermarking . . .
    A) Click the Tools panel
    B) Open the Pages section
    C) Click the Watermark menu and choose Add Watermark
    Picture of Acrobat X Tools Panel
  2. The Watermark window opens.
    Here’s what to do:
    A) Click the Browse button and locate the Code Mask file. (You can use my sample above)
    B) Set the Scale relative to target page to 100%

    Picture of Acrobat X Watermark window
    C) Option: Click Save Settings . . . to save your setting so you can use it again later.
    Picture of Save Watermark window

  3. Click OK
  4. Open the Protection section of the Tools panel, and choose Sanitize Document.

    Picture of Acrobat X Sanitize panel

  5. The Sanitize alert opens. Click OK.
    Picture of Sanitize Warning window

    What does Sanitize Document do?
    Sanitize Document is a robust
    metadata removal function in Acrobat. Sanitize will rasterize the document turning it into an image so that the underlying code cannot be recovered. Functionally, it does in one step what Remove Hidden Information does with all options set to ON.

  6. Give the file a name and click the Save button.
    Picture of Save As window

Automate the Process using an Action

With an Action in Acrobat X, you can automate the process above across:

  • A file open in Acrobat
  • Any number of txt or PDF files you want to combine, then obfuscate
  • Multiple individual files
  • Grab an image from your scanner and obfuscate.

I’ve created an Acrobat X Action you can use to automate the process. This action:

  1. Asks you to locate the code files (can be PDF or TXT files)
  2. Asks you for the destination for the obfuscated files
  3. Obfuscates the code as shown with a watermark
  4. Sanitizes the document removing all code underneath the code mask
  5. Saves the file as an Acrobat 5 (PDF 1.4) level file
  6. Adds the suffix _obfuscated to the file name (e.g. mycode_obfuscated.pdf)

Because the watermark action requires a file local to your file system, you’ll need to tweak the Action a bit. Don’t worry, it’s easy! Here’s how:

  1. Download the Acrobat X Code Obfuscation Action (2K)
    Note: This file is stored on Click the download button after the page loads.
  2. Double click the Code Obfuscation Action.sequ downloaded in Step 1.
    Click the Import button to add it to your Actions panel.
    Picture of Import Action message
  3. The Edit Actions window appears.
    Make sure the Code Obfuscation Action is selected and click the Edit button.
  4. Click the Options button next to the Watermark step of the Action.
    Picture of Action Steps
  5. Acrobat won’t be able to find the Source code mask file, so you will see an error message. Click OK.
    Picture of Error Message.
  6. The Watermark Window appears. Click the Browse button and locate the watermark file, following the steps noted above in the Watermarking section.
  7. Click OK then Save the Action.

Tip: Save your code masks in a location that won’t change
Since the watermark function in Acrobat references a specific code mask file, if you rename it or change the location. you’ll get an error message. Save the file in a location and leave it alone . . .


Running the Action

Running the Code Obfuscation Action is simple!

  1. Open the Tools panel in Acrobat and then open the Actions Wizard section
  2. Click the Code Obfuscation Action
    Picture of running the Code Obfuscation action
  3. Click Add Files button and add the files you wish to process.

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Free Transcript Mark-up Script for Acrobat

Example of highlighting using scriptThe creativity of legal professionals using Acrobat never ceases to amaze me.

One area, in particular, that some of our geekier (and I mean that in the nicest way possible) customers have exploited in Acrobat is scripting.

Acrobat may be extended using JavaScript, a scripting language used in a variety of applications including web browsers.

Attorney Michael Tracy has developed a unique transcript mark-up utility which is is used to highlight, underline, and annotate deposition transcripts.

You can read an explanatory article and download the utility here:

Many thanks, Michael, for sharing this script with the rest of us!

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Download my Thirty Top Tricks for Acrobat 9

If you follow this blog, you already know that my colleague Mark Middleton and I offer eSeminars on various topics such as Security, Forms, etc.

I’ve rolled up the Thirty Top Tips for Acrobat 9 into a ten-page, illustrated document so you can try them on your own!

Download Rick’s Top Tricks for Acrobat 9 (354K)

If you read on, I’ll tell you how you can share the document with others.

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Creating a Click-thru Agreement in a PDF

A click-thru (sometimes called ClickWrap) agreement is a software or web-based acceptance of terms.

Click-thru agreements rely on the recipient clicking "OK" or "I agree" to accept the terms of the agreement.

Click thru example

I recently received this email message about Click-thru PDF agreements:

Is it possible to create a message that appears prior to a [PDF] document being opened to accept terms and conditions? If the user would click "Yes" the PDF would open. If the user click "No" the document would close.

Short answer: Yes!

Do Click-thru Agreements have Legal Precedent?

Yes, there are a number legal decisions on the subject.

The earliest reference I found was to ProCD v. Zeidenberg (text), which established that clicking a button in a software program constituted acceptance of terms.

A number of relevant court decisions may be found here: Click-Wrap Agreement – Internet Library of Law and Court Decisions.

In this article, I’ll show you how to create an alert message that pops up when a PDF is opened:

JavaScript Message Window for Click-thru agreement

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