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How Do I Use The Migrate Comments Command?

Another good question came through recently. It just happened to be a topic that I did not get a chance to cover at my “Review and Commenting” eSeminar for AcrobatUsers.com.

“What does the Migrate Comments command do, and how should I use the Migration status flags?”

Migrate Comments

If you only send out one draft version of a document for review before distributing the final version you are either a) brave or b) very very good. But I am sure you, like me, actually send two or more versions to others before finalizing the document. If your manager’s manager’s manager is as busy as mine, that might mean comments come back to you on a document after you have already sent out a new version. This newer version incorporates suggested changes from those who did get their comments back to you on time. So do you just ignore your manager’s manager’s managers feedback? That is probably not a good career move. Instead, you can migrate those late-arriving comments from an older version of the document in to the newer version using the “Migrate Comments” command.

But how does Acrobat know where to put those comments when you have already changed the document? It does so by looking at the text and structure of the document to determine where the comment or markup should go in the new version. This works best if the PDF documents are tagged, ideally created using something like PDFMaker for Microsoft Office and other applications, or when exporting to a Tagged PDF from Adobe InDesign.

The Acrobat 9 Help file describes best what happens to each comment type:

  • Text comments that reference particular words, such as highlights, cross-outs, and insertion carets, appear within the word grouping where they were originally placed.
  • Drawing markups and sticky notes appear in the same structural location as they did in the original document.
  • Circle, polygon, rectangle, and stamp comments always appear on the same page as the original document.

To use the command, first open the two versions of the document with the comments in them. Then go to the Comments menu and choose “Migrate Comments”


If Acrobat cannot find the words or structure in the newer document that a comment was associated with in the older one, it will just place it on the page as it appeared before, unless the page has been deleted in which case it gets placed on the last page (well it has to go somewhere!). Text edits are converted to sticky note comments.

Migration Status Flags

There are several properties that you can apply (or see but not apply) to annotations on PDF files: your login name, the time and date the annotation was applied, icon, color and so on.

One of those properties is a “Migration Status”. If you look at the Migrate Comments dialog box above, you will see that Acrobat gives you the option to “Review migrated comments in the Comments list”. This will set each of the migrated comments with a “Not confirmed” migration status flag, then show those only in the Comments Navigation Panel. You can then check each one out to see if they are still applicable, and if so, set their status to “Confirmed” from either the Comments Navigation Panel toolbar or by right-clicking the annotation.


These are really nothing more than flags: use them in the way that suits you best for your document review workflow. And they are there to make sure that your manager’s manager’s manager’s comments are all incorporated as quickly as possible, in case this time around she does look at the next version of the plan faster than usual.


    I am using Adobe to mark up ACAD drawings, I have a problem that if I receive a new rev of the drawing I cannot move the ‘mark ups’ form the old drawing to the new drawing. I have tried to ‘Copy & Paste’ and migration but the comment always invert. The comments always rotate with the drawing no matter what I try. Any suggestions?

      Are you creating the PDF files? Sounds like something odd with the co-ordinates in the PDF file and the orientation of the document. If you are creating the files, try a different method of PDF creation (open directly in Acrobat 9/X Pro; print to PDF printer; use PDFMaker in AutoCAD).

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