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August 24, 2009

Acrobat and Word for Commenting Part 2: Export PDF Comments Back to Word

In Part 1 of this article, I wrote about exporting comments in a Microsoft Word document to a PDF file with comments when using Acrobat PDFMaker. When converting Microsoft Office files to PDF documents it is important, possibly even critical, to preserve as much information from the source as possible, and to have the option to be selective about it: Acrobat PDFMaker can help you there.

But the really productive part is after you have received comments from others on a PDF version of the document, possibly via a Shared Review. That is the time you will want to apply – or integrate – the changes to the source Word document: you got it, Acrobat can help you out here too by exporting PDF comments from Acrobat back to Word.

[As I stated in Part 1, this method applies only to supported versions of Microsoft Word on Windows. Apologies to my Mac brothers and sisters.]

Before you get started, I suggest opening the PDF file with comments, going through the feedback and suggested changes from reviewers. This is so you ca determine what is exported to Word and then integrated for you [this is optional, but will save you some time later if you have a lot of suggested changes, some of which you know won’t be integrated]. You can do one or both of the following:

  1. Marking the valid ones with a checkmark by right-clicking the comments and choosing “Mark with Checkmark” or just clicking the checkbox to the left of the comments in the Comment List of the Comments Navigation Panel. Note that this checkmark won’t appear in the document when viewed by others. Otherwise…
  2. Right-click on a comment and choose “Set Status > Review” and either “Accepted” or “Rejected”. You can also do this from the Comments List. Others will see this status for the comment as part of the review.

With that done, let’s get to work…

Export PDF Comments From Acrobat to Word

To get started, choose Comments > Export Comments to Word… in Acrobat, or if you have the Comments list open, choose Export Comments to Word… from the Comments List Options button.

What this will do is launch Microsoft Word, if it isn’t open already, and now that you are there, open the “Import Comments from Adobe Acrobat” wizard [I know, I know, that’s not the exact title of this article, but it is the same thing really]. If you are already in Word, or have the original DOC/DOCX document open, you can also go to the Acrobat ribbon (or menu) and choose “Import Comments from Acrobat…” under “Acrobat Comments”.

If you haven’t been through this before, a screen of instructions will appear first: click OK to continue. You will then see one of three possible scenarios, depending on how you launched the wizard:

  • If you are coming from Acrobat in this step, the PDF file you had open before with all the comments will be shown under “Take comments from this PDF file:”.
  • If you launched the wizard from within Word and the source DOC/DOCX file was open, it will be listed under “Place comments in this Word file:”. By default, the wizard will look for a PDF file in the same folder and with the same file name, and if it finds it, lists that too. It’s assuming that PDF file is the one that has comments.
  • If you got to the wizard from Word with no file open, both fields will be blank.

Whatever gets listed there for files, you can change it by clicking on the “Browse…” button.


You can then choose what you would like to import to Word:

  • All Comments. This includes drawing markups such as polygons and callouts. If a comment or markup has a pop-up with text in it, then this will be made the text for the Word comment. The PDF comment or markup type, and the date that the comment was made, are also added to the Word comment text. For example, “Comment [08/21/09#3]:Highlight: The text from the pop-up.”
  • All Comments with Checkmarks.This will only include comments and markup that you checked off using Acrobat’s Comments List, for example.
  • Text Edits only: Insertions, Deletions and Replaces. This will just integrate the suggested changes to the Word document, and not just add the Text Edits as Word comments.
  • Custom Filters, for the comments you would like to include and apply. With this option you can be choosy about what is imported and applied to the Word document, including which authors comments you would like incorporated. For example, you can specify that only comments and markup that you have checked and accepted be imported by the wizard. Everything else will be ignored.

Finally for this part, as you can see from the previous image, you can also instruct the wizard to turn on Word’s Track Changes feature so you can see what gets changed once the wizard has completed its task.

Once you are back at the start of the wizard, the real fun begins when you click the “Continue” button.

First, the wizard will go ahead and import all the PDF comments into the Word document (unless you filtered them using the options I mentioned before). You should see them over on the right hand side of the pages, as expected with Word comments, pointing to the location where they were originally added to the PDF file. You will get the best results here if the Word document was converted to a PDF file using Acrobat PDFMaker and was tagged, but it still works otherwise. The wizard will then report back on how many comments were imported to Word, breaking it up by Text Edits and Other Comments:


If you thought that was cool, just wait for the next part…Integrate Text Edits is the next optional step (click Cancel to skip it), and it does just what it says on the tin. The wizard will go through the imported insertion, deletion or replacement Text Edits comments, and apply those changes for you. Acrobat is even doing your work for you now!

You can apply or discard them one-by-one by clicking on the appropriate button. You can then either click “Next”, or check the “Automatically go to next” option, and the wizard will jump to the next Text Edit comment and move the dialog and document so you can see the highlighted area to be changed. If you know you want to apply them all because you have already checked and/or accepted them in Acrobat beforehand, go ahead and click “Apply All Remaining”.


You don’t have to use what you see in the “New Text” field. As you can see in this example, a typo was missed in the original Text Edit comment: I don’t believe the author of this document really wants to extol the virtues of causing unwanted and annoying color changes to garments, but would rather mention the commitment to environmentally responsible practices [granted, I am the one who made the mistake]. Just go ahead and type in to that field what the text should be, and that is what the wizard will use.

Once all the changes have been applied, the wizard wraps things up by giving you a final report on the text integrations it made, with a couple of tips for cleaning things up in your Word document via the Acrobat ribbon/menu, including merging tracked changes and deleting comment bubbles.


Now think back to what you just read or tried yourself, and how you would have gotten to that same result before. If you were lucky to have two monitors, you may have the PDF and DOC/DOCX files open side-by-side and visually scanned from comment to comment applying those changes as you saw fit. If you had only one monitor, it was either a) very large or b) you are beginning to wear out your Alt and Tab keys on your keyboard. You may also have printed out the PDF document with comments, or the Comments Summary from Acrobat, and visually scanned that for changes to make [not very (su)stainable]. Either way, it was a process that was certainly slower than using Acrobat’s Export(Import) Comments command, and probably had a greater risk of introducing errors or missing important changes.

Give this real time-saver a try and see how it works out for you. Remember, for best results use a PDF document that was created from the same Word document using Acrobat PDFMaker – no refrigeration after opening required.

May 28, 2009

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

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

Continue reading “How Do I Use The Migrate Comments Command?” »

April 03, 2009

Using Microsoft SharePoint with Acrobat Shared Reviews

When you think of Microsoft SharePoint, you might typically think of collaboration in the context of document management, wikis, blogs, status updates, team calendars, and so on. Well, what about document reviews? Yes, you collaborate using documents too. Rather then me explaining it all here, I have created a couple of tutorial videos and posted them on the Acrobat channel on Adobe TV and the tutorials section of You can also watch them below…

The first one will show you how to initiate a shared review with Acrobat 9 that uses a SharePoint document library as the review location.

The second video shows a few things for SharePoint administrators to consider when setting up a workspace for the purposes of a shared review with Acrobat.

I would feel guilty if I didn’t mention Omtool Swiftwriter, a free plug-in that allows both Acrobat and Adobe Reader to open and save PDF files to SharePoint and other document management systems. You can find out more from their website.

Finally, if you are using SharePoint today, especially with Acrobat and Adobe Reader, the product management team would love to hear from you. Check this Shredding the Document article for more details. Otherwise, feel free to post a comment here about how you are using Acrobat with SharePoint, or what you would like to see.

February 15, 2009

Acrobat 9 Deployment and Collaboration Settings

Technical Evangelist Joel Geraci recently posted an article, video and a “kit” for Acrobat 9 deployment. He has included the Adobe Customization Wizard 9, which allows IT managers to set default configurations for both Acrobat 9 and Adobe Reader 9 on Windows prior to deployment, including document collaboration settings.

Continue reading “Acrobat 9 Deployment and Collaboration Settings” »

January 26, 2009

Modifying Shared Review Locations

I was recently asked by someone “How do I change the settings for an existing Shared Review location? The server folder I use for collecting comments has changed.” This is fairly straightforward to do…

Continue reading “Modifying Shared Review Locations” »

November 07, 2008

How Do I Stop Acrobat 9 Checking for Comments?

The Review Tracker is your friend. It keeps an eye on the reviews (and forms) you have either sent out or received so that you can carry on doing your day job. But because it does this in the background, there may be times when it (or the Finder or Windows Explorer) prompts you to log in to a server that you are no longer connected to. There is one way to stop that from happening.

Continue reading “How Do I Stop Acrobat 9 Checking for Comments?” »

July 21, 2008

“A shortcut is the longest distance between two points.”

Or so someone once said. Another person also said that “there are no shortcuts to Life’s greatest achievements.” Well, getting everyone’s feedback on time and easily so I can achieve my writing goals and deadlines is an achievement for me, and I use some shortcuts – of the keyboarding kind, that is. Here are some you can use right away with the commenting tools in Acrobat or Reader (when the document is enabled for commenting).

Continue reading ““A shortcut is the longest distance between two points.”” »

June 18, 2008

Shared Reviews: Up In The Cloud

Shared Reviews introduced in Acrobat 8 are invaluable for those who need to get feedback on documents from others that are not part of their company or organization. As the document is enabled for commenting in the free Adobe Reader, you won’t have to take out a second mortgage to buy everyone you need to work with a copy of Acrobat 8, just for the purposes of the review of a single document.

However, if you were working with external reviewers in a Shared Review in Acrobat 8, a WebDAV server was typically required as the repository for collecting those comments from others (the other option is to use a Network Folder, but those aren’t typically made available outside the firewall). For many small business or workgroups, setting up a WebDAV server may not be a viable option – you have a day job to worry about, or the servers are looked after by others in a different location.

Well, Acrobat 9 addresses that particular problem, especially for those who don’t have an IT resource that is just a phone call or stones throw away: Acrobat 9 can now use servers as the repository to collect comments for Shared Reviews.

To use it in Acrobat 9 is straightforward. Just initiate a Shared Review as you normally would from the Comments taskbar button or menu, but in the Send for Shared Review wizard choose “…with” as the location to collect comments from reviewers.

Initiating a Shared Review selecting

Once you’ve signed in with your free Adobe ID, you can just tell Acrobat 9 who you want to invite, what the deadline for the review is, and Acrobat 9 takes care of uploading the PDF document securely to your Share library on for others to access. Your reviewers will get a link to download the document via an email from

The email that reviewers will receive

From then on it works just like any other Shared Review. But there is one additional benefit…because you are using, you can also turn on Page View Sharing (aka Send and Collaborate Live). Now you can also see who else is reviewing the document whilst seeing the comments they add, as well as the view of the page. Rad!

Page view sharing as part of a Shared Review

It’s important to note that using for Shared Reviews only works with Acrobat 9. If you have initiated the Shared Review with from Acrobat 9 Pro or Acrobat 9 Pro Extended, the document will also be enabled for commenting in the free Adobe Reader – again, version 9 only in this case.

Now those of you in small businesses, or working from home, or in a department without technical resources, can scratch off “IT Manager” from the list of tasks you have to do in addition to your regular day job. Unfortunately, we can’t help with the plumbing problems you have.

June 09, 2008

Commenting on Video: Your camera will still add 10 pounds of weight though

So, here’s the next area of Acrobat 9’s new collaboration features I’m really excited about…the ability to comment directly on video. But it’s more than just adding a sticky note to an embedded video clip…

Acrobat 9 will tie the comment or markup you add to the video to a frame and write the timecode in to the text pop-up.

Screen shot of commenting on an embedded video in Acrobat 9

Then, you click on a comment in the Comments pane at the bottom of the document window and jump back to that particular frame. To see it in action, click here to view a video tutorial.

Here’s why I am excited about this capability…

  1. You can use the same tools and methodologies you use already for text and images in a PDF document – no additional training required.
  2. You can enable the PDF for comment, markup and analysis in Acrobat 9 Pro and Acrobat 9 Pro Extended, and Reader 9 users can give their feedback on the video too.
  3. You can do exactly the same thing with embedded Flash content and essentially any video clip (that you have the rights to share).
  4. You can embed the video with other content – or a bunch of videos in a single file – and make all of it part of a Shared Review, say, as well as secure it to prevent changes or control access.

A few things to keep in mind though. For the Adobe Premiere Pro users reading this right now, this is not the same thing as Clip Notes. That is specifically for Premiere Pro-based workflows. The other important thing is that this is for Acrobat 9 and Reader 9 only, as it uses the new Rich Media Annotation type for embedded video and Flash.

var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);
document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”));

var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-3983211-1”);

June 04, 2008

Synchronized Document Views: Look ma! No hands!

Feedback can never come fast enough, can it? We live in an age where we are overwhelmed with information, yet we still need more of it NOW! If you are that kind of person – whether you want to be or not – then Acrobat 9 has a capability for you: synchronized document views aka page view sharing. It’s a capability we are so excited about, we just had to call it by more than one name. 😉

Until you try this for yourself, the only way to really understand it is to see it in a real-world scenario.

Here’s a possible one…let’s say I’m an architect for a new office building. The project manager at my client’s location calls me, and leaves me a voicemail saying “Hey! We have a problem with the plans. Call me when you get this.” We’ve all received those messages before, right? So, you start leaving voicemails or sending emails to each other, never really understanding what the problem is or what to do about it. So frustrating. So unproductive. So 2007.

What I really want to do is to have my customer show me exactly where in the floor plan they have a problem, as if they were standing next to me moving my mouse, rubbing my back (this architect is very close to his clients). Only problem is they are on the other side of the country, and I have a meeting in 15 minutes with Mr. Trump about a major construction project. How can we control the view we have of the document right in Acrobat 9 or Reader 9 without having to go into an online or real meeting room, so I can find out where to make the change quickly and accurately?

This is where synchronized document views comes in. It literally allows you to share your view of a PDF document with up to 2 other friends at the same time. You are actually controlling the view of the PDF file in their installation of Acrobat 9 or Reader 9 (yes, Reader 9 users can participate too).

Here is one way you can get to the command…from the new Collaborate taskbar button in Acrobat 9…


Watch this video to see how it works in action…

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • It uses In case you missed the news, is a set of online hosted services from Adobe for sharing and collaboration. It’s currently free (and a public beta), but page view sharing uses’s servers to handle the communication between clients. uses HTTPS and SSL, and the review initiator can control who can download the PDF document. But it is the only server you can use today for synchronized document views.
  • You need an Adobe ID to initiate. An Adobe ID is a way to authenticate yourself with to enabled a document for Page View Sharing in Acrobat 9. If you don’t have one yet, you can get one right from within Acrobat 9 or Reader 9: it’s free, you sign up once, and the only information you need to provide includes your name, an email address, your password and the country you reside in. However, you do not need an Adobe ID to participate in page view sharing – you can just sign in as a guest.
  • You need Acrobat 9 to initiate. But you can participate in page view sharing using only Reader 9. It’s not available in previous versions of either application. But you’ll upgrade, right?!
  • It works with 3D content. It’s all about views. So if one of the participants changes the view of a 3D object in the PDF file, the others see the same 3D view. The implications for the manufacturing and AEC industry are huge for when it comes to rapid collaboration on documents.
  • Only three participants at a time. Keep this in mind when distributing your collaboration-enabled documents. Just you and two friends. What you show your friends is up to you…
  • It’s only for PDF documents in Acrobat 9 or Reader 9. This is not screen sharing. But if you need to share other application views, you can also the select the “Share My Screen…” from the new Collaborate Live panel, or from the Collaborate Taskbar button. This will open your free ConnectNow beta meeting room on, and invite those two friends to join you in a desktop/application screen sharing session.

Which might bring up a good question…why not just use the screen sharing option that’s available? It’s a good discussion point, but one reason is that anyone who is participating in page view sharing can quickly and with minimal fuss share the view of the PDF file they have with others. It’s a conversation where everyone has a say and can contribute.

I think they call that collaboration, don’t they?!

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