Search and Combine using PDF Packages

Attorneys take large amounts of information and winnow it down to get to the documents that matter.

What’s the best way to do that with Acrobat?

I received this email today from someone who stopped by the Adobe booth at LegalTech West:

I [ use Acrobat to ]OCR legal docs and then do a search of them to come up with a smaller target of documents, i.e search Dr. Smith and all docs with his name in it come up in the search. I would then like to (A) print just those docs and (B) create a new PDF of just those docs, but I cannot figure out how to do it. Is it possible?

I had to think about this one… Acrobat can’t do it automatically.

Read on to learn about a workaround that might work for you.

Search Results List

If you haven’t used Acrobat search before, ready my article on Full Text Search of PDF using Adobe Acrobat.

Acrobat 8 displays search results in a window:

Acrobat Search Results List

Unfortunately, Acrobat cannot export the list or use it to directly bridge to other document operations.

However, you can open all of the files in the list individually by double-clicking on them. From there, it is easy to combine, print and search through the subset of files.

Combining the Open Files

Here’s how to combine the open files in Acrobat 8:

  • Choose File—>Combine Files or click on the Combine button in the Acrobat toolbar:
    Combine Button
  • In the next screen, click the button for Add Open Files:
    Combine screenshot
  • The Open PDF Files window appears:
    List of Open files that may be added
  • Click the Add Files button.
  • The Combine window now includes all open files in Acrobat. Click the Next button.
    Combine window populated with files
  • Type of PDF—Single large document or PDF Package
    Merge to Single PDF or to PDF Package WindowFor most users, I’d suggest merging files into a PDF package. In a PDF Package, each document maintains its individuality, yet the package may be searched and printed as if it were one document.
    PDF Packages are very useful for email archiving. See my article Email Archiving with Acrobat 8: They’re Packages!

    Click the Create button.

  • Acrobat will combine the files.
    When complete, give the package a name.

PDF Package View Options

By default, Acrobat lists the PDFs contained in the package in the Side View below:
Package: Side View

Changing to Top View

The Top View, however, is a more useful way to work with legal document sets. Click on the Top View button to change the view to the one below:

Package: Top View

If you would like the PDF Package to always open in Top View, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Options button in the Package toolbar (see above)
  2. Choose Package Properties
  3. Change the Initial View to Top:
    Package Properties Window
  4. Click OK

To Print one, Some or all of the Documents in the PDF Package:

  • To print a single document:
    • Select it from the list and choose Print
  • To print multiple documents:
    • Select the documents you need using by using the Control key (Command key on Macintosh) to select discontinuously, or Shift key for a continuous selection
    • Choose File—>Print and choose one of the selections below:
      File Print options for Packages

Other Thoughts

PDF Packages can do much more than just collect a group of documents together. In following blog articles, I’ll discuss tell you how to:

  1. Search within a PDF Package
  2. Code and qualify documents
  3. Redact across a PDF Package

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