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

Where is the Optimize Scanned PDF option?

Optimize Scanned PDF is found in the Document Processing panel which is hidden by default. To access this feature, you will need to show this panel.

Here’s how:

  1. Open the PDF document you wish to straighten
  2. Click the flyout menu at the top of the Tools panel:
  3. Select Document Processing from the list of available panels:

Deskew and Straighten PDF using Optimize Scanned PDF

  1. Open the PDF you wish to straighten in case it is not already open.
  2. Open the Document Processing panel and then click on Optimize Scanned PDF:
  3. To straighten the image without OCRing or changing compression, do the following:
    A) Deselect “Apply Adaptive Compression”
    B) Deselect “Make Searchable (Apply OCR)”
    C) OPTIONAL: See below for Filter Section

    The Filter section allows you to apply other image cleanup functions such as background removal, etc. You can experiment with these settings which can be helpful in some circumstances.

A Pre-built Deskewing Action

The steps above aren’t difficult, but if you have a number of documents to deskew or just want to save yourself a few clicks, you can try the Acrobat XI Action I’ve built for you.

Deskew Scanned PDF.sequ (2K)

The above link will take you to In the upper right hand corner of the window is a download button:

Save the file to a location you can find easily such as your desktop.

To import the Action

  1. Choose Tools > Action Wizard > Manage Actions.
  2. In the Manage Actions dialog box, click Import.
  3. In the Open dialog box, specify the name and location of the action file to import. Action files have a .sequ extension.
  4. Click Open.

To run the Action

  1. Choose Tools > Action Wizard > Deskew Scanned PDF
  2. Under Files To Be Processed, click Add Files to select the files that you want to run the action on. You can run the action on individual files or an entire folder of files
  3. When all the files you want to process are listed, click Start.

7 Responses to Straighten and Deskew PDF Pages in Acrobat XI

  1. Chris Fitzpatrick says:

    I do not see the fly out option to bring the Document Processing Panel. I am using the latest Adobe Reader XI

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Adobe Reader cannot make changes to PDFs. You will need Acrobat Pro for that.

  2. Evan Guthrie says:

    That straighten function will be a big help going forward. Documents that I receive from other law firms and my own constantly are off center. Now I will not have to tilt my head. Thanks.

  3. Lorna says:

    I have tried following the above instructions & to download the tool.
    I am using Acrobat XI version 11.0.3 not reader version….
    I can not get either to work. Must I use the PRO version?
    When trying the optimize scanned pdf, I get an error message of “Page contains renderabe text”
    Not sure what it means, but the results are nil. I can download your tool, but can not see how to install it. I have no ACTION wizard….

  4. Janis says:

    I have Adobe Acrobat XI and have a problem with the Tools button not showing all the tools when I open a pdf that had been sent to me, or one just in my files. If I open the adobe program and use the open button, all the tools show up. The main tool I need is the Optimize Scanned PDF, as I am always needing to straighten documents. When I just click on a file and open it, the tools button on the right of the page shows only Export PDF Files, Create PDF Files and Send Files. How do I get all the tools to show up when I just click and open a pdf?