Search Results for "flatten"

Flatten Form Fields and Comment using a FREE Acrobat X Action

Flattening is the process of moving editable information— form field data and comments— into the main document layer so that it cannot be edited or changed.

At left, below is an illustration of editable form and comments elements. After flattening (right), the appearance of the elements remains, but they are no lonager editable.

Flattening Illustration

Many folks simply print the document to the Adobe PDF print driver to flatten a document. However, that process takes several steps and eliminates bookmarks and other information.

Why would I need to Flatten a document?

Here are a few reasons that you might want to flatten a document:

  • To ensure that comments are printed
  • To prevent someone from changing the text inside a PDF form
  • To lock your stamp on the document

To make the flattening process easier, you can use a FREE Acrobat X Action to flatten your document.

Acrobat X Flatten Action

The Acrobat X File Name Stamper Action automates the process of flattening the document. Just open your Actions Panel and click!

How do I get the Acrobat X Action?

You can get the  Action over on the Actions Exchange on,

Alternately, you can download it direct below.

The PDF document you download below includes:

  1. Installation and use instructions
  2. Action (embedded in the PDF)


Flatten_Doc.pdf (753K)


Right-click and Choose Save Target As . . . to save to your desktop

You will need Acrobat X Pro to run the Action

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Add a Flatten Document Menu Item to Acrobat

NOTE: This older article only pertains to Acrobat 9. Use an Action to Flatten documents with Acrobat X or XI.

I recently did a Digital Signatures eSeminar (you can watch the recording here), and one of the top questions asked was:

How do I flatten a PDF document so my signature stamp cannot be easily removed?

In previous articles (1, 2) I’ve discussed how to scan in your signature and create a stamp which you can use to “sign” documents.

Molly Brown signature annotation

Once you place the signature on your document, it appears as an annotation in a layer on top of the base document.

This allows you to move or delete the stamp.

However, the recipient of your file can also move or delete your stamp, or print without your stamp showing.

That is worrisome . . .

The solution is to flatten the document before sending it out.

Flattening means to move the stamp information to the main document layer so it will always print and cannot be selected and deleted easily.

Many folks simply print the document to the AdobePDF print driver. However, that process takes several steps.

In this article I’ll show you how to download and install a free script that adds two menu items to Acrobat:

New Flatten Menu option added by the script

Works for Forms, too! The solution here also covers the ability to flatten form fields so that the content cannot be changed.

Read on to learn how to:

  • Download the free Flatten Pages script
  • Install the Script
  • Use the Flatten Pages feature
  • Issues and Caveats
  • Electronic vs Digital Signatures

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Acrobat DC ends the dreaded “Renderable Text” Error for Scanned Docs

Acrobat (XI and earlier) sometimes confounded legal professionals during the scanning and OCR process with “renderable text” errors.

In older versions of Acrobat, if vector text was found outside of the page boundaries, Acrobat would refuse to OCR the document. Here’s the error message you would typically see:


Over the years, I found a variety of odd PDFs from fax systems or other systems that would add vector text or graphics in odd places on the page which would cause errors. At one time, I even helped a small law firm discover that the other side had deliberately embedded vector text to prevent OCR. Ah, the games that get played in discovery, but, I digress . . .

Adobe implemented a partial resolution and I wrote about the fix for the issue in Acrobat 8. This specific fix resolved the problem as long as the renderable vector elements were found within 20% of the page boundaries. However, we still found users that ran into this issue, especially with federal court files which contained vector stamps which sometimes were placed right in the middle of the page.

The good news is that Acrobat DC is can segment image layers from text layers in existing PDFs and OCR the image layer only.

To test this, I created a text comment on top of a scanned PDF, then flattened the file. Note that the text I placed is directly in the middle of the page (see below).

OCRs Just Fine!

Acrobat OCRd the scanned image layer and the document is completely searchable.

You won’t find this listed among the Acrobat DC new features, but here’s to progress.

Well, uh, it’s almost gone . . .

You might still run into the Renderable Text error if you try to OCR a document which is completely vector-based (an electronic PDF if you will).

An example of a document that will still trigger the error when you try to OCR is a text-only document created in Word and directly output to PDF.

From time to time, a customer will send me a PDF which generates the error. I often discover that the document isn’t a scanned document at all. In that case, you don’t need to OCR the document because all the text is already searchable.


How do I sign a PDF?

I recently received this inquiry from a customer:

I get a lot of estimates to be signed for production jobs. Currently most come to me as a PDF, but some are excel. It would be very efficient if I could somehow sign these electronically and send back to the agency and copy finance (Debbie) rather than the current process of printing, signing, faxing, and giving to Debbie. Is there a way to do this?

In the past, I’ve discussed a two-step process to stamp and flatten a PDF. See Create a Transparent Signature Stamp and Flatten the stamp with a free Action.

Although the process isn’t’ difficult, Reader XI and Acrobat XI have made the process much simpler using the new Sign panel:

Interestingly, the Sign panel can also be used to stamp a signature or add text onto just about any PDF, too.

Continue reading…

Eight Free Acrobat XI Actions for Legal Pros

Actions, a feature of Acrobat X and XI Pro, are a powerful way to standardize processes by automating routine, multistep tasks.

Actions may be extended via JavaScript so that operations not found in the program itself may be created. Thus, it is possible to deliver unique capabilities via an Action.

In the Acrobat X timeframe, I worked with our partner Windjack to produce a series of Actions that are useful for legal professionals. These Actions were made available on the Adobe Acrobat Actions Exchange.

I’ve updated the actions to work with Acrobat XI and am publishing both versions (X and XI) here for you.


  1. These Actions below are not published or supported by Adobe Systems Incorporated.
  2. Use these Action at your own risk. I suggest using a copy of your files until you understand how each Action works.
  3. I cannot customize these Actions for you. If you require customization, please contact Windjack.

Need to find out more about how Actions work?

To learn more about how to import and work with Acrobat XI Actions, click here.

Below, you can learn more about these free Actions and download them to try them yourself.


Continue reading…

Customizing the Acrobat XI Interface

Our research at Adobe tells us that legal professionals use many Acrobat tools, but probably not all of them.

In the interest of simplification, you may wish to hide the tools you don’t use and and provide direct access to the tools you use the most.

I suspect that the majority of Acrobat users never change the default user interface.If you want Acrobat to work better for you, it behooves you to learn how.

For the record, I don’t use the term behoove lightly!

What is that thingy called?

Before jumping into this, let’s take a look at the Acrobat application window.

The following two screen captures represent the official terminology that we use at Adobe for various parts of the Acrobat user interface:

A. Menu bar B. Toolbars C. Navigation pane
(Bookmarks panel displayed)
D. Document pane E. Task panes  


The top toolbar may also be customized and I will refer to it by section below:

A. Create button B. Quick Tools toolbar C. Common Tools toolbar
D. Page Navigation commands E. Select & Zoom commands F. Page Display commands
G. File Tools    

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Acrobat X Customization Guide for Large Firms

Large law firms with more than fifty Acrobat users should take advantage of Adobe’s free deployment tools for Acrobat X. Many firms are upgrading to Acrobat X at this time, so I thought I would share a few tips which are specific for the legal industry.

Packaging Adobe Reader or Acrobat for your end-users isn’t difficult, but sometimes IT folks don’t know all of the settings or best practices.

In this article, I’ll discuss:

  • Where to download the Enterprise version of Adobe Reader and get your corporate licenses of Acrobat
  • How to download Adobe’s free customization tools
  • Recommended deployment settings
    • Customization Wizard settings
    • Registry Key Settings

This article will walk you through the settings I recommend using the Acrobat X Customization Wizard.

The information is not intended as a replacement for the numerous documents Adobe makes available to enterprise IT administrators. Here are a few you should check out:

Acrobat Enterprise Toolkit Page

This page is the starting point for everything you need to deploy Acrobat X.

On this page you will find:

Enterprise Administration Guide

This 118-page guide is the main documentation for deploying Acrobat and covers AIP, SCCM/SCUP, GPO, bootstrapper, Citrix and other deployment options.

Preference Reference

The Preference Reference, a dictionary of registry level preferences containing over 300 keys. The application is updated on a monthly basis.

Training Videos for the Acrobat Customization Wizard

Adobe Technical Evangelist Joel Geraci offers videos on using the Customization Wizard.

SCUP Catalogs for Acrobat X and Reader X

SCCM/SCUP are Microsoft’s latest change and configuration management solution that replaces older methodologies such as SMS and GPO. Unlike these older technologies, SCCM provides features such as metering, asset intelligence, inventorying, and improved remote client administration.

Rick Borstein’s Acrobat X Deployment Webinar Recording

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Preventing Edits to Bates Numbers . . . now with an Action!

Bates Numbering is the process of sequentially numbering legal documents.

Bates Numbered Page

I’ve updated this article to cover Acrobat X and I’ve also included a free Action to lock down Bates Numbers.


Acrobat 8, 9 and X Pro allow you to apply and remove Bates Numbers to documents.

In Acrobat X, open the Tools panel and the Pages section:

In Acrobat 8 and 9, choose Advanced—> Document Processing—> Bates Numbering:

Bates Number Menu

The ability to remove Bates Numbers is valuable in case you make a mistake during the numbering process. However, due to the adversarial nature of the legal business, attorneys may desire to limit what the other side can do with documents.

To whit, this email I received from an attorney last week:

What can I use to flatten Bates numbers so that they cannot be altered or removed using the Acrobat Bates numbering process?

I know I can print to PDF, save as TIFF, print-then-scan, etc., but am looking for a solution that will work in batch mode and not degrade the appearance of the file. Also, I don’t favor using security settings because I don’t want to restrict the user’s ability to access the file.

In this article, I’ll discuss how to “lock down” Bates Numbers so that they cannot be removed by Acrobat’s “Remove Bates” option.

Continue reading…

Searching and Marking Multiple Words in a PDF

Legal Professionals often need to search across a large number of documents. Finding a key fact, name or term is an important part of how you will apply your knowledge to a case.

For example, recently a paralegal sent me this email:

An attorney I work with just gave me a list of about 50 words and phrases as part of a case. I need to mark these terms each time I find them in my case documents. Help! Is there a way I can list all of the search words in a PDF?

While many folks have discovered the Search functionality in Acrobat, Acrobat 9 and below do not offer the ability to save searches or report the results.

Oddly, the only tool in Acrobat that allows you to search for terms and mark them in a PDF is part of the Search and Redact feature. This will add a mark to the page around the search term.

Redaction highlights on a document

I wrote about using this technique in my previous article Highlighting Multiple Words in a PDF Document.

In Acrobat 9 Pro, it is possible to highlight multiple search terms using this same technique and you can do so “jiffy quick”.

But, Acrobat redactions permanently remove information!
That’s true, once you apply them. However, in this use case, we are only going to mark the words using the redaction tool, not apply them which actually removes the information.So . . . no worries!

Here’s a link to Joel Geraci’s Redact to Highlight and Back (fixed link), a free script for Acrobat that can convert redaction markups to standard Acrobat annotations.


In this article I’ll show you how to:

  1. Input a series of search terms and have Acrobat automatically mark them
  2. Create a new PDF which summarizes all of the words where found

Continue reading…

Creating Email Portfolios for Small EDD Productions

I took a close look at the Acrobat 9 packaging and didn’t find any mention of EDD (Electronic Data Discovery).

Despite that, I’m hearing from more and more law firms that would like to use Acrobat to capture, review and produce email as part of a case.

A great solution is an Email Portfolio. Acrobat can convert an entire folder of email in Outlook or Lotus Notes into well-organized PDF Portfolio which lets you sort, filter and search.

The Outlook integration provide by Acrobat offers the following:

  1. Convert individual email messages to PDF
  2. Adds attachments in their native format into the PDF of the message
  3. Combines all of the converted messages into a PDF Portfolio
  4. Adds a full-text index to the PDF Portfolio

Acrobat’s email archiving feature is intended to be a personal email archiving tool, however with a bit of tweaking (and perhaps a plug-in like Evermap’s AutoPortfolio), you may be able to use it successfully to manage small EDD productions.

Email Portfolio Movie Thumbnail New to Email Portfolios?
Learn about the basics of Email Portfolios by watching this short movie.

In this article, I’ll discuss:

  1. How to create a new User Account for production
  2. Setting up a “null user” in Outlook
  3. How to load PST and MSG files into Outlook
  4. How to convert email messages into an PDF Email Portfolio
  5. Reviewing documents in the Email Portfolio
  6. Producing Documents from the Email Portfolio
  7. Converting an Email Portfolio to a PDF Binder
  8. How to use Evermap’s AutoPortfolio tool to move data to a litigation support product like Summation or Concordance

Continue reading…