Archive for the ‘Acrobat’ Category


Acrobat: Bad parameter error when try to delete pages in a PDF

May 12, 2021

For my future reference, in case I ever get this error message again—the steps in solution 1 on this page worked for me!

In case that page ever goes missing or gets relocated, here’s the summary of the steps that worked for me in my Acrobat XI Pro version, with some minor edits by me:

Combine the PDF with another PDF

  1. Before you start, create and save a blank, single-page PDF from Word, or some other program.
  2. Launch Acrobat, and then choose File > Create > Combine Files into a Single PDF.
  3. Click the Add Files menu and choose Add Files.
  4. Browse and select the PDF file that shows the ‘Bad Parameter’ error, and then click Open.
  5. Click the Add Files menu and choose Add Files.
  6. Browse and select another PDF file, preferably the blank one you created at Step 1, and then click Open.
  7. Click Combine or Combine Files. The selected files are combined into a single PDF, and the file (Binder1.pdf) is opened in Acrobat.
  8. Save the file. Select all the pages you added to the PDF using the Combine Files operation (the pages of another PDF you selected while combining files). Delete the selected pages:
    • In Acrobat DC/2017, choose View > Tools > Organize Pages > Open. Select the pages you want to delete, and then click the Delete icon or press Delete.
    • In Acrobat XI, choose View > Tools > Pages. Select the pages you want to delete, and then click Delete in the right pane or press Delete.
  9. Save the file again. To see if the error still occurs, try to delete a page from the PDF.

[Link last checked May 2021]


Acrobat: Apply Redactions not available

October 22, 2020

I needed to send a copy of a PDF bank statement to a company, but with the details of balances, transactions, etc. redacted. It was easy enough to mark the areas for redaction in the PDF, but the Apply Redactions option was greyed out and unavailable. (I use Adobe Acrobat Pro XI and the redaction options are under View > Tools > Protection.)

Off to Google, where I found the reason. I’d downloaded the PDF from the bank’s website and some features (such as changing the document or extracting pages) were blocked (File > Properties > Security tab), and a password was required to unblock them.

I doubt I would have ever found out that password if I’d called the bank, so I did the simplest thing—I printed the front page (printing was allowed), scanned the printout as a new PDF and then redacted it. Problem solved.


Acrobat: Copy comments from one PDF to another

August 14, 2020

Warning! I haven’t done this, so I can’t verify that it works exactly as described, but because I know quite a number of my readers use Acrobat and its commenting and markup features, I thought I’d share this tip from the Accidental Medical Writer. I use Acrobat XI Professional, so the process for earlier or later versions may not work exactly as described in those other versions. I doubt It looks like you can do this in Adobe Reader too (see the comment below from titch990, dated August 2020). Also, I’m not sure if this process ONLY imports comments, or imports all other markups as well—the people who wrote the original tip seemed to use ‘comments’ and ‘markups’ interchangeably. I’m also not sure if you can do this multiple times for copies from different reviewers—if anyone has tried this, comment below to add to the information about this tip.

Scenario: You’ve sent out a copy of your original PDF for review. Meantime, you’ve made other changes to the Word document and have regenerated a clean PDF. Now the reviewers send back their copy of the earlier PDF marked up with their comments. You want to incorporate those comments into the clean copy of the PDF that you have. (The original article from the Accidental medical Writer explains their particular scenario.)

  1. In Acrobat, open the clean copy of the PDF into which you want to import the comments.
  2. Click Comment to open the Comments panel.
  3. Locate the search box below Comments List in this panel.
  4. At the far right of the search box area, click the drop-down arrow next to the Options icon.
  5. Select Import Data File.
  6. Select the PDF file containing the reviewer’s comments you want to import.
  7. Click Open and the comments will be imported into the new PDF.
  8. Because your copy of the PDF incorporated other changes, some of the imported comments may be out of position and you’ll need to drag and drop them to the correct place. This is still much quicker than retyping them!

[Link last checked August 2020]


Acrobat: Split a large PDF into multiple files

August 13, 2020

Thanks to the newsletter from the Accidental Medical Writer for this tip!

Did you know you can split a long PDF into multiple files? You can split it by:

  • maximum number of pages for each new file (e.g. 10 pages per file)
  • maximum data size for each new file (e.g. 2 Mb per new file), or
  • top-level bookmarks. If you use Microsoft Word, typically bookmarks are automatically created when you save the Word document as a PDF AND you have used Heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) in that document. Choosing this option means that the file will be split at the top-level bookmarks (e.g. at each Heading 1). However, some PDFs don’t have bookmarks, but you can easily add your own to the PDF and then use this method. (I’ll show you how after the instructions for splitting the file.)

You can also set the Output Options to tell Acrobat where to store the new files and how to label them (by default they are labelled with the original file’s name, followed by Part1, Part2 etc. And you can split multiple PDFs at once. Check the options for splitting a document.

Note: I use Acrobat XI Pro, so the methods for doing this may vary with earlier or later versions. I don’t think this will work in Adobe Reader—I think you need full Acrobat to do this.

Split a PDF into multiple files

  1. Open the PDF in Acrobat Pro (NOT Adobe Reader).
  2. Click Tools to open the Tools panel.
  3. Click Pages, then Split Document.
  4. Choose how you want to split your PDF.
  5. Optional: Click Output Options to set other preferences, and/or Apply to Multiple to split more than one PDF.
  6. Click OK.
  7. The new files are in the folder you set under the Output Options, or, if you didn’t choose a folder, the folder where your original PDF was stored.

Add a bookmark to a PDF

If you PDF doesn’t have bookmarks and you chose the Top-level bookmarks option, you’ll get a message telling you there are no bookmarks in the document. Here’s how to add them:

  1. In the open PDF, click Tools to open the Tools panel, if it’s not already open.
  2. Click Content Editing.
  3. Go to the page in the PDF where you want to split the document.
  4. Click Add Bookmark in the Content Editing section of the Tools panel.
  5. Type a name for the bookmark.
  6. Repeat steps 3 to 6 for all other bookmarks (split points) you want to add.
  7. Save the PDF.

Now you can return to the instructions for splitting a PDF and create a separate file for each section, based on the bookmarks you just inserted.

[Links checked August 2020]



Acrobat and Word: Tagging slows down PDF creation

February 20, 2019

An ex-colleague contacted me about a 220+ page Word document she was trying to PDF using Acrobat Pro. It was taking forever and seemed to be held up at the ‘tagging’ stage. I remembered that I’d encountered this problem many years ago, and the solution was to turn tagging off.

She was using Acrobat Pro DC, whereas I only have Acrobat Pro XI. But it seems the settings are very similar.

I asked her to turn off just one setting and try again. It worked, and she had her PDF within a few minutes.

That setting? In Acrobat Pro XI it’s: Edit > Preferences > Convert to PDF, select Microsoft Office Word, click Edit Settings, then uncheck the Enable accessibility and reflow checkbox. Click OK to exit the preferences screens and retry creating the PDF.


Search inside multiple PDFs at once

January 17, 2018

I had to search for a word across multiple PDFs in a single folder, and didn’t know if there was a way to do that. Off to Google, where I found these excellent instructions:

In case these instructions ever disappear, here’s a short version of the steps:

  1. Open any PDF in Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat.
  2.  Press Shift+Ctrl+F to open the Search panel.
  3. Select the All PDF Documents in option.
  4. Click the dropdown list arrow to show all drives. This is not an expandable list, so to specify a particular folder, select Browse for Location, navigate to and select the folder you want to search, then click OK.
  5. Type the word or phrase to search.
  6. Optional: Select any other search filter criteria (e.g. whole words only, case-sensitive). Note: At the bottom of the panel is a link to Show More Options if the filter criteria you want is not listed.
  7. Click Search.
  8. When the results are displayed, click on a result to open that PDF at the first instance of the word you searched for. Other instances within the same PDF are listed under the PDF location in the search results.

This just saved me a heap of time!

Update 29 March 2021: For other tools that do this (with screen shots and a list of pros and cons for each), see


Firefox: Can’t open PDF in Acrobat

September 16, 2014

Firefox allows you to set options for how you’d like to deal with a linked file (Tools > Options > Applications). I thought I had them all set properly to open a PDF with Adobe Acrobat:


But PDF links clicked in Firefox would still try to save and NOT open in Acrobat as I wanted!

So after many months of being frustrated by this behavior and setting and resetting those options (for some reason, they reset themselves every so often — I’m not sure if it’s related to the regular Firefox updates or something else), I went looking for an answer. After viewing a lot of websites, I found another setting on that screen that is the critical one — you have to scroll down and there’s Portable Document Format!:



Once I set this to use Acrobat, everything worked fine.

What I want to know is how is ‘Adobe Acrobat Document’ in this list different to ‘Portable Document Format’ and why is PDF under P and not under A as all the other Adobe options are?



PDF: Table borders not showing

June 27, 2014

In the past few days, I’ve had several calls or emails from work colleagues about some table border lines not displaying in a PDF created from a Word document. This only happens on some tables, not all, and only for some horizontal borders, not all. I recall this issue from many years ago, and searching Google (see the links below) shows that it’s been around since at least 2004!


  • The table in Word still has all its borders.
  • The same table in the PDF is missing one or more horizontal borders – perhaps the top border of the table, or the bottom border where the table breaks across the page to the next page.

Invariably, it’s not Word that’s at fault here, but the PDF and how it displays. You can prove this by:

  • printing the PDF page the table is on – it usually prints fine, with all borders intact
  • zooming in on the PDF (e.g. 400% or more) – you’ll see the border, proving that it’s there.

I tried some of the simpler suggested solutions in those links and found one that worked, and that has now worked for those people who contacted me.

NOTE: If you have both Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat X (Standard or Pro) installed, you’ll have to do these steps in BOTH software applications – search for ‘Adobe’ on your Start button to find out which one(s) you have installed.

  1. Open Adobe Reader and/or Acrobat X Standard/Pro.
  2. Go to Edit > Preferences.
  3. Select Page Display on the left.
  4. Clear the check box for Enhance thin lines (it’s checked by default – you have to turn it off).
  5. Save your settings.
  6. Now view the PDF – the missing table borders should now display.



Articles that discuss this table border issue in PDFs:

[Links last checked June 2014]


Installing Acrobat XI Pro just worked…

June 20, 2014

After berating Adobe over many years — for their complex installation processes, their unfair pricing to non-US customers, etc. — I bit the bullet and purchased an upgrade from Acrobat 9 Pro to Acrobat XI Pro. I did this with some trepidation as this has NEVER gone well for me before.

My initial feelings about Adobe weren’t helped by the steps you have to go through to actually find a place on their website to purchase an upgrade and a downloadable one at that (yes, you click the button for buying a monthly subscription for Creative Cloud and then you get to pages where you can narrow that down and choose upgrades etc. Not at all intuitive…). However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Australian price for the upgrade (AU$239) wasn’t too far different from the US price (US$199), though there was an ‘end of financial year discount’ on at the time, so the real price for Australians is about $280.

I added the downloadable upgrade to my cart and clicked Checkout. Nothing happened. Nor after clicking it several times. I thought perhaps I needed to sign in, so I tried that and got caught up in an endless loop of Adobe trying to find my details (spinning wheel of death in Firefox for more than 20 minutes before I closed the web page). I tried this a few times, with no different result. This was not looking good for Adobe and my feelings about them… So I left it for a couple of days until I had time to talk to the sales reps on the 1800 number listed on the Australian shopping cart web page.

Deep breath… The friendly sales person suggested I clear my cookies or use a different browser, so I opened up my rarely used Chrome and was able to complete the transaction. Yay!

The download process is still pretty clumsy as there’s a download installer you have to install first (which Windows Firewall wanted to block), then the actual download, then the file extraction, then the installation of the files, then the installation of Acrobat XI Pro – all up this took about 30 minutes. And once it’s installed, you have to reboot your computer (no big deal).

Next step was to test that the Acrobat tab was added to Office 2010 (it was) and to create a PDF from a Word document. I got more messages about licensing and registration and activation, and was taken to Adobe’s website to check my profile information, though there was nothing about activation or registration I could see.

So I tried creating a PDF from a Word 2010 document again, and got another message about the product not being activated! Uh oh… I went to the About menu in Acrobat where there was an option for ‘deactivating’, leading me to assume it was activated. There was also another option for registration, so I clicked on that and found more stuff related to my profile and orders. Yep, my order was listed. Back to Acrobat to try printing a PDF (worked), scanning from my printer/scanner to PDF (worked) and then creating a PDF from the Acrobat tab in Word 2010 — finally it worked without an error message, so I guess somewhere in there or behind the scenes Acrobat activated itself remotely.

Yes, the process was quite clumsy (and not at all friendly for newcomers to Acrobat/Adobe), but the price was reasonably within range of the US price, and once the behind-the-scenes activation happened, it just worked.

And for that I’m very grateful as I expected an angry day on the phone to Adobe Support.

Now if only they could get Flash to work with Firefox…


PDF: Corrupted image and lost links

January 16, 2013

A work colleague called me. She’d discovered that an image in the Word document she was creating a PDF from was corrupted in the resulting PDF. She tried creating the PDF using the PDF/A setting and that worked to a degree — the image was now OK, but she’d lost all her clickable links (Table of Contents, cross-references, etc.). She needed both an uncorrupted image AND clickable links, but couldn’t get both using the ‘save as PDF’ option in Word 2007.

I remembered this document — there were a couple of images in the document that weren’t really images; they were linked Visio objects. And the ‘corrupted’ image was one of these. I suspected that’s where the corruption was coming from, especially as she told me in her phone call that she’d saved the document to her desktop for the purposes of PDF’ing it (the document and the Visio diagram normally live in the client’s SharePoint site); that made me think that the link to the Visio diagram got broken in the process of creating the PDF.

I got her to save the document under a different name (just so she didn’t mess up the one she already had), then got her to copy the (Visio) image and paste it as a picture, then remove the original Visio image. Next I got her to try saving it as a PDF as normal (i.e. not PDF/A), and everything worked! The image was no longer corrupted and all her links worked.

Finally, I suggested that she speak to the author of the document to see if he really needed the linked Visio diagram — if it was unlikely to change, a static image (like the one she’d just created) would appear to be the same and wouldn’t corrupt in the PDF creation process; however, it wouldn’t be able to be edited from within the Word document.

As an aside, it’s likely she wouldn’t have had this issue if she had PDF’ed the document from within SharePoint as the links would have worked correctly. By copying the document to her desktop, it’s likely that those links got broken.