Archive for the ‘Acrobat’ Category


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!


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.


Acrobat: Setting permissions on a PDF document

October 18, 2012

One of my clients asked:

I am saving a PDF file for registered users to download. I’ve set the settings so that people will not be able to edit the information. What other things should I be setting? Author’s details? I have no idea where that is located.

Here’s my response, with some instructions; .

I guess your main purpose in protecting the PDF is to prevent unauthorized copying and modifying, and to indicate authorship.

  1. Open the PDF in Acrobat Pro (these settings are the same in Acrobat 9 Pro and Acrobat X Pro, the two versions I tested).
  2. Go to File > Properties.
  3. Description tab: This picks up the title and author from the originating document (e.g. Word), but you can change that information here. Title and Author would be the main ones – personally, I don’t think you need to bother with the rest. That said, under the Additional Metadata button there are some copyright options. These don’t DO anything, expect add information that you provide about copyright. Be aware that ANYTHING published in Australia is automatically subject to copyright law, whether you have a © imprint/details proclaiming copyright or not.
  4. Security tab: Here’s where you can lock down your PDF. But be careful about locking it down too much. You may want to consider locking down Content Copying and Changing the Document.
  5. On the Security tab, go to Security Method and select Password Security. The Password Security — Settings dialog box opens.
  6. Go to the Permissions section of the Password Security – Settings dialog box and consider selecting Restrict editing and printing, then select one of the Printing Allowed options and Changes Allowed options.
  7. Consider turning off the Enable copying of text, images and other content check box, and consider leaving the Enable text access check box turned on.
  8. Add a password in the Change Permissions Password field (in the Permissions section). Make sure you note this password somewhere otherwise you won’t be able to copy the content etc. either. (Of course, you could always re-create the PDF from the original document if you forget the password.)
  9. Click OK to close this dialog box.
  10. Click OK on the warning message.
  11. Enter the document’s password you just set at Step 8 on the password confirmation popup box, then click OK.

PDF won’t deal with Word landscape pages properly

October 11, 2012

One of my work colleagues sent me a Word 2007 document and its resulting PDF and asked me to see if I could figure out what was happening with two landscape sections.

Both sections looked like this in the PDF, though they looked perfectly fine in the Word document — notice how the two pages with the maps have headers and footers going off the page and that the page is the same dimensions as the Portrait-oriented page above:

I tried several things — re-creating the PDF using Acrobat, using Word’s PDF option, fiddling with the settings in Acrobat etc. all to no avail. In fact, for some tests, I just made it worse!

So I decided to take a closer look at the Word document, and there I found the problem. What appeared to be a landscape section wasn’t. It looked like a landscape section and when I checked the Orientation options on the Page Layout tab in Word, it said it was Landscape, but when I opened the Page Setup dialog box, all was revealed.

The first thing I noticed was that Portrait was selected, not Landscape, even though Landscape was showing as selected on the Orientation button on the ribbon. WTF?

So I checked the Paper tab settings. One of the authors had set a Custom size for the paper size and defined a width and height that matched a landscape A4 page, thinking they were doing the right thing, but in hindsight they weren’t — it was a case of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!

Just in case this custom page size was the cause of the odd PDF, I changed the page orientation setting on the Margins tab to Landscape.

I then went to the Paper tab to change it back to A4, but it had automatically changed to A4 after I switched to Landscape:

The next test was to save the document and re-create the PDF. The landscape section that was misbehaving now worked fine! So I changed the other incorrectly defined landscape section in the document and re-did the PDF.

Everything was right with my world again! ;-) And my work colleagues were very happy.

Actually, it wasn’t quite right… I found that the PDFs I generated had a lot of excess space above the headers and below the footers throughout the document no matter which PDF creation method I used. I only did a couple of tests to see what was causing it. But I just didn’t have the time to investigate, so I opened the document on my other computer in Word 2010 and re-created the PDF from the default settings and it worked — all that excess space disappeared. I still don’t know what caused that space issue — maybe I’ll have time to investigate the reason next week when some of my deadline pressure is off.

Update: The excess space above/below the headers and footers was related to the track changes view. The document had Final Showing Markup selected on the Review tab in Word as the authors need to show the readers the tracked changes. When I changed the view to Final and re-created the PDF, all that excess space above/below the headers/footers disappeared (as of course, did the excess space on the right for the tracked change markups). But of course, the track changes weren’t visible now. I know that most of the PDFs created by my client have track changes showing and DON’T have this issue with excess space about the headers/footers, but I haven’t yet figured out why it did it with this document. More investigation required…

Update 2: Gerald (comment 1, dated 18 Oct 2012 below) suggested turning off the balloons for comments and formatting in the Track Changes settings in Word. I did, and it worked — the excess space above the headers and below the footers disappeared! This was in Acrobat Pro X and Word 2007. On my other computer, I have Acrobat Pro 9 and Word 2010 and I didn’t get the excess space issue; however, on checking my Word 2010 Track Changes settings, I saw that they were set to show balloons Never, so it looks as though that’s the critical setting. That said, why does Acrobat add space above/below the headers/footers when the Word setting for the balloons is 6.5 cm right (or left; there are no options for top/bottom)? Interestingly, I used the ruler in the PDF to measure the space above/below and both were about 3 cm, so it looks as though Acrobat is not only adding a 6.5 cm space to the right to accommodate the comment balloons, but also adding a combined 6.5 cm to the length of the page too. As a side note, when I turned off the balloons, any comments in the document remained hidden in the PDF — there was a marker to indicate there was a comment, but the comment wouldn’t display in the PDF at all.