I have been using Adobe Acrobat X for several months now. Not long after I first started using it, I published a post about my initial impressions. In this post I will add some additional thoughts based upon a few months of heavy usage.
Before I go too far, I want to make clear that I like this program a lot. Much of this post will deal with suggested improvements for the program. Don’t let that mislead you into thinking that I don’t like the program.
I probably use Acrobat to do more legal work than any other program (yes, that includes Word). If I did not prefer it, I would be using a different program. However, Adobe Acrobat meets my needs as a legal professional and it is my program of choice when handling PDFs.
Adobe did a lot of good things in this version and got a lot of things right. If you are using a version that is 8 or older, I would recommend that you upgrade. The improvement of the OCR engine alone, makes the upgrade worthwhile.
- As I noted in my earlier post, the menus are much more customizable. This is a good thing and something I really like about this edition.
- The OCR engine has improved, again. I thought that the improvements between 8 and 9 were significant. I think that the improvement between 9 and X is almost as significant.
- In addition to improving how the OCR engine work, Adobe has also added a “Save as” feature that allows you to save a PDF as a Word document, Excel file, plain text, or a number of other formats. The key here is that to export the text, you do not first have to run OCR on the document. Acrobat does this automatically when you choose the save as format. This is something that should have been added versions ago. It’s nice to see it now.
- This version seems to be more stable. With Acrobat 9 I sometimes had stability problems between Acrobat and Outlook (who knows, maybe that was Outlook’s fault). Regardless, I have had no such problems with Acrobat X. It seem extremely stable. Something not often found in complicated programs these days.
- The Menu structure. In the past, some features were buried 4 or 5 clicks deep in the Acrobat menus. The menus have now been changed to reduce this. This does not mean the menus are perfect (see below), however, it does mean that they are better than before.
- The typewriter function seems to work better than in previous versions. I like this feature a lot before. Now I love it.
- As I noted in my earlier post, I think the action wizards are great and provide an effective way of ensuring that your staff handles documents in that manner that you want.
- The menu structure. Adobe changed the menus to try to make features more accessible. I think that this is a good thing. However, I don’t think that they have quite hit the mark yet. The features now appear both in menus across the top and in a sidebar called tools. If I am looking for something that I don’t use often, I end up having to check all of the locations just to find the feature. Yes, the features are less hidden, however, I don’t think that they are well organized. I wish that Adobe would simply switch to something like Microsoft’s ribbon. That is a much cleaner interface and I think makes the features easier to find. I have also used Nitro PDF Professional (review coming soon), which uses a ribbon. As a result, I significantly prefer their interface.
- Although the toolbars are customizable, they are not customizable nearly enough. From my perspective, there is simply no excuse for Acrobat to not have a fully customizable toolbar. I can only add the commands to the toolbar that Adobe wants me to add. This means, for example, that I cannot add a “Save as” button, a feature I use quite often. It also means that the navigation toolbar must appear below the other toolbar. I like to control my screen space, I wish Adobe would let me do that.
- Some of the icons that Adobe uses are inexplicable.
By that I mean that you cannot tell from the icon, what it actually represents. For example, I use three tools regularly: Rotate page; Insert page from another file; and Extract page. Any one of the icons for these three features could easily represent any ofthe others (see picture). I know which one does what, simply because I have memorized the order I have put them in.
- They have changed the menu structure again. As I noted above, I think that, in the larger scheme of things, the changes they have made to the menus are positive. I am a firm believer that, if your UI needs to be improved, then make the change. My concern is that Adobe has made some significant changes to the UI in the last several version of the product. For example, I do not think the location of the page navigation buttons has been the same in consecutive versions since version 6. Thus, while I think the change is a step in the right direction, my fear is that version 11 is going to look entirely different. Constant change in the UI is not a good way to keep regular users. A single massive change as a course correction is a good think. Only time will tell what this was for Acrobat.
As you can see, my complaints largely center around the UI. If Adobe would improve that, I would be immensely thrilled. As it stands, Adobe Acrobat X is an excellent program that I use daily in my practice. It is very stable and allows me to handle and manipulate PDFs in ways that no other programs do. If you are looking for a PDF program, this is a great choice. If you are considering upgrading, I would definitely suggest doing so if you are using version 8 or older.
Please note that I received a copy of this program for evaluation purposes.
For the last few days, I have been taking Adobe Acrobat X for a test drive. I plan to do a full review later. However, I thought I would hit a few highlights right now. Overall, I think X is an improvement over 9. If you use Acrobat a lot, there are some features that will likely improve your efficiency using the product. With respect to specifics, here are some of my initial thoughts.
- The toolbar is much more customizable than it ever had been before. I can easily add just the tools that I wanted to the toolbar. This was one of my main complaints in previous versions , thus I am thrilled to see this improvement. In particular, Adobe has added an icon for insert pages and extract pages. I use both of these tools a lot. I am glad that I no longer have to drill down the menus to get to these.
- Menus are another area of improvement. For the most part, these are are gone. Instead, Adobe has replaced your menus with a right hand panel that you can activate to gain access to various tools that you use. These panels are organized better than the menus ever were. Most selections are no more than a couple of clicks away. This is a huge improvement over the old interface.
- Read mode is a new feature that makes the toolbars disappear. When you select this, you gain a navigation toolbar that appears when you move your mouse to the bottom of the page, but otherwise disappears when you are navigating through the document. I am very judicious of my screen space. Consequently, I think this a great feature. Further, it takes only one click (or keystroke) to get back to the normal view.
- Action Wizards are another new feature. I have not yet had a chance to play with these. However, I have seen them demonstrated. Basically, they allow you to create a multiple step process to handle a PDF. For example, an office could have a process in which (i) all incoming mail is scanned, (ii) OCR is ran on each document, and (iii) each document is stamped with a received stamp that contains the date. Before, you would have to train whoever was doing this process to make sure that each step was followed. With the Action Wizard, however, you could create an Action called Incoming Mail. All the person would have to do is follow the steps in the Action and it would ensure that each of your steps was being followed. I think there are some really good process possibilities here that can be used in a practice.
- Adobe finally added a toolbar to for Firefox, similar to what they have had for Internet Explorer. This is a smart addition and something I never understood why they didn’t have before.
Thus far, I like the software and I think it has a lot to offer. Despite my praise, I have a couple of quibbles, however.
- It does not appear that I can control the location of the navigation toolbar. I would really like to do this. As I said before, I am very judicious of my screen space. Therefore, I would like the ability to have all of my toolbars in a single line across the top, rather than have to have 2 lines.
- I use the Save As feature regularly.I saw no way to add this icon to the toolbar. I simply don’t understand this omission.
If you currently use Adobe Acrobat, I recommend checking out Adobe Acrobat X.
I make no secret about the fact that I am a big fan of Adobe Acrobat. I use it every day and consider it an integral part of my paperless practice. That being said, I recognize the Acrobat has a some flaws that I don’t like and that it is not inexpensive. Although, I will also note that, although no inexpensive, Adobe Acrobat is not really expensive when compared to specialized legal (or other industry) software.
Nevertheless, there are other options available. One of my favorites is from Nitro. In addition to their full-featured Nitro PDF Professional OCR (which retails for $119.99), Nitro has also released a free version of their software, Nitro PDF Reader, that does much more than just read PDFs.
In addition to just viewing PDF files, you can use Nitro PDF Reader to create PDF files, add notes to PDFs, type on PDFs, complete and save forms, and create and apply signatures. For a full list of what Nitro PDF Reader can do, click here.
There are a lot of things to like about Nitro’s PDF products. However, you can hardly go wrong trying their free reader and see how it works for you. If your use of PDFs is limited to viewing, creating, and filling in a few forms, then y0u may be able to meet your needs without spending a cent.
On Tuesday, I attended the Acrobat demonstration that I recently posted about. As usual Rick Borstein and Mark Middleton did a great job. Despite the fact that I had already seen each portion of the presentation as part of a webcast, there were still things that I learned that I would never had known had I not gone.
There is still time for you to sign up for the presentations in Seattle or San Francisco. I cannot urge your strongly enough to learn how to leverage the power of Acrobat.
Rick Borstein just announced that he is presenting 3-hour Acrobat demonstrations in Chicago, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Seattle. If you work in or near one of these cities and want to improve your Acrobat skills, you should take advantage of this opportunity. I have seen Rick present several times, and he always does a great job.
I believe that Acrobat is one of the most underused programs available. Use this opportunity to change that fact in your office.
One of my favorite features in Adobe Acrobat is its ability to add Bates numbers to hundreds of pages in less than a minute. Another great feature built into the Bates numbering feature is that, because Acrobat stores the Bates numbering information as metadata, it allows you to remove the Bates number from the documents. This is particularly convenient if you find that you want to reorder your documents before you produce your documents to the other side.
The downside of this flexibility, of course, is the fact that if you send these documents to someone else, then they can also modify your Bates numbers. Fortunately, this issue is one that is easy to solve and Rick Borstein explains how in a post on his Acrobat for Legal Professionals Blog. As Rick explains:
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.
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In this article, I’ll discuss how to “lock down” Bates Numbers so that they cannot be removed by Acrobat’s “Remove Bates” option.
In his post, Rick explains to how protect your Bates numbers in both a single documents and in multiple documents. Check out the entire post for his easy to follow instructions.
One of the things I love about Acrobat 9 is the ease with which you can create forms. Adding form fields is quite easy and makes working with pre-printed court forms a piece of cake.
I was recently working on a form the other day, however, and realized that I wanted to create a field that automatically calculated the information based on the information provided in another field. I know that you can create calculated fields in Acrobat, but I don’t know how to create the calculation script for what I want. I was hoping that some Acrobat expert has a suggestion for me.
What I am looking for is a script that will do the following: Field 1 is a date. For field 2, I would like the field to automatically calculate the date 3 days before the date entered in Field 1.
Is this something that can be done? Does anyone know how to write this script?
Anyone familiar with my blog knows that I am a big proponent of storing every document in every file electronically. When I talk about this, one question that many people ask is what kind of scanner to get. One of the most popular scanners is the Fujitsu ScanSnap. This scanner is reasonably priced, works well, and is easy to operate. Three qualities that I am sure have helped its popularity.
Knowing the right hardware to use, however, is only part of the battle. You also have to know how to integrate that hardware into your workflow. Recently Rick Borstein posted a tutotial on how to best integrate a ScanSnap with Adobe Acrobat.
As with many of Rick’s posts, he takes you step-by-step (including handy pictures) through how to best set the scanner up to use it with Adobe Acrobat. If you are considering adding a ScanSnap to your desktop, you definately want to check out Rick’s post.
Recently I posted about an article I had published in Chicago Lawyer Magazine about using Adobe Acrobat as part of my legal research workflow. I have received a couple of questions relating to the article relating to which version of Acrobat you need and how to create an index so that the research is searchable.
With respect to the question of what version of Acrobat is needed, that depends largely on what you want to do with the research that you have. If what you are concerned with is reading your research and annotating it any of the paid versions of Adobe Acrobat will work fine. Please note that the free Adobe Reader will not work for this. You must have one of the paid versions. Alternatively, a program such as NitroPDF would work just fine for this as well. In fact, I find Nitro’s commenting and mark-up tools easy to use than Acrobat’s.
However, if you wish to make your research fully searchable by creating an index that spans multiple files or multiple folders, you will need either Acrobat Pro or Pro Extended. These allow you to create a very powerful index. Doing so is actually quite simple. Further, Rick Borstein has already done all of the work of demonstrating how to do this.
In a blog post from a couple of years ago, Rick explains how to create an index in Adobe Acrobat. Although the instructions provided are for Acrobat 8, they also appear to be the same to create an index in Acrobat 9.
Additionally, for those who learn best by watching, Rick has some how-to videos to talk about search options in Acrobat. In particular, he has one that talks about the differences between Find and Search and one that demonstrates how to build a full text index.
As you can see from Rick’s post and demo, creating an index is an easy thing to do. Further, it can certainly aid you when you want to search through your PDFs, whether they relate to legal research or not.
Adobe Acrobat has a really powerful document compare feature. This is a great feature in that there are times that you just can’t get a copy of the original word processing document to run a comparison with it. One of the drawbacks of the feature, however, is that sometimes the amount of information that you get can be overwhelming.
In this case, getting too much information can be almost as bad as not getting enough information. Fortunately, Adobe has come up with a way to modify the types of information that you see when you compare documents.
The great thing is that you really don’t have to understand what he is talking about in order to use the script. Simply follow his step by step instructions to download the script and add another feature to your Acrobat menu.