Nitro PDF Pro 5.5

Not long ago, I noted that I had a review of Nitro PDF Pro published by the ABA’s Law Technology News. One of the products I reviewed was Nitro PDF Pro 5.5.  I just received word that version 6 has recently been released. You can see a list of the upgrades here.

I think Nitro is a great PDF option. The major quibble I had with version 5 were that it lacked an OCR engine. I have looked through the upgrade information and I do not see that an OCR engine was added to this version. Can anyone confirm or correct me on this point?

Below is a copy of the review I recently did.

Nitro PDF Professional 5.5

Slowly but steadily attorneys are moving into the digital world and using more electronic documents. For many of us, that means that we are using, manipulating, or otherwise handling PDF documents on a daily basis.

For years, the gold standard for handing PDFs has been Adobe Acrobat. Further, in the legal world, that has meant Adobe Acrobat Professional, which contains features, such as Bates Stamping and metadata removal, that are often used by attorneys.

Recently, however, Nitro PDF Pro has been gaining ground as an acceptable alternative to Acrobat Pro. One key reason for this is that Nitro includes many of the features found in Acrobat Pro, but at a fraction of the cost. Nitro PDF Pro costs $99. Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional costs $449.

The question is whether you can do everything that you need to do with Nitro and save yourself some money. The short answer to that is maybe. There are many things that I like about this program and only a couple that keep me from recommending it as you primary PDF handler.

First, Nitro does some things better than Adobe. For example, I hate the menus in Acrobat. They are clunky and, although technically customizable, the limits to the customization are so great as to render them uncustomizable in practice. Nitro, however, has adopted the ribbon introduced in Microsoft Office 2007.

The ribbon presents a much cleaner interface that makes it easy to find the tools included with the program. Additionally, just as with Office 2007, you can easily minimize the ribbon to maximize screen space. Plus, you can easily add or remove icons on the top toolbar.

The second thing that Nitro handles much better than Acrobat is the ability to insert text. In Acrobat 8, Adobe introduced the Typewriter function that allows you to add text to your document as though you were using a typewriter. The feature is nice, but the ability to format the text is very limited and often frustrating to work with.

With Nitro, however, you have full control over the appearance of your text. You can choose any font you have installed on your system, choose the color, and choose the font size, all as though you were working in a word processer.

In addition to the features that Nitro handles better than Acrobat, Nitro can also perform many of the same functions that you can in Acrobat. For example, Nitro includes commenting and markup features such as sticky notes, a highlighter, the snapshot tool, boxes, stamps, and callout boxes. All of these tools allow you to easily annotate the document.

Also, Nitro includes the ability to split your PDF, join PDFs, inset pages, and otherwise manipulate the pages in the document. Similarly, you can easily add bookmarks, hyperlinks, and watermarks to your document.

A feature I was pleasantly surprised to find was the ability to Bates Stamp your documents. You can easily set the starting number, add a prefix or suffix, and choose the location of the stamp. Plus, just as with the inset text feature, you have full control over the font, size, and color of the stamp.

The only drawback that I found with this feature is that I found no way to save my different Bates numbering schemes. With Acrobat, I can identify my numbering scheme and the program remembers the last number that I used. When I need to stamp additional documents on that same case, it starts numbering from where I last left off. I wish that Nitro incorporated this feature.

The largest objection I have with working with Nitro as my only PDF program is that it does not include an OCR engine to add a layer of text to your PDF. If you currently use a third party program to add a text layer to your PDF, then this no problem. I, however, typically use Acrobat’s OCR engine to add a text layer to my PDFs. Thus, not having this feature in Nitro PDF Pro is a big negative for me.

The other quibble that I have with Nitro is how it handles multiple documents. With many programs (including Word and Acrobat), when you open multiple documents, you get multiple windows that you can move around. I find this tremendously useful when I am working and it allows me to fully utilize my multiple monitor setup. Nitro, however, uses tabs, similar to how web browsers use tabs.

I admit that the tabs are implemented really well and include some nice features, such as the ability to group certain tabs together. What I would really like to see is the ability to open multiple instances of Nitro, while also retaining the ability to use the tabs within each instance of Nitro that is open.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well designed this program is. If it included an OCR engine, I would not hesitate to recommend it as a possible substitute for Adobe Acrobat. As it stands, I believe that Nitro PDF Professional is far superior to Acrobat in its handling of its menus as well as with its typewriter function. Further, Nitro performs many of the same functions that you find in Acrobat, and does most of these just as well. If you are looking for an alternative to Adobe Acrobat, try the free 14 day trial and see if Nitro PDF meets your needs.

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