Nitro PDF Reader

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.

Good News for Nitro PDF Users

I have written before about Nitro PDF Professional. It is a full-featured PDF program that is a less expensive option to Adobe Acrobat. The once drawback that has always concerned me about Nitro PDF Professional is that it does not include OCR capabilities. I saw on The PDF Blog, that Nitro has released Nitro PDF Professional OCR. From what I can tell, this appears to be the Professional version with OCR technology included.

Apparently, I was not the only person who was looking for this functionality. In the blog post, Nitro admitted that this was a highly requested feature:

OCR has long been the single most requested feature in our Customer Connect forum, where our users can suggest, request, and vote for the inclusion of features in Nitro products. As Gina O’Reilly, our SVP of Sales & Marketing said – “it was never a question of whether or not we add OCR to our feature set – simply, how quickly can we build it?”

I have not yet tried the OCR function. However, I am thrilled to see that this feature has finally made it to their product.

I am an unapologetic fan of Adobe Acrobat. However, I have also used Nitro PDF and find that it incorporates many features that I use when working with PDFs. In fact, there are some things that I prefer about Nitro. These include the menu (they us a ribbon with a fully customizable toolbar). I find this much nicer than the largely inflexible toolbars found in Acrobat. I also like ease with which you can comment and markup your documents. If you are looking for a program to allow you to work with PDFs, I suggest you check out both Adobe Acrobat and Nitro PDF, then get the one that works best for you.

Note that I have not yet tried the new OCR feature in Nitro. However, in the past I have received review copies of the software to evaluate.

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.

Reviews of UltraMon and Nitro PDF Pro

Today I had two reviews published by the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section in their Law Practice Today webzine.

The first is a review of UltraMon, a product I have used for years. If you use multiple monitors, you definitely need to check this utility out.

The second is a review of Nitro PDF PRo. I have use this program just during the last few months. During that time, however, I have been very impressed with the options it has to handle PDFs.

Go here for further information on UltraMon and here for further information on NitroPDF Pro.

PDF Tips and Tricks

Recently PDF for Lawyers pointed to a great article on How to Do Everything with PDF Files. I don’t know that the list actually covers how to do everything. However, it is a pretty comprehensive list with several different tips, including several for creating PDFs without using Adobe Acrobat. The first few tips include:

Q: First things first – How do I create PDF documents on my computer without Adobe Acrobat?

A: Get a copy of DoPDF – it installs as a virtual printer driver on your desktop just like Acrobat and lets you print PDF files from any Windows application including images, documents, emails, websites, etc.

Q: I don’t want to install software just for converting a bunch of documents to PDF. Do you know of any alternative?

A: Upload your documents to Google Docs via the browser and then export them as PDF files. Simple.

Q: A client just sent me a PowerPoint presentation by email. Since I am travelling without the laptop and my mobile phone cannot read PPT files, what should I do?

A: Forward that email message (with the PPT attachment) to – they’ll convert the presentation to PDF and email it back to you immediately. Most mobile phones can read PDF files.

Check out the article for the entire list. The list contains some excellent tips for manipulating PDF files if you do not have Adobe Acrobat.

Now I, like Ross Kodner, believe that the best PDF solution available is Adobe Acrobat. Further, as Ross explains, multiple ways exist to get a full version without paying list price. Additionally, when compared to other similarly powered software solutions, the street price of Acrobat is not out of line.

Despite my believe that everyone should have a full version of Acrobat. I recognize that the solutions in this list are useful for two groups of people. First, there is the large number of people who can’t or won’t purchase a full version of Acrobat. Second, are those who have a full version of Actobat but who are stuck working on a different computer because of travel, etc. In either situation, the tips here give you a great option to create or manipulate PDF files.

Note: I recently installed and begin using Nitro PDF and am in the process of evaluating it. I will be providing a full review on it in the near future. In the meantime, I would note that it has many features not found in other PDF programs and I am enjoying trying it out.

Nitro PDF, A Viable Alternative to Adobe Acrobat?

The Greatest American Lawyer recently suggested a viable alternative to Adobe Acrobat: Nitro PDF. Most Acrobat alternatives do nothing more than simply create PDFs. In my mind, that is not the purpose of Adobe Acrobat. It has many more features that allow you to comment on or otherwise handle your PDF documents. According to GAL, Nitro PDF includes these features:

You need to do more than read PDF documents.  You need to be able to engage in mark-up, editing, commenting, and creating PDF documents.  I have been using both Nitro and Adobe products for years.  I have always been shocked at how good Nitro is at mimicking the Adobe Standard functionality.

I have not tried Nitro PDF before, but it sounds like they have the right idea here. If you are looking for a full featured PDF program and don’t want to buy Acrobat, now might be the time to check out Nitro PDF. The regular price is $99. However, Nitro PDF has a Christmas special that is valid unit December 19. The special pricing is $49.50.

As GAL noted in his post, even if you already have a full version of Acrobat, Nitro makes a good option to give your staff full PDF functionality without the cost of Acrobat.