Adobe Acrobat X: The Final Review

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.

    Similar Icons

    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.

My Review of Adobe Acrobat 9

TechnolawyerLast week, my review of Adobe Acrobat 9 was published by Technolawyer. The review can be found on my Files page or downloaded directly from here.

The short version is that I love the program and would recommend it to anyone who has not yet upgraded. There are several new features as well as improvements to existing features. As I said in the review:

The greatest improvement that I have seen, however, resides in the Forms feature. With Acrobat 8, I could create a form. However, doing so was not an easy process. Every time I tried to use the feature, I ended up spending a lot of time trying to get the form right. And I still usually ended up with a form that worked, but was not what I wanted.

With version 9, however, Adobe has made the Forms feature much more functional. The form wizard recognizes the form fields better. Also, I can now easily add new fields or modify any of the automatically recognized fields. Plus, Adobe has made form creation even easier by having all of the fields appear in the left sidebar. This means I can easily access and modify them, and I can change the tab order of the fields simply by dragging the field names around.

Download my full review here.