Archive for category Adobe Acrobat
Newer Adobe Acrobat files do not often play nice with older versions of Acrobat. Sometimes you may receive a file, add annotations in Acrobat 8 or 9, save it, then send it to someone who is using Acrobat 6 who cannot see the changes you made.
The workaround for this is to re-print the file to PDF.
Why does this work? When you “save” a PDF file, it is saved as the version of the program you are using. When you “print” a PDF file, it is compatible with versions back to 5.0 (released in 2001).
The only caveat is that your annotations are now hard-coded and therefore cannot be changed in the resulting file.
As CPAs, we often deal with confidential information, and hopefully our IT departments have implemented safeguards to protect against such information getting into the wrong hands. What they cannot protect against, however, is the accidental sharing of information that you thought was hidden.
The news article linked above refers to a “glitch” that allowed a PDF with blacked-out text to be fully readable. A reader of the document simply selected the text, including the blacked-out text, copied it, and pasted it into another program. What is referred to as a “glitch” in the article was probably just an uninformed use of the highlighter tool in Acrobat.
As shown below, the highlighter tool can be used to black out text when the color is changed to black:
The problem is, the text can still be selected, copied, and pasted as if it were never obscured in the first place. Although reprinting the document to PDF leaves the text not-selectable, it will still be faintly visible:
If you need to share a document that contains confidential information:
- Determine if the document needs to be shared in the first place.
- Don’t rely on Acrobat’s (or any other program for that matter) built-in tools that appear to do the job.
- Try printing the document to paper, blacking out text with a marker, and scanning the document back in.
- If you are unsure, consult with a tech savvy supervisor or a member of the IT department to determine any potential vulnerability before sending to a third party.
Above all, keep in mind the potential damaging effects of sharing information that should not have been shared, especially by accident.
Someone just shared with me a very clever method of naming bookmarks for PDF files. They found that if you highlight text within the file, the bookmark will automatically be named with the text you selected.
- Open the Bookmarks pane by clicking the bookmarks icon on the left side of the screen.
- Choose the Text Select tool from the toolbar.
- Select some text.
- Click the New Bookmark button on the Bookmarks pane.
Opening the pages navigation tab opens up a lot of possibilities for quick tasks. Here are a few of the most useful things you can do:
- Rearrange pages by clicking and dragging the thumbnails.
- Shift-click or CTRL-click multiple pages to rotate, extract, or delete pages. Right-click on one or more pages to access the functions that can be performed.
- Drag-and-drop to add pages.
- Extract one or more pages by dragging from thumbnails to an explorer folder:
NOTE: If you do not have an icon on the left side of the screen like the one shown, go to View -> Navigation Panels -> Pages.
By now, many CPA firms are nearly 100% paperless, and those that aren’t should certainly consider it. Part of the paperless process involves a lot of scanning and management of PDF files. To get the most out of what Acrobat can do for a paperless firm, you need to become well-versed in Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
OCR can be both extremely useful and extremely frustrating. I get a lot of questions from my colleagues on OCR best practices. I recently came across a few excellent tutorials on the subject. They are not CPA-specific and are focused on Acrobat 9, but they present a ton of good information.
In my opinion, and in the opinion of most audit workpaper reviewers, a PDF document with a significant number of pages should have bookmarks. When another person opens the file, it would be nice for them to see the bookmarks so that they can quickly and easily navigate to the most important parts of the file. Common practice among some of us is to simply add text, “See Bookmarks” or something similar to the top of the first page. A better way to ensure the bookmarks will be seen is to have them show automatically.
Here’s how to do it:
- Go to File -> Properties…
- Click on the Initial View tab.
- In the Navigation Tab drop-down menu, select “Bookmarks Panel and Page.”
- Save the file.
Now, when someone opens the file, the bookmarks will appear on the left side of the screen every time.
BONUS: There are a number of other options you can set for the initial view. Play around and see what works best for different types of files.
There is a nice, quick way to transfer numbers to Excel from an Adobe PDF file. First, however, you need to make sure it is not a scanned PDF. Also, this works best for just a few pages maximum. For larger documents, IDEA is extremely useful.
How to do this:
- Zoom in a lot
- Look at the numbers. If the lines are really smooth and clear, you’re good to go. The first image below represents the way it should look for this process to work. The second image probably won’t work.
- Zoom back out
- Select the “Select” tool
- With the mouse pointer at the top left corner of the column, hold down the ALT key. A dotted-line box should appear on the mouse pointer.
- With the ALT still held down, drag down and across the column to select all of the numbers.
- Go to Edit -> Copy or hit CTRL + C to copy the numbers.
- In Excel, select the destination cell and click Paste or hit CTRL + V. The numbers should now appear in the column.
BONUS: Use the OCR feature in Acrobat to possibly do this with a scanned PDF.