7 PDF Power Moves

Apple has made the process of creating PDF files downright easy. Whereas you used to need a separate application to distill large, graphically complex documents into this handy format, you can now do it right from the OS X Print window just by clicking on a button. That means it’s a cinch to pass your company’s year-end report or a yard-sale flyer (with the layout intact) around for review.

But to really squeeze the most out of Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF), you still need the help of a separate application—namely, Adobe Acrobat 6.0 ($449 Professional or $299 Standard edition; www.adobe.com). From adding reviewer comments to creating effects such as zoom-ins on pictures, it gives you significant extra capabilities. Here are seven ways to use it to your advantage.

1. Cut PDFs Down to Size

PDFs that are long or loaded with high-resolution images—brochures, for example—can put a real strain on your Internet connection if you have anything slower than a T1 line. Unless you’re sending a file to be printed professionally, do everyone a favor and trim the fat. Go to File: Reduce File Size. Make the file compatible with the most recent version of Acrobat possible for the best byte-shaving savings.

2. Set the Initial View

When you send a multiple-page PDF file to clients or colleagues, only a single page appears by default in the Acrobat window. That makes it awfully easy for them to miss the rest. The Pages panel is the solution.

Go to File: Document Properties, and click on Initial View in the left-hand column. Under Document Options, choose Pages Panel and Page from the Show menu, Single Page from the Page Layout menu, and Fit Width or Fit Page (depending on your document) from the Magnification menu. Click on OK and save your file. The next time that document is opened, the first page will take up the majority of the Acrobat window, but the viewer will also see thumbnails of the other pages to the left.

3. Take Charge of Comments

If your documents are reviewed by a group of people, you’ll appreciate Acrobat’s ability to add comments to PDF files. But the more comments you have, the more unruly they can get. Here are some lesser-known ways to control them in version 6.0.

Show or hide comments based on check marks visible only to you. (This discretion is handy when check marks indicate disapproval of your boss’s contributions.) To make a for-your-eyes-only check mark, control-click on the comment, and then choose Mark With Checkmark from the resulting drop-down menu. For an opinion everyone can see, control-click on the comment, select Mark With Checkmark, control-click again, choose Set Status, and then select a status: Accepted, Rejected, Cancelled, or Completed. For those times when you want to be absolutely certain that a comment won’t circulate any further, control-click on it and choose Delete Comment from the drop-down menu.

4. Reclaim Your Shortcuts

Most people who use keyboard shortcuts do so to save time. That’s why it’s particularly irritating when shortcuts change and you have to spend time revising your methods. When you launch any version of Acrobat 6.0, single-key shortcuts, such as H for the Hand tool and V for the Select Text tool, don’t seem to work. But you can revive them. Go to Preferences (Command-K): General and select the Use Single-Key Accelerators To Access Tools option.

5. Banish Acrobat from Microsoft Office

If you have Acrobat 6.0 Professional and Microsoft Office v. X, you may have noticed a small Acrobat PDF toolbar in Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. The file responsible for this toolbar can become corrupt, causing intermittent problems, such as slower performance. To permanently delete the toolbar, search your Mac for all instances of PDFMaker.xla, PDFMaker.ppa, and PDFMaker.dot, and delete those files. You’ll never see the Acrobat PDF toolbar in Office apps again.

6. Zoom into the Picture

Say you’re working on a navigational manual in Acrobat. You’d like to show a close-up section of a map along with the entire thing, but a close-up wasn’t in the original layout. There are two ways you can help a viewer zoom in. One is simple; the more complex version is in the next tip.

Go to View: Navigation Tabs: Bookmarks. Use the Zoom In tool (it looks like a magnifying glass) to focus in on the section of the map that merits a close-up view. In the Bookmarks pane on the left, click on Options and select New Bookmark. Change the bookmark’s name from Untitled to something that indicates its purpose, such as Close-up of Mammoth Hot Springs. Now viewers of your PDF can click on this bookmark to zoom in.

7. Make Advanced Zoom Moves

Here’s how to turn part of a PDF page, such as a map, into a hot button (complete with a descriptive tool tip) that viewers can click on to zoom in. Go to View: Navigation Tabs: Destinations. In the resulting Destinations pane, go to Options: Scan Document. Then select Options: New Destination. Click on Untitled and give the destination an appropriate name, such as Old Faithful Close-up. Click on the Zoom In tool and fill the screen with the area you want to show close-up. Control-click on the name of your destination in the Destinations pane and choose Set Destination.

Now go to Tools: Advanced Editing: Forms: Show Forms Toolbar. Click on the Button icon in the Forms toolbar, and you’ll see a crosshair appear on the PDF. Draw a rectangle around the area you want to zoom in on. The Button Properties dialog box will appear. In the General tab, name the button Old Faithful Close-up, write a tool tip (such as “Click here to zoom in on Old Faithful map”), and set the Form field to Visible But Doesn’t Print.

Now click on the Appearance tab. Choose an appropriate border color and thickness, but choose No Color as the fill color. In the Text section, choose the font size, text color, and font that work best for your map. Click on the Options tab. Set the Layout menu to Label Only, the Behavior menu to Push, and the State menu to Up.

Click on the Actions tab. Select the Mouse Up trigger and the Go To A Page In This Document action. Click on the Add button and select the Use Named Destination option. Click on the Browse button and select Old Faithful Close-up (or whatever you’ve named your destination). Click on OK twice; then click on Close. The next time you open the document, the hot button will be active (see “Get a Closer Look”).

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