Acrobat X (v10) Rants and Tips

January 6, 2011 - 11:58am ||| 28 Comments | Add new

My latest title for the the online video tutorial company, Lynda.com, covers the newly-released Acrobat Pro “X” (meaning “10”). Be sure and pronounce it “ten” otherwise Adobe people are authorized to slap you.

Acrobat X Essential Training
http://www.lynda.com/tutorial/73561

I’m really rather happy with how it turned out; I was able to touch on all the areas I thought needed touching in an Acrobat Essentials title, including multimedia, forms, portfolios, redaction, shared reviews, OCR, digital signing, preflighting, and even a chapter on Reader X and Acrobat.com. 

But learning the program well enough to record all the lessons I wanted to on it was an unexpected ordeal. I even had to stay a few extra days at Lynda.com’s recording studio to finish it, a first for me. I didn’t think it’d be so bad, since I’ve been using Acrobat since version 2, and wrote my first magazine feature article about it (“I Didn’t Know Acrobat Could Do That”) way back when version 4 came out.  (One tip from that article showed how to convert a a pasted PICT image in a PageMaker file into an editable Illustrator graphic via Distiller. Also, how to rewind unspooled tape back into an 8-track.)

Look what they’ve done to my program, Ma

The main problem I kept running into was that Acrobat X’s interface is so different than previous versions, I kept having to stop to figure out what happened to a feature that I assumed had to still be there, but wasn’t … or perhaps it was, but I couldn’t find it. Was it a Mac vs. Windows issue? (A number of features are only available in the Windows version.) Did Adobe move the feature’s location in the interface? Or is it completely gone?

For example, if you’re looking for the File > History list, the one that lists the PDFs you’ve opened today, over the last 7 days, over the last 14 days and so on … that’s gone. Not in Acrobat X. So is File > History >  Organizer, Acrobat’s Bridge-like app devoted to the PDF format. Poof, gone. What’s galling is that they didn’t even try to replace that deleted feature with the logical replacement, a button or link to Adobe Bridge. I believe Bridge is made by the same company, at least that’s the rumor. If you ask the Acrobat team, they’ll tell you that their target market doesn’t use Bridge, doesn’t have Bridge, never heard of Bridge. Their target market uses Microsoft Office. Their target market in their dreams, I guess. (grumble. Why do I feel like an ex-wife?)

I actually do love the new interface in Acrobat X, the elegant panels on the right that silently expand and contract like a jQuery menu, and no more googly Disney-esque icons in the toolbar. The new interface doesn’t just look good, it makes my work easier. The new Tools panel, for example, gathers all (almost all) of the scattered functions found in previous versions of Acrobat into one single panel with subpanels.

Note that by default, not all the Tools subpanels are visible. In other words, don’t have a heart attack, the Print Production tools are still in Acrobat, even if you don’t’ see the subpanel at first. By default, Acrobat X hides some subpanels, similar to how the Creative Suite programs install with a workspace that shows just a subset of panels in the panel dock. To access any of the hidden Acrobat X subpanels, choose them from the itty-bitty menu icon directly below the Tools | Comment | Share header.

Now … can you save the arrangement of opened and closed subpanels as a workspace? Can you save the tools you’ve added to the QuickTools toolbar? Let me ask you this: Can you save a workspace in Word? Because if you can’t (you can’t), then why would you ever want to in Acrobat? Silly boy. It is to laugh. Who needs workspaces when you have … um. Uh. Erm. Oh, look, there’s a pretty birdie in the sky!

A few common Acrobat features ended up in weird places. Don’t bother looking for the Compare Documents command in any of the Tools subpanels (the Content subpanel would make sense), it’s actually in the View menu. And, if you want to run the PDF Optimizer (with the handy Audit Space Usage button), you’ll find that in the File > Save As fly-out menu (choose Optimized PDF). 

A couple bad decisions from the past are still intact, such as keeping the oft-overlooked Reflow command in the View > Zoom fly-out menu. Viewing a PDF in Reflow mode has nothing to do with changing the Zoom percentage, but what the heck. Think of Reflow as the foreign exchange student bunking in the den of the Zoom household.

Goodbye, old friends; hello, workarounds

Things I miss: I miss being able to quickly attach the current email to a PDF by choosing File > Attach to Email. In Acrobat X, you go to the Share panel to find the command, but my Share panel always takes a few seconds too long to appear — just enough to be irritating — because it’s checking that I’m logged in with my Acrobat.com account, in case I want to use their SendNow service. 

I miss choosing File > Save As and actually have the program saving the thing as! You know what happens when you choose File > Save As in Acrobat X? Nothing. You stare at the computer a second wondering “why didn’t that work?” until you remember that in version X, you have to highlight File > Save As, keep the mouse button down so the Save As fly-out menu appears, drag to the right to select the first item, “PDF,” and *then* let go of the mouse. Fun times! My doctor noted my blood pressure and recommended I use the Save As keyboard shortcut instead (Command-Shift-S/Ctrl-Shift-S).

I miss being able to choose File > Create PDF > From Blank Page to quickly create a one-page PDF document without needing to run any other program or export or convert any other file, period. It’s so handy to conjure up a cover sheet or test a copy/paste operation or do all sorts of miscellaneous Acrobat things that don’t call for anything more than a blank page with some typing on it.

Now, if you want to *insert* a blank page into an existing PDF, no problem. You’ll find the Insert a Blank Page command in the Tools panel. Look in the Pages subpanel and choose it from the Insert Pages > More Insert Options menu. Even better, if you choose this command with no PDFs open, guess what? You fool Mother Nature, and create a new, standalone, blank PDF document.

The problem on the Mac side is that you can’t get to the Tools panel unless you have a PDF open. Catch 22. So the uber secret for Mac users is to close all PDFs and then press the Insert a Blank Page keyboard shortcut: Command-Shift-Q. (Are you thinking, hmmm, isn’t that the Mac OS X command to quit all applications and log out? Yes it is, dear. If any program other than Acrobat X is the active app. Keeps you on your toes, what! Jolly good.)

Upgrading to Acrobat X

The upgrade fee to go from from Acrobat Pro v7, 8, or 9 to Acrobat Pro X is $199. That’s if you have a standalone copy of Acrobat Pro, though — that is, if you bought it separately from the Creative Suite as a single product.

If you’ve got Acrobat 7, 8, or 9 because it came with the Creative Suite …like, virtually anyone I’ve ever met … here’s how to upgrade it to Acrobat X: 

1. Wait for the next version of the Creative Suite.
2. When it comes out, pay for the Suite upgrade.
3. The end.

(If you can’t wait and really want Acrobat X now, you can always buy it as a standalone product for $449US. I see that Amazon has it for $409 and change.)

I’d say that’s rantworthy, wouldn’t you? Hey, at least it’s egalitarian; both Mac and Windows Creative Suite users are in the same boat. (Except … there is *still* no trial download of Acrobat Pro X for Mac users. Just Windows users. grrrr.)

The problem is that the Creative Suite and Acrobat are on two different development schedules. In the past, Adobe threw Creative Suite users a bone. To wit: When CS3 came out, it shipped with Acrobat 8, and when Acrobat 9 came out a few months later, Adobe offered a “CS3.3” interim upgrade, aka a “dot release,” to its CS customers almost immediately. For about $200 (as I recall) you got the new Acrobat and also a copy of Adobe Fireworks. As a CS3.3 owner, it was also slightly less of a cost to upgrade to CS4 when it was released (compared to CS3.0 users).

According to the Adobe Acrobat X Pro FAQ (http://j.mp/axprofaq), Acrobat X will be in the next dot release of the Creative Suite .. CS5.X … but they haven’t made any announcement when that release might occur. And when they make an announcement, it’s usually another few weeks before the product is actually shipping.

However you go about it, when you do get your hands on Acrobat Pro X, I’d love to hear what you think.

Comments (Subscribe to Comments RSS)

1 January 6, 2011 - 12:50pm by Michael Jahn (not verified):

This is nearly criminal;

“For example, if you’re looking for the File > History list, the one that lists the PDFs you’ve opened today, over the last 7 days, over the last 14 days and so on … that’s gone. Not in Acrobat X. So is File > History > Organizer, Acrobat’s Bridge-like app devoted to the PDF format. Poof, gone.”

I must use that feature 20 times a day. Especially when I am doing support calls, training - I can quickly re-open a PDF and show my customer something.

This is horrible news.

Michael Jahn
Slightly used PDF Evangelist

2 January 6, 2011 - 1:11pm by Anne Marie:

Well, there’s still a File > Open Recent flyout menu, that lists up to 10 recent PDFs. It starts with only 5, I think, but you can increase it to a whopping 10 in Preferences > Documents.

Rick Borstein, an friend of mine and a long-time Adobe staffer/manager (who pens the excellent Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog at http://blogs.adobe.com/acrolaw/) read the above article and replied via email about this particular point:

“You and Clint Funk [AM’s note: another long-time friend and Creative Suite guru who was snapped up by Adobe last month] are the only folks who have bemoaned the loss of the Organizer. It was sorta OK, but on both Mac and Windows you can get to your recent files really easily.

“One note: Acrobat 9 included our product improvement program and we had 100’s of thousands of customers take part. So, essentially, we know how people use the product. One of the least used features—the Organizer.”

Rick is referring to (I assume) the Recent Files list that both Windows and the Mac keep up. And on the Mac I think you can increase the limit to 20. Of course, it can’t filter to just the 20 most recent PDFs you’ve opened, it’s just the 20 most recent files, period.

3 January 6, 2011 - 1:15pm by Anne Marie:

BTW I’m not sure why the comments are appearing in reverse chrono order. Working on it.

4 January 21, 2011 - 6:21pm by Anne Marie:

You can ask the Acrobat X product managers your own questions via their blog:
http://blogs.adobe.com/acrobat/2011/01/comingsoonaskthexperttwitterviews…

They’re going to do a series of “Twitterviews” (interviews via Twitter) answering user’s questions. You can ask live on Twitter during the interviews, or beforehand by posting your question on their blog.

They say that they’re going to select random winners from the questions and those users get their own copy of Acrobat X, which is a $450 value.

OH I am so tempted to ask question after question! LOL. Please. You all ask for me.

5 January 25, 2011 - 11:13am by Anonymous (not verified):

Has there always been a print limit of 999??? (I skipped 9) I have to print thousands of PDFs which means I have to print them in batches of 999 copies. How annoying.

6 February 3, 2011 - 8:16am by Anne Marie:

Sorry, don’t know about the limit of pages or if it’s a new thing. Are you on a Mac or PC? Perhaps it’s an OS issue?

7 February 10, 2011 - 4:44pm by Charlie (not verified):

Also gone. In the print menu the drop down list of printers are in reverse alphabetical order (except the default is listed 1st). Really annnoying. I have a lot of available printers and have named the 3 I use the most to be at the top of list. They used to be in 8. I skipped 9.

8 February 13, 2011 - 8:24pm by Anonymous (not verified):

I’m annoyed by the inability to print to Adobe PDF printer. I used this feature as a way to reduce large file PDFs to a much more manageable/emailable size. The Adobe PDF Printer is no longer listed in the Printer drop down menu.

9 March 8, 2011 - 12:11pm by Jason H. (not verified):

Agreed… the removal of the organizer is nothing short of tragic. I admire the way they’ve been able to de-clutter other areas of the app but this was such a nice feature.

10 July 19, 2011 - 7:41am by Scott collins (not verified):

What’s criminal is the quality of the portfolio layouts that come with X. They are crap and have destroyed my paperless office

11 September 9, 2011 - 8:24am by Anonymous (not verified):

Thank you so much for helping me find the print production tools.

12 October 3, 2011 - 1:19pm by JJH (not verified):

Yikes. Please bring back the organizer! I open scores of PDFs every day and the PDFs I use ALL the time are not usually among my most recent 10. And they live all over the server, not in some central location. So now I think I have to create a brand new workaround using aliases and the clunky the “open with” dropdown from context menu flyouts just to open my most frequently used pdfs in the right application.

Adobe used to save me time and energy.

13 October 11, 2011 - 6:37pm by DarkPhire (not verified):

They got rid of the dedicated printer for the drop-down menu option. see the link… http://indesignsecrets.com/acrobats-adobe-pdf-printer-replaced-in-snow-l…

14 October 15, 2011 - 10:08pm by Rebecca (not verified):

Can someone tell me if I can upgrade from Acrobat 7 Pro to Acrobat 10 Standard? The Acrobat 0 Standard is what I neeed now, not 10 Pro

15 October 28, 2011 - 8:03am by ED (not verified):

I’m using acrobat x in windows and I can’t find the pdf optimizer in the save as fly-out menu, it just isn’t there. Any ideas of what settings I need to change etc.? Would really appreciate it.

16 November 7, 2011 - 7:00pm by Littah (not verified):

I just loaded Acrobat X Pro and now after I scan a document and extract some pages, it takes almost 4 minutes to save the page - 300 dpi, black/white, no OCR.

Anyone suggest what setting I have to use? This makes the program unusable for me and I’ll go back to 8.

also, how do you turn off the splash page that shows the old files used and what do do - I just want to create PDF from scanner. This I can live with, even though I have to go to custom scan each time.

17 November 15, 2011 - 11:57am by Mary (not verified):

I want to move the toolbars!

If you can move these around, I haven’t figured out how. Does anyone know anything about this?

I hate having the comments list vertical, I like it horizontal AND at the bottom. Also some of the page nav tools…

18 February 6, 2012 - 2:58pm by Becky (not verified):

I keep reading that the “PDF Optimizer” is located in the Save As flyout menu. But I don’t have it there. I have Reduced and Certified, but no optimized. Any thoughts?

19 February 21, 2012 - 1:54pm by Neil (not verified):

I’m annoyed that Pro X cannot remember my last page setup. Keeps defaulting to letter. Any suggestions?

20 March 4, 2012 - 4:05pm by Peter spider (not verified):

I have used Acrobat for at least 8 years. At each upgrade the various names for the functions are changed, eg paper Captore, via at least 3 other names to OCR.
I am a full registered used of Acrobat X on a Mac, and when I make a bookmrk, all is Ok. However when I make another the previous one reverts to untitled.
Also I have placed the delete a page icon on the menu bar, and then I find, either this one when required to delete does not function, but the one in the Tools Paneldoes, then next time I want to delete, the reverse happens.
As I do a lot of bookmarks, I am now using version 8.
I am in the Uk, and just try to make contact with a proper english speaker here. IMPOSSIBLE

21 April 3, 2012 - 2:10pm by mike (not verified):

I’m having the same issue as Niel, but the opposite. Somehow the default got set to 13x19, and I want it to go back to letter. Acrobat X doesn’t have the page setup feature under file that the older versions had.

22 April 6, 2012 - 2:52pm by Ralfy (not verified):

Open a document in Acrobat X. Go to the Print dialog. Click on Page Setup. Under ‘Format For’ choose your printer and under ‘Paper Size’ choose the desired size. In the top menu ‘Settings’ click on the drop down and choose ‘Save as Default’. Click ‘OK’. Acrobat should now remember these settings for all future documents.

23 July 27, 2012 - 2:50pm by Erik (not verified):

Seriously.. this is driving me crazy!! I have to print multiple documents and its wasting my time!

24 August 27, 2012 - 9:44pm by Chels (not verified):

Legend, thank you so much. I couldn’t find preflight and I was losing my mind you basically just saved my life.
Cheers, Chels :)

25 November 14, 2012 - 11:07am by Acrobat suX (not verified):

Organizer is gone… the number of tools you can dock is limited. The menus are counter-intuitive unless you work for Adobe. Functionality has been changed. I am down-grading to 9. Acrobat suX badly…

26 December 14, 2012 - 12:05pm by Anonymous (not verified):

I use Acrobat for print production and I see a new “background” - “add background” feature - but it appears the colors provided are all RGB. I’ve tried to use what appear to be drop downs and fly out menus without any luck. I would like to be able to select CMYK values using the “color” tool.
(I also find it strange if I choose “other color” the colors are displayed on top of the new menu - you have to move the newly opened window to the side to get to any of the options).

I’m using a Mac, has anyone else encountered this problem of not being able to use what appear to be drop down menus and fly outs in the color window?

27 February 25, 2013 - 9:43am by natSmart (not verified):

Is there no way to reverse the order of pages in a pdf now? i have found some javascript to enter in for v9 but the same menus are not available on X. Any work around for this please?

28 March 15, 2013 - 5:40am by Paolo T. (not verified):

“Acrobat 9 included our product improvement program and we had 100’s of thousands of customers take part. ”

So, development in Microsoft and Adobe is a matter of democracy, not functionality. And democracy applied to software development is what gave us Windows 8, the Ribbon and Acrobat X.

It seems that social science applied to software can only cause revolts among human users.

Acrobat X is a great loss of time for my work. I spend time and time to reach commands that I could simply invoke with a quick shortcut.

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